I’d heard about Ocheesee from a co worker. I’d heard it was an off the beaten path swamp with miles of cypress tress, wildlife and nothingness. Sounds like my kind of place! I waited till it wasn’t so hot and made my way there in December.
It was a cool day with a strong wind out of the north. The free county boat launch is in the south end of the swamp on a large open area called the foot. I paddled into the north wind trying not to get soaked by the cold water. After not too long the open lake like area of the foot closes up and turns into a forest of cypress growing out of the swamp. Some of these trees are massive. As big a round as many large live oaks. I just missed most of the leaves changing their color but some trees still had shades of yellow, orange and red.
Off the foot I headed left, west. That’s the wrong way. It took a few hundred yards for me to realize that way wasn’t going to work. The lily pads were too dense.
About 10 to 15 minutes later I saw a reflector marking the boat run. The boat run is a path that’s marked for navigation that surrounds various sections of the swamp. Some parts are quite narrow. So much that my kayak was a tight fit. Basically, you paddle from check point to check point. I wouldn’t recommend getting off track unless you really know what you’re doing.
I made the two mile or so loop and stopped to take some pictures when I heard a loud splash close by. I caught the back half of a giant fire breathing dragon sliding off into the water maybe 25 feet away. This was in all honesty the biggest gator I’ve seen while kayaking. Luckily it wasn’t interested in me and I never saw it again.
The sun setting in the western sky made the last set of navigation markers hard to see but tracking straight took me back to where I started on the loop.
The paddle back the launch through the foot was calm and rewarded me with a nice sunset.