Gator Hook with Clyde

It was a beautiful day, but a hot one for a walk with
a 30 pound back pack on Clyde’s back. It felt good
to be going back to that wonderful, peaceful place in Gator Hook.
AND…I couldn’t wait to share it’s beauty with Clyde!

Heading down Gator Hook Trail…

In my images from the trip to Gator Hook with
Katy, Eric and Deedra I took a picture of the
caterpillars eating this plant…well, it’s been about
a week and those guys are getting BIG!

The rocky layer of Big Cypress is exposed on this section of
the trail. It is unusual to have a geologic experience in Big Cypress,
but here is what the area is made of…a long ago reef…

Lots of tracks…there is so little water that animals and
birds come from miles around to drink.

Clyde photographing.

If you look closely at the base of the cypress trees
you’ll notice that the bottom is darker than the top.
That is the water line. The normal water line in this
cypress forest is about at Clyde’s waist level. During
April & May it is the dry season in Florida. This year
we are exceptionally dry.
Clyde and I are usually at least waist deep when we
go out to photograph, so an experience in a cypress
dome without water is unique. The greatest thing about
a dry cypress dome that the bottom of the cypress trees are
exposed and that is where so much of the texture,
shape and form of the tree is exhibited.

While Clyde set up his camera and waited for the right light, I hiked
around exploring. In the above image, Clyde is a tiny figure in the

The cypress trees came in very large sizes. I was glad I was able to
find the giant one that Katy, Eric, Deedra and I found. It was neat
to be able to share it with Clyde. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a
composition anywhere around it. So, after studying it for a while, Clyde
decided not to photograph it.

We had a great day of adventure and photography.
The sun was getting low and it was time to head back to the car.

Heading back to the car…

Clyde checking his compass

As we wondered about through the woods and grasslands…not seeing

any thing we recognized…I realized we were lost. I hoped that
Clyde had brought his compass and he had…thank heavens.
That was about the only thing we did right!

Several days after this experience I picked up a book
that everyone should read, no matter whether they
go out into the wilderness for an afternoon picnic or on a
major adventure. It is called
Deep Survival by Laurence
The book is both an education and a collection of
great survival tales…and not surviving tales…VERY GOOD!

We knew the parking lot was west and if we headed in that
direction we’d eventually find it. We might have a long walk
without finding the trail, but we WOULD eventually come
across Loop Road. However after reading Deep Survival
and having this small experience of getting lost, I was thankful
we didn’t experience a collection of “Perfect Storms” because
we surely weren’t prepared for more than a few hours in
the wilderness. It is amazing how often we humans
don’t respect the power of nature, and this time we didn’t either.

Mistake #1
We knew it was a hot day, but I only took one bottle of water
into the swamp thinking it wouldn’t take more than 2-3 hours
to photograph and then return to the car.

Mistake #2
We didn’t even look at the compass when we left the trail and
headed out into the wilderness toward the cypress strand.

Mistake #3
When we left the cypress strand we didn’t go out from
the same place we entered.

Mistake #4
We didn’t check the compass when we left the cypress strand.

Mistake #5
We assumed we knew where we were and that we were walking west.
When we took out the compass we realized we weren’t walking west.
We were walking west- southwest. Had we continued in that direction
without looking at the compass it would have been a very LONG walk
before we reached Loop Road and then we would have had
to hike up the road to get to the car.

Mistake #6
Well…there were more…but read the book and think about
your own experiences out in the woods. Mistakes abound!
Doing some simple things can make the difference
between life and death…nature is to be respected.

Anyway…we continued onward…

Unfortunately, there were no clouds. The temperature was
around 91 degrees.The ground was dry and there wasn’t
water anywhere.

We didn’t have much water left. I didn’t bring very much…
which is always a mistake when you are heading out into the
wilderness…sigh…anyway, I refused to drink any more
until I knew if we would need it to survive.

Clyde checks the compass again…

We keep walking west…

We found the trail!

Heading home down the RIGHT path…

Ahhhh…at last the car and WATER to drink!

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