Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Smith State Park & Three Nights in Okefenokee
by TrailZen

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 02/26/2024
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Day 2 of 5
Tuesday, February 27, 2024, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR)

We think this was our seventh visit to ONWR, with three of the visits being day-paddles in the swamp, and four visits with overnights. We drove from Statesboro to the ONWR welcome center near Folkston, GA, signed in with the rangers, then checked out exhibits and videos about the area’s history and wildlife. We only had three miles or so to paddle to Cedar Hammock, our night’s destination, so didn’t feel the need to get on the water quickly, but were on the water around 1:00 pm. Shortly after getting on the water, we were seeing Egrets, Ibis, and sunning ‘gators as we paddled down an old canal. After a couple miles on the shady canal, we turned north into an open “prairie”: acres of water with low grasses and shrubs dotted with small stands of trees covered with Spanish moss. Most of the overnight camping areas in ONWR are platforms, and the platform at Cedar Hammock is an assembly of molded plastic floating dock sections. Their installation, however, was somewhat flawed in that one end of the platform was anchored, while the other end floated, and changes in water level had distorted several dock sections between the fixed and floating ends. We were able to pitch our tent on a flat surface, but wet weather would have pushed us under the covered section of the platform where the damage was greatest. An anole watched us work on the platform.

After a dinner of Santa Fe soup and a cheesecake dessert, Tia spent some time with her journal, then proceeded to beat me at several rounds of Farkle.