Birds, Crabs, Dead Gators, Oh My

So far at Flamingo in the southernmost tip of the Everglades, we’ve gotten out of the campground early each morning to hike (before the crowds). Then we fix lunch at the trailer and eat in the shady tent. Tracy walks Banjo and he or I clean the dishes and sort stuff (there’s always sorting). In the afternoons, we each workout, lounge about, explore on our bikes, whatever.

And we’ve been lucky that each evening we’ve been able to spend time online with friends through my AT&T connection (no wifi and no Verizon for Tracy), or we’ve sat outside in the tent. This campground is growing on me.

Christian Point

This is where we’d planned on hiking this morning, but it was way too muddy.

We keep seeing signs that trails have not been maintained due to recent storms, but until this one they’ve been in great shape. But this morning we got a glimpse of what the signs mean.

We had to climb over fallen mangrove trunks and weave around limbs to get through the wooded part of the hike.

The wetlands area was a thick layer of sucking mud on top of bedrock, that in some places was way below our ankles.

I’d worn my crocs because the last hike was literally a walk in the park, but here they almost got left behind.

I did leave a shoe behind in Vermont once, at Phish’s final music festival before they broke up (everyone thought they were breaking up, but really the guitarist Trey needed to get sober, and then they started touring again. The breakup is now called a hiatus.) But at that festival the rain created flooding that turned away line after line of cars that had driven up to Vermont to say goodbye to the band. We who were lucky enough to get in had to wade through mud thick like this, but we were too busy crying along with the band on stage to care. It’s funny, I just remembered I have this photo on Facebook that it pops up all the time.

I was crying here. What a strange festival. I do wish I still had that skirt.

Rowdy Bend

Back to the Everglades.

So we turned around after a half hour of struggle at Christian Point and tried the Rowdy Ben Trail that leads into yesterday’s Snake Bight Trail. This was one passable.

It looked a bit like walking into Mordor though, with damage done to trees from those recent storms, where all non-salt-water-tolerant trees had been killed.

This had been a large tree covered with that strangling fig, and it all died in the salt water upheaval.

Rising from the low water on the sides of the trail were more of the beautiful water birds I’ve come to know here. White ibis, the brown immature ibis, great blue herons and small blue herons. Osprey, red-shouldered hawk, bald eagles, cormorants, wood storks, white pelicans. My photos stink but my memory will hold, I hope.

While Tracy was looking at birds, I squatted beside the mud for a long time watching blue crabs hunt and mess around with each other. Some had red-tipped claws like this, and some were bright blue like the photo up top. I was mesmerized by their slow movements and bubbling mouths.

Almost back to the truck, and couple we passed going the other way told us to look out for a dead alligator. We should have been able to find it with our noses.

Clearly a park ranger had found it dead maybe on the road and brought it back here so people wouldn’t stop to gawk, but its body was nevertheless a mystery. Something or someone had pulled the skin from its tail off over its body to over its head. But not taken the skin. Vultures had picked the bones clean, but the dried skin remained, inside out and hard (Tracy poked it with a stick.)

What a strange thing to find. Maybe tomorrow we’ll find something stranger!