February 2013
Canoe Trip to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

The route was from Suwanee Canal to Chase Prarie to Canal Run and back to Suwannee Canal

Click the Map and the pictures for a larger view.

Flew from Reagan to Jacksonville with Adam.  Met up with Bob and Mike. 

After an overnight at the Jaxport Inn we drove to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.  We picked up permits at the park office and got the canoes from the outfitter.

The outfitter, Okefenokee Adventures, runs a tour boat into the Okenfenokee.  If you are in the Jacksonville area the tour is worth taking.

The trip begins with a nine mile paddle along the Suwanee Canal.

The canal is very nice for canoe paddling as it is sheltered from the wind so you make 3 to 4 miles and hour.

You don't go to far before you begin to see alligators. 

My experience has been that the Okefenokee is better for seeing alligators than the Everglades.

With alligator sightings comes alligator picture taking.  Mike and Bob glide up to a gator to get a good picture.

Click here for a video that Bob took of the aligator.

We stopped at the Coffee Bay day use shelter for lunch.

After lunch more alligators.  Adam manuvers the canoe so Dad can get a better picture of the gator.  Anything for Dad.

Fortunately Adam still has his fingers and other apenditures. 

The alligator guide that the park service gives you says you don't have to worry until the alligator starts hissing.  After that it says, "You have been warned."

Well it is a good picture of the alligator after all.
More Alligators
We stop for a rest before getting to our camp for the night.

We reached the shelter in Chase Prarie around 3:30 pm.

The terrain varies between cypress forest and large open grassland areas called praries.

The camping platform was comfortable with roof, table, and benches.

A group picture is always nice to take.

Also provided is your personal porta john.

The Round Top shelter is in a very beautiful and remote spot. 

Click here for a panoramic view of the prarie.

Sunset over Chase Prarie was also beautiful and serene.

On the other hand, even after years of wilderness canoeing and camping I still feel a pang of anxiety when the sun sets and you realize that you are along in the wilderness in the dark.

After a cold night, ice on the deck, the day was bright and sunny.
We continued the paddle through Chase Prarie.

Saw some sandhill cranes in the distance.

Our plan was to work our way up to Floyds Island and cabin for lunch before heading to the Canal Run shelter.

The channel up to Floyds Island is narrow and through a cypress forest.

We had been warned by the park that we wouldn't be able to reach Floyds Island as the channel had not been cleared so it was no surprise when that turned out to be the case.

On our previous trip Mike and I spent a few hours trying to get through such deadfall trying to get to our camping shelter.  We eventually abandoned the effort.  You can read about that on that trip's web page.

So back the way we came

We saw some large alligators in Chase Prarie as compared to smaller ones in Suwanee Canal. 
Here we are leaving the prarie and headingback into the cypress forest.
Since we couldn't get to Floyds Island we got to the Canla Run Camp early in the afternoon.
Near sunset we noticed a tree with what looked like a few hundred Ibises roosting for the night.  I tried to capture this on a video but between using the 20 times zoom and the poor light it's not a good video.  But, if you watch it you can get a sense of the number of birds in the tree.

The night was cold again, into the 30s but no ice.  The morning was sunny and pleasant.

We had a 10 mile paddle down the Suwanee Canal to get back to the entrance ot the park.

 

 

It was a beautiful morning for paddling back down the canal.

This alligaotr was the onlyone we saw swimming that didn't dive when the canoe came by.

Got this picture of a sandhill crane near the entrance. 

The crane is a big bird.

Bob got a nice picture of a wood stork rosting in a tree.

 

 

Back at the outfitter to drop off the canoes and head to the airport for the flight home.

The End