Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weekend Warriors

Garl Harrold (back center) with group in one of his secret gator holes.

After a full week of work, Saturdays usually come with a dilemma. On one hand, I have my big, beautiful, and neglected bed, while on the other an entire national park is going through some dramatic seasonal changes. Either way, it’s a win-win situation and I can easily justify one over the other, usually at the influence of weather. This weekend, I chose the Everglades.

My roommate Adam (right) with coworker Erin (center) and Wolfgang (left) 
dare the other to walk into the gator hole.

Normally I go out alone, but since Garl (of Garl’s Coastal Kayaking) had a group of paying customers to where I could hitch a ride, I decided to tag along.

You can see here how cypress domes get their names.

We went out to a few cypress domes off the beaten path and looked for snakes and owls. After only ten minutes of looking, we came upon a slight depression, which looked like the perfect hideout for water snakes. Fortunately we had three herpetologists in the group and they helped us find 6 cottonmouths in one small pile of logs.

Hiking into one of these domes can be pretty muddy.

Of course, on a branch just above these snakes sat a barred owl. 

Quill-leaf epiphyte (Tillandsia fasciculata) takes over the trunks of pond cypress in this dome.

With the return of the rains, all of the parched epiphytes are starting to perk up and fill out. Walking through the trees amongst the varieties of air plants and orchids carries the same silent awe as snorkeling a coral reef. It’s just so beautiful how every inch of livable space is occupied by something that contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem.

For sunset, we paddled out into the Bay and got to see my favorite seasonal change of all: clouds.

Down here, the afternoon storms and towering, anvil-shaped cumulous clouds are famous for appearing out of nowhere. Summer isn’t here quite yet, but when it is, I’ll be ready!

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