Swamp Walk – Muck About – 2008

Every Labor Day Weekend in September we celebrate the beauty of the swamp by inviting folks to come out to Big Cypress Gallery and spend their holiday enjoying nature in our back yard. Our knowledgeable swamp walk guides take groups of 15-20 people into the swamp, educating them about the environment of south Florida. We have several different paths, as well as different kinds of walks… something for everyone…
This year we had a wonderful weekend, filled with great people! The expressions of thanks and joy at being able to experience the beauty of the swamp were repeated over and over by the folks who came to the event. It’s a good feeling to know that by sharing the environment we are bringing awareness to others.
A BIG THANKS goes to all of our volunteers who helped make the event so successful and to our employees who work so hard before the event to get it organized. But, the biggest THANKS goes to our daughter Jackie who organizes the event! Without her energy and excitement about sharing the environment with others, I’m not sure Clyde and I would have the ‘umpf‘, to get through the weekend!

We took around 800 folks into the swamp this year, with around 1500 showing up to the event…a very busy weekend…but lots of fun! The swamp walks cost $20 a person. After expenses (police to keep traffic safe, feeding the volunteers, music, etc), the remainder goes to benefit Friends of Big Cypress, Friends of Fakahatchee, and Florida Trail.

Every year we hold our breath hoping a hurricane won’t interrupt the weekend. Since we started these walks in 1994, we’ve only had one hurricane cancel the weekend. This year we held our breath and successfully squeezed the event between two hurricanes by-passing Florida…Hanna and Ike. The clouds from Hurricane Hanna kept everyone cool and comfortable. We did have a little rain, but mostly it was perfect weather for a swamp walk.

Below you will find photographs Jackie and I took during the Muck-About…enjoy…

Getting the grounds ready for the weekend

Sandra, Miladie and Rick working to get the gallery ready

Rich and Ron organizing the swamp walks

Mike Owen from Fakahatchee Strand State Park
introducing the swamp walk to the muckers

Heading into the swamp

Jeff Ripple leading a group

Charles, from Dragonfly Expeditions, explaining the ecosystem

Charles, Dragonfly Expeditions talking about
the history of the Indians in the area

Mike Owen talking about the ecosystem

Discussing the benefits of periphyton, an ugly glob of gook, to a fellow swamp walker. Perifphyton not only cleans the water, it also retains water like a sponge so that during the dry season different small species can survive in it.

No telling the wonders found in the swamp…perhaps they saw the “Skunk Ape”?
Or maybe a flying saucer?…..

Mike Owen of Fakahatchee State Park making his way through

the swamp with a future swamp guide!

Charles of Dragonfly Expeditions rescuing five soles in the swamp…

Yep…shoes not only fall apart out there in the swamp, but many people don’t want to take their shoes home with them, so they leave them with us. We are always amazed at the quality of shoes that folks leave behind, so at the end of the swamp walk we go through the shoes that are left behind and clean the good ones, then donate them to Shoes for Souls.

Rosie cleaning shoes

Of course there are those folks who just LOVE mud!

In the meantime, while all the swamp walks are going on, Clyde was in the gallery signing books and meeting so many wonderful people.

Clydes discussions with folks on photography and the environment made for fun conversations!

Cindy Hackney and Valerie Wisecracker joined us again with their great folk singing.

Political cartoonist, Rob Smith, joined us having fun drawing images of the folks who came to the event. He too donated his earnings to Friends of Big Cypress, Friends of Fakahatchee and Florida Trail.

…and of course the wonderful food provided by Camille Street Grill from Everglades City…

We all had a great time and enjoyed everyone who came to the swamp walk. Thank you all for joining us in the celebration of this beautiful place we call home.

A special event was planned for the volunteers Saturday night. Lisa Andrews, Educational Ranger from Big Cypress National Preserve, provided us with some wonderful entertainment with the vist of 110 year old Ed. (Lisa as Ed)
Rick Cruz made the photographic record of Old Ed joining us with his discussion of

“The Way It Was…”

Old Ed making his way down the road to the campfire

Old Ed stops in his tracks when he sees beautiful women…

and of course, he’s very partial to young folk.

however, like all men, a beautiful woman is hard to pass by…here Old Ed shares a stuffed alligator with Julie.

Old Ed finally making his was to the group

Old Ed begins by remembering how, back in the old days, there were so many birds in south Florida that their great numbers would block out the sun as they flew overhead.

He spoke about how millions of birds were killed in order to make feather hats. Here he puts a feather hat on Mike Owen’s head.

Mike Owen is just so THRILLED at having the hat on his head…!

Niki sharing the feather hat with the kids

Then Old Ed told the story of how the alligators were almost became a vanished species because their beautiful hides were used for so many things. As an example he passed around an alligator purse.

Old Ed showing us an alligator tooth

Old Ed sharing with us the skull of a manatee and telling us the story of their lives, as well as cautioning us boaters to go slowly because more manatees are killed or damaged by boats than anything else.

Old Ed with Clyde

It was an educational, funny and inspiring evening thanks to the extraordinary talent of Lisa Andrews!

2 thoughts on “Swamp Walk – Muck About – 2008

  1. HEY NIKI! So glad to see you had another successful Swamp Walk. As always, your photos capture everything perfectly. I wish I could step again into those cool waters of the swamp…what a privilege! I hope all who do know so. Thanks for keeping the blog. Helps me feel and stay connected to you guys.
    Much love,
    Natalie + Josh + Ezra

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