'Gators and Sandies on Valentine's Day
We entered Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Wednesday, February 13th, around 11:00 am via Georgia's Stephen C Foster State Park. Weather was overcast with temps in the low 50s. From the park's canal access we paddled east through Billy's Lake and stopped for lunch on Billy's Island. Human use of the island dates back about 4000 years per artifacts found there. More recent history includes Fort Walker (1838), the Lee family (1853-917) and the Hebard Cypress Company logging camp (1917-1926). At its peak, the logging camp had a population of about 800 people, and some of the logging operation equipment is slowly melting into the ground there.
After lunch and a hike around the loop trail, we paddled east to the Canal Run platform and shelter. We had hot drinks, set the tent up on the platform, explored short trails from the platform along the canal bank, and made ourselves at home for the night. As the sun began to set, barred owls welcomed us to the swamp. I started dinner prep a bit late, which meant clean-up after dark, but that wasn't a problem—the shelter had a light switch! (No lights, power, or wires, but a switch—someone's idea of backcountry humor!)