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Getting Our Feet Wet

March 3, 2011

Slough Slog, Everglades National Park

We were told that fewer than one-half of one percent of people who visit the Everglades sign up for a “slough slog.” So for every 100 people who show up at the park, only a single person’s bottom half makes the trek. Presumably the smarter top half stays back at camp drinking beers. I don’t know how that works exactly, but the point is, not many people do this, which is part of the attraction.

In our travels we’ve taken countless hikes over dry land. We’ve canoed through alligator infested cypress swamps and we even canoed through the “river of grass” known as the Everglades. One thing we haven’t done, though, is waded through an alligator infested swamp in search of places you can’t get to by boat. That is until now.

Slough Slog, Everglades National ParkOur destination was the center of a cypress dome. Cypress trees are amazingly flood resistant and can thrive in standing water. It is incredible to see a forest of these giants growing out of mirror clear lakes. But the limestone that forms the bedrock of the Everglades limits the tree’s rooting systems, and thus their growth. In some areas, though, depressions in the limestone allow for deeper sediment and taller trees. As trees get further away from the central depression and into shallower water, their growth is stunted, creating a dome like appearance when viewed from a distance. Inside, the domes retain moisture and block out sunshine, creating a hospitable environment for orchids, bromeliads, and ferns.

We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife on our slog. Apparently Mother Nature is still pissed, or maybe we just used up too much of our good luck in seeing a crocodile-riding cormorant. On the other hand, we didn’t become alligator or cougar food either, so in that respect, our luck was absolutely stellar. What we did get to see was a side of nature few other people do and experience a place where no trail leads. Already the Everglade’s slow but relentless current has washed away all traces of our passage. The next person through those parts will see it as if for the first time by human eyes, just like we did. And for that, we are profoundly lucky.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2011 10:56 pm

    If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now: I’m really enjoying your journeys through parts of the U.S. most of us don’t get to visit. Thank you for your wonderful, and funny!, posts about your Wanderings. I love this blog!

    • March 4, 2011 7:57 am

      Thanks for the kind words. It’s good to know you’re enjoying it.

  2. March 24, 2011 5:09 pm

    Looks beautiful. I have done one of these backcountry hikes before and it is really neat slogging through the swamp. I really want to hike the Florida Trail through the Big Cypress. That would be incredible.

    • March 24, 2011 6:03 pm

      We blew right past Big Cypress on our way to Naples (big mistake, we should have taken a day or two more in the Everglades). But even when you have all the time there is, there still isn’t enough time to do everything you want to do.

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