The Everglades and Big Cypress have some really neat (and free!) ranger-led programs that they offer during their peak season (winter). One of them is a swamp walk. This past Monday, Vaughn and 5 of the boys (Caleb isn’t quite tall enough yet) went on a swamp walk with 2 rangers and 5 other hikers.The swamp walks are offered a few days each week, and you can sign up up to a week in advance. The walks last for about 2 hours, you are required to wear lace up shoes and long pants, and you are pretty immersed in your study subject If it’s the wet season, then you could be immersed above your waist. My guys only went above the knee since it’s pretty dry down here right now!
The walk was lead by Ranger Andrew, and another ranger attended also taking notes. Both of these guys are seasonal employees, and were great! The second one was learning how to do it so he could lead them also. They saw some gorgeous orchids, and lots of other new-to-us plants. The ranger did a great job teaching, and the guys learned all sorts of things about the cypress woods down here, and the plants that grow in them.During the walk, the ranger would have the walkers take turns leading the pack; it was kind of nice to be in front because then you got the clear water – after it had been walked through, the water is muddied and harder to see into. Also, after walking out there, the forest is much less intimidating – you can see what is around, and into the water so it’s not like anything is going to sneak up on you if you are aware. The animals down here want to run into you much less than you want to run into them! The ‘swamp walk’ destination was a ‘gator hole… That they waded out into and each went their separate ways and explored. The boys had a great time! They got to see parts of the park off of the beaten path, and to get some small group learning in where they could ask questions to the rangers. They were on the lookout for rogue pythons, but they couldn’t find any. They only saw one gator, but they did get to see 3 water moccasins! They were bummed when it was over, and are now planning their own 8 mile hike in the park. When they got back, they told us all about air plants and cypress knees and cow horn orchids. The ranger warned the hikers that they would be climbing a grade while they hiked. They gained 2 inches over their mile into the cypress woods! LOL! ~did you know that Britton Hill is the highest point in FL, maxing out at just 345 feet above sea level?!?! and that is clear up by Orlando. Down here, it’s just plain flat. The guys had a fabulous swamp walk, and the rangers that took them were great! We sure are loving Big Cypress!!!
Another day, Vaughn did the Great And Loving Dad thing and took the bigs to a Ren Fest 2.5 hours away. cuz he’s fabulous like that. It was a nice down day for me (I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of days), and the faire-goers had a good time. If you’d like to read about it, Beth wrote about it on her new blog at: