Monday, December 16th, 2019
After eating breakfast at Swamp Water Cafe, we waited for the front desk to open so we could return our lamp and the lock to our chickee. As we waited, we wandered around Billie Swamp Safari. They have a lot of animals there, from birds of prey, to gators, to peccaries and capybaras, to wolves (which we heard howling overnight).
Once we got back to our hike, the same police officer we chatted with the day prior drove by. He asked us where we slept, then suggested we check out the otters playing up ahead. I loved that he was so into wildlife. I think he mentioned it every time we talked to him. He gave us the ‘hang loose’ hand gesture before driving off.
We didn’t see the otters before we left the road to return to the trail. It was crazy hot out! Once we left the Reservation, we were strolling on a bike path. Dehydration was kicking in. We made the final stretch passed some gators and over to the rest stop as an EMS helicopter flew overhead.
The rest stop was our sanctuary for a while. We ate and hydrated in the shade. Then we hydrated some more as we watched the people come and go. One person left a giant water jug filled with pee in the parking lot. Gross. We drank two Gatorades as we watched the European middle-aged version of ‘Jersey Shore’ walk by. It seemed like we’d never get hydrated enough, but we had to wait around. Water sources were limited once we got into Big Cypress National Preserve. A funny thing to say about a swamp, but we had to conserve what we could carry.
We left the rest stop and signed in at the kiosk for Big Cypress. Here we go! It wasn’t long until our feet got wet. It started out with flooded swamp buggy tracks and savannas. Then we found ourselves walking through a cypress swamp wonderland the rest of the way, with clear water and trees covered in bromeliads.
Walking is probably not the best word for it. Once second we were wading through water, the more favorable option believe it or not. The next, we were slipping and sliding through thick mud and sediment. We were slow moving. My toes felt like they were in a vice from all the sediment built up in my shoes. It was incredibly difficult to get around.
We wouldn’t be making it to our planned destination. Since predators hunt at dusk, we cut our hike short, stopping at Thank God Island for the night. A very suitable name for a camp site indeed.
17.9 miles (28.8 km)
Jump Ahead to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 28
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