Big Cypress National Preserve
What's better than a weekend in Big Cypress National Preserve? That's right, TWO weekends in Big Cypress National Preserve! This time I got to go out with two photographer friends Neil Losin, Paul Marcellini, and Garl Harrold from Garl's Coastal Kayaking.
I just can't get enough of this place and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to get out and explore this massive, no-admission charged, and utterly remarkable area. If you can't tell, I'm stoked. Romping around in South Florida's wilderness is just as effective at recharging my batteries as sleeping in on a rainy Sunday. Actually, that was a terrible analogy. Let me explain it a little better.
Exposed pond apple roots along Robert's Lake Strand, Big Cypress
Imagine getting off the Florida Trail and delving into unmarked wilderness. Beneath the thick canopy of bald cypress trees and coco plum, lemon bacopa crunches under your feet punching a gentle zest into the gut of the stagnant humidity. Gator trails weave through the mud between stunted pond apples which extend their branches embracing orchids, epiphytes, and strangler figs. At the base of these gothic buttresses, cottonmouths wait to strike anything that crosses its path. After a half mile the gator trail highways converge into one and lead to an opening in the canopy. Following the muddy slough, you come to one of the last remaining water holes. Herons and egrets flush as you approach, trumpeting into the blue sky. In the middle of the shallow pond more than one hundred alligators gather. You have come during their feeding time. Unannounced, they propel out of the water crashing on their side with jaws agape, trashing wildly in the murky mire and chomping victoriously on a catfish. Looking up across the water, a black bear lumbers through the vegetation giving you a short and rare glimpse before disappearing into the cover of the swamp. You hear no roads. You see no sign of civilization. You feel no schedule weighing on your shoulders. The thick black mud squishes between your toes and you're childishly proud. This is the swamp. This is South Florida.
A water moccasin, or "cottonmouth" bares its fangs to warn predators
I want all of you to see this first hand, and it's not just this one strand in Big Cypress. I want you to come along on all my adventures to see the discoveries that exploration brings. My sofa isn't big enough for all of you, so instead, I've opted to create a video series to let you in on the action. I'm new at this, so I'll learn as I go, but if you can disregard my quirky remarks and childish giggle, I hope you'll enjoy Venture Out. Here's the first episode: