All good things are wild and free. ―Henry David Thoreau
At the beginning of what would be a 10-12 mile hike through the SWA system, along the Owahee Trail (near Grassy Waters Preserve) in northern Palm Beach County, this curious and bold fellow — majestic and magnificent, always — offered a steady and seemingly condescending gaze.
May your weekends be as wild and free as this beautiful creature!!
Sorry Mr. Red-shouldered Hawk — we simply cannot compete with that poise
Everglades Poster Celebrating Marjory Stoneman Douglas
The first-ever EVERGLADES DAY is this Sunday, April 7…. Fantastic! Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard to make this a legislative priority, highlighting and escalating issues surrounding the Everglades, as well as renewing the area’s restoration efforts. What a perfect time to visit and explore the ‘glades — and love this beautifully vital, rare, but endangered and always-threatened ecosystem. Check out the link below for events from Miami to Naples to West Palm Beach!
From the Everglades Foundation:
The first official Everglades Day will be celebrated on April 7, 2013. In addition to recognizing what an important resource this ecosystem is, not only to the state of Florida, but to America, the day will also honor Everglades activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, as it is designated to be held on her birthday.
The Florida Legislature voted in favor of an Everglades Day on March 7, 2012. From a National Parks Conservation Association press release: “The state’s support for an official Everglades Day will ensure that the Everglades ecosystem remains a top priority for elected officials and all Floridians while honoring Douglas’s legacy for protecting the River of Grass. . . Each time we turn dirt on an Everglades restoration project, we are protecting our drinking water supply, creating jobs and fulfilling a promise to protect our national parks, wildlife, and family memories….”
Some of the sights from one of the event locations, Grassy Waters:
Love and respect this place. Please.
Everglades Vista Along the Hog Hammock Trail
Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone. —Miller Williams
One special hike along the Rookery Trail (within the SWA Trail network of Grassy Waters Preserve) brought an unbelievable number of alligator sightings — I lost track at 30 in the space of 2-3 hours. By far the most of any hike! One of the guys we stumbled upon was this handsome fella.
He’s not hissing, or being hostile — far from it, he was as mellow as could be. As with other cold-blooded reptiles, he was basking in the sun, regulating his body temperature. Occasionally alligators will keep their mouths open, akin to a dog panting…. It’s a cooling mechanism.
Cooling down on a warm day
Out of 20-50 eggs that are laid by the mother alligator, only a few will survive to adulthood — usually less than five. Many predators prey upon the juvenile alligators, include snapping turtles, snakes, raccoons, bobcats, raptors, wading birds, and even larger alligators. This guy (or girl?) is a survivor, having encountered a mishap resulting in a missing foot as a hatchling or young adult — the injury appears long, and well-healed. And he/she was doing just fine, enjoying the beautiful land and wetlands of this magnificent preserved Everglades watershed.
Relaxing in my wonderful Everglades
Walking the Malachite Trail in the SWA portion of the most wonderfully pristine Everglades watershed of the Grassy Waters Preserve, an old tree displayed new life with a whimsical fungi arrangement — a fairy staircase!
We recently hiked the Grassy Waters Preserve — specifically the SWA Trails within the Preserve, the Rookery Loop, and the outer Owahee Trail. Today, the Preserve serves as the freshwater supply for the city and its associated municipalities — but historically the area was the headwaters of the Loxahatchee River (Seminole for River of Turtles). It was also a key component of the Everglades watershed, which began north of Orlando and flowed through rivers that emptied into the vast Lake Okeechobee, where the lake’s waters flooded into the Everglades Basin and slowly flowed into the Florida Bay.
So while we expected to see alligators (as always!) during the hike in the Rookery Loop section of the Preserve, such numbers as those we encountered were not expected. I lost count at 40…in 3 hours! And in this area, as warned by the signage, the gators are in very close proximity to the human visitors. But as is often the case, they were very shy, perhaps not quite as accustomed to humans. And I was thrilled to spy such numbers of these amazing creatures in this beautiful and thankfully preserved ecosystem — they always make wonderful models. I don’t even know where to begin with my alligator collection from this outing, but this duo made me smile.
Seeing Double: Alligator Pair in the Everglades