Well I made it back. No harm no foul. I could easily sum up the kayaking part of the trip by saying the Alligators were in rare form. My fingers finally stopped trembling a day or so after I had kayaked. Really I had no idea how rambunctious they could be at the start of the breeding season.
Arriving at the place early on a weekday means there were not many other people waiting to go out in a Kayak. I mean I am sure that is why I was the lone kayaker – what other reason could there be?
The lady working the counter handed me a map and told me how by the time I arrived back there would be gators all over the place … right where I was to take the kayak out at. Oh joy. Do you know how hard it is to get out of a kayak without getting in the water? Impossible actually. After getting the kayak and grabbing a fantastic mouth watering sandwich along with a couple of bottles of water from the folks at Okefenokee Adventures, I was off into the tea colored water on a bit of a cool cloudy morning. What passed for clouds was actually a smoke filled sky caused by a serious wildfire which was heading our way. No worries there.
Nothing out of the ordinary took place during those first few relaxed paddle strokes. I managed to get some birds within camera range which is something I haven’t managed before, so that was a bonus. And given the drought conditions they have been experiencing the nice lady at the place gave me some ideas about where I could paddle and where it would likely be to shallow to get very far. But heck as she said (a woman who says things like oust yonder mind you) if it was to shallow I could get out and push the kayak or turn around. Because hey it’s not like the place was teeming with 8 foot long fat ass grumbly gators or anything… okay so it turns out it was.
This was my third trip down there and I have never experienced the type of behaviors these gators would end up showing me. It was rather strange truth be told. It started out that they were quietly stretched out in the water but the farther I went paddling in an area off limits to motor boats, and where for a few hours (the entire time I was in this area) I would see no one else, the gators appeared to become a little more interested in me. Of course having my semi new camera and a very new lens I wanted to take as many pictures as I could. Especially when I began finding all these gators out and about in twos and threes sunning themselves. Here are things to keep in mind, an alligator is exhibiting aggression when it lifts its head or when its mouth is wide open. Oh and by the way I don’t have a picture of the mammoth gator who turned its head as I paddled by, with its extra large mouth open wide showing me very sharp pointy teeth. By the time I saw that gator I had already been chased by no less than 4 maybe five gators all at least 7 feet long with big, and I do mean really big jaws. Two gators in particular both turned and barreled their way to the water just as I was almost passing them. One of them somehow became a bit tangled up in the trees and brush as it tried to get to the water. Dam if it did not sound like a truck crashing through the brush. Thinking back, all I heard was the crashing and breaking of branches as I was paddling so fast at that point the kayak barely made contact with the water.
Other than the kayaking I also took a bit of a hike around the area. While out walking alone, I heard what sounded like something large breaking branches and crushing leaf litter out in the densely wooded swampy area. I tried to wait and see if it would peek through to give me a glimpse of it – black bears are very common down there as well as gators, but it never did. I did see a snake, I think it was a yellow bellied water snake. It was to fast for me to get a picture of it.
Also on my vacation I went to the beach for some relaxation time. I certainly needed it after all that kayaking. The beach was located at another of my favorite Georgia places, Jekyll Island. There were no people at all just me sitting between all these birds and listening to the waves.
I can’t wait to go back again.