I have so many paddles on my kayak bucket list. I knocked one off the list over spring break. Much to my husbands dismay, I planned a trip to the Okefenokee Swamp solely to get in the kayak and hopefully see some alligators. I am really a lucky girl that my boys will play along with my adventures, even when they are completely uncomfortable. I am asked all the time about how I find out about these places and how I have the energy to do it all. The stereotype is as you get older, you are supposed to slow down. That is complete BS! It is when people slow down they die. Move it or lose it. Trust me I have my days where I do not do anything at all. I actually look forward to Netflix binge days where we stay in the bedroom (my new favorite room) and eat all meals and have movie/TV marathons. I need to recharge hard from playing hard.
The Okefenokee is not a secret place, in fact, it is pretty famous. It is just not in the easiest spot to get to. I have spent many hours scouring Google maps and researching waterways. Then I google the waterways, see what I can find. American Whitewater is a great resource. Checking out area outfitters for whatever river/lake you are looking at is also another good way to find information, reviews and pictures of what you might want to paddle down next.
We talked about visiting our friends in Brunswick, GA and finally made a plan. They live close to a lot of great places in south Georgia we never get to explore so we took an extra day to paddle around the swamp before we met up with them. We didn't bring our kayaks with us, we rented them at the State Park. Usually rental boats are crap, but these were Old Town and they were really nice and comfortable. The boys had a tandem and I was in a single. They were super affordable and the guy who retrieved the kayaks for us even pushed us into the water off the shore so we never had to even get wet.
We packed our dry bag and snacks and set off. I was more concerned with bugs then sunscreen, even though I packed both. We dowsed ourselves in deet because I was super worried about the bugs. Everywhere I read said the bugs were terrible on the water. We must have picked the most perfect time of year. There were no bugs! Not a single bite all day. The sun was shining, it was warm. For some reason I thought it was going to be shady and we all wore our zip-off hiking pants and dri-fit shirts and pull-overs. By the end of the day we had our pants rolled up and feet dangling over the sides. I never did put on sunscreen and ended up with the worst weird sunburn on my shins and ankles and a pretty prominent farmer tan.
There are miles upon miles of trails. 120 miles actually. You can see a map here. We managed about 6 miles round trip...which means we set out through the canal to the Cedar Hammock and paddled in there, came back out and paddle up to the next day use trail, paddled around and went back. We spent about 3.5 hours on the water in total.
Most of the day the water was like glass. It was easily the best place I have ever been in a kayak. The wind picked up on our way back in, and it was going against us, so that was a little tiring but nothing too bad. The best part was seeing all the wildlife. So many alligators! We lost count. There were huge ones, baby ones, nests and they were in and out of the water. You definitely do not want to swim here. We did not see any snakes but they are prominent too. The coolest thing I saw was the barn owl. We were told that is not a normal thing to see.
Just writing this post has me itching to get back in my kayak.
Yay for spring!