National Hiking Societies National Trails Day at Okefenokee National Refuge

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National Hiking Societies National Trails Day at Okefenokee National Refuge

The Okefenokee National Refuge is almost more a place of legend in the southeast instead of a physical space. We all grew up hearing about the Okefenokee swamp as the mythical place of alligators, fires, and the Skunk Ape. Not all of these things may be real but the Okefenokee is a real living breathing ecosystem that has more magic than Disney World. This place of wonder is where I spent my National Trails Day, along with family, loved ones, and hounds.

We wanted to do something relatively easy for the occasion. Nick and I have ventured into the swamp before, but it would be the first time for my mom and for the dogs. The first time I went was back in January 2017 on the foot trails and the second time in August of the same year exploring the waterways. Throughout the visits it was interesting to note the changes in vegetation throughout the seasons. Unfortunately, this visit I wasn’t the most motivated individual to drive the hour and a half drive to the refuge which meant we arrived during the midday heat. The heat and high water levels also meant that seeing an alligator, was highly unlikely. We did assure my mom that even though we didn’t see one, it is highly likely one saw us.

The heat also affected the dogs. Dogs are allowed in the refuge but only on certain trials. They enjoyed a great time exploring the outside area of the homestead and the adjacent hiking trail. Every once in a while, the breeze would cool us down, but overall the heat and humidity started taking a toll on us and the dogs. Hiking with dogs, also means making sure dogs are safe and checking they are not overheating and checking them for ticks. They gulped up water with every break we took, and after less than a mile it wasn’t safe for the dogs to stay in the heat.