April 04, 2003

Okefenokee Journal Part I

Sunday morning, 4:30, and I am up clucking around putting together all the last minute things on the list for the swamp trip: stuffing my bag in the compression sack, deflating and packing my Thermarest Nate sent me from Vermont, checking the list of food in the fridge one last time. I checked compulsively once more to be sure I had plenty of sunscreen; I carried the bottle with me to the door to let the dog out. The outside floods came on, and all my planning instantly seemed an absurd waste of time. Sunscreen. Right. Better to travel hopefully than to arrive, I said aloud, looking out on the heaviest snow of the season... thick, wet, sticky snow coming down at 2" an hour.

Crestfallen is too mild a word to describe what I was feeling. Double-minded, confused, disappointed and disgusted also work pretty well. The next hour was spent clicking all the weather maps and forecasts I could find... not that I put much stock in the crummy forecasts like the one the night before that had predicted 'up to an inch in higher elevations overnight'. The cost-benefit risk assessment machinery in the end tipped the scales toward going, and I set out in my winter parka in a magnificent snow that would have been spectacular to watch from inside the warm house, drinking cocoa. It was not beautiful as I labored along in 4-wheel drive, moving oh-so-cautiously for 45 miles along the one barely open lane in the interstate, white-knuckled and already mentally exhausted. This was not the glorious, joyous, free-at-last sunrise drive I had imagined so often in the past week. Better to travel...

By the time I got to Marks, there were 8" on the ground, and it was still coming down hard. The two canoes on top of his car looked ridiculous, the only color in a world of pure white... an incongruity, a cruelty joke, an anomaly...like the childhood 'find what's wrong with this picture' kind of puzzle. As we drove along in the gray slush heading south through the blizzard, I could just hear the truckers: "Look at dem idjits. Where tahell y'all think they're headed?" We were headed with any luck toward Spring, lily pads, alligators, and free-at-last. The Okefenokee Swamp. I vacillated between thinking this was the stupidest thing I'd done in a long time, and thinking I had made a wise choice to take the risks to make the trip. There would be risks ahead, but as we left the snow behind us, I began to feel that the benefits in the end would easily outweight the costs. But then, I could be wrong about that.

...to be continued...

Posted by fred1st at April 4, 2003 06:00 AM | TrackBack
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