I must say that I sometimes amaze myself with the stupidity of my ideas. First I must defend myself and tell you how I came to want to visit the swamp. A few weeks ago Dirt Man and I stopped by the visitor’s center at Merchant’s Millpond state park. It appeared so inviting with it’s replica wildlife and fauna. I couldn’t wait to go back and hike. Little did I understand that evil lurks in swamps. Nor did I know they had alligators there until I read the literature. Convinced they couldn’t get me if I stayed clear of the water, I still determined it to be a great place to explore.
Yesterday we arose to overcast skies and a mist in the air. I thought the day was doomed to inside activities. I was bummed because I had my heart set on walking that swampland. Early afternoon the sun poked through the clouds, and we were off to live out my desire for the day.
When we approached the swamp, we were greeted with sunshine. We were met with the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle and the more woodsy scent of bayberry. The forest exuded aromas of fruit, flora, and red cedar. My eyes were delighted by the violet hues of wild iris everywhere. The frogs bleeped and woodpeckers strummed. We even heard the scurrying of squirrel and deer. And then we came upon the one and only pair of hikers we encountered. (I had assumed the alligators ate them all. Little did I know there was something much more evil lurking in those waters!) This couple were aiming their camera up a tree. I assumed they were capturing lovely shots of birds. WRONG! They were taking pictures of a snake catching and eating a frog! Dang, I’d been looking on the ground for snakes. I had no idea I had to be concerned about them dropping out of the trees onto my head! My worry level went up about ten meters. I should have taken this sighting as an omen.
We traipsed along. Wylie and Dirt Man led the way. Surely if something was going to get us, it would get them first and be too full to eat me. Well, let’s just say they were not very good detectives. They both walked right past this black snake. Oh yeah, I saw him. Actually, in all fairness, he was quite a gentleman. He even posed for pictures. He was unconcerned with us. That eased me a little though I was still quite concerned about alligators. Of course, I had yet to encounter the evil one.
As we crossed the road to the other side, everything darkened. No wonder, that’s were evil hides. Even the water on this end of the swamp was murky, probably from snakes and alligator roaming in search of food.We decided to peer into the gloomy swamp from the boat ramp. Evil (Eastern Cottonmouth water moccasin) stared us straight in the eyes, and did not care much for the invasion. He thrust himself into the air, opening his mouth to take a plug out of us, revealing his massive white mouth. I nearly took out the steps scrambling up them. Dirt Man wanted a pic…this pic is courtesy of him as I ran away. Evil was not fond of getting his picture taken. The upper half of him shot out of the water again. Fortunately, he was too big and fat so his heavy rear was weighted in the muck. That really ticked him off. He tried to chase us. He came thrashing through the water underneath the wooden boat ramp. I half expected him to bore a hole through it and get us. Dirt Man wanted to know if I wanted to take the trail on that gloomy scary portion of the swamp. “No, I’m done. Let’s just go home.” Apparently, he doesn’t listen to me. We continued on
As we crossed the bridge, we did encounter some lovely sites such as these turtles sunning themselves. Still, I had not forgotten the evil one nor had I quit looking for alligators.
This is the first fish ladder I have ever seen.
Duckweed floats around the almost blooming lotus. Much of the pond is covered with duckweed and pollen.
This is my favorite reflection photo. My fear disappeared mometarily.
Even the bridge looks like a snake!
Again, I stuck Dirt Man and Wylie out front. We stopped for him to grab a stick…you know in case we came upon another evil one. Though he said they stayed in the water, this was just in case there was another mean kind like rattlers or copperheads. While he was preparing his stick, a sick smell overwhelmed me.
“I smell that horrible odor like something’s dead. You know the kind that snakes emit when they are setting off a warning?” Note that the last two we encountered did not do that, but I had always heard of it. I looked down and I saw it.
“Oh, crap Wylie is sniffing a snake!”
“That one’s dead. Don’t you see the bugs on it?” (Aren’t you happy I didn’t take a picture of that one?)
Well, no I wasn’t looking for bugs. Heck, I was lucky I even saw it all. We had been standing beside it for about five minutes before Wylie found it. Ok, I must admit that I think dead snakes are the good kind. However, it was a black one which Dirt Man claims is the good kind.
Parts of the swamp (the pond part) were beautiful and enjoyable. At one time, Dirt Man called back and forth to an owl. It wasn’t the kind that hoots. It called out what sounds like “who cooks who cooks who cooks for you”. It sounds funny. Dirt Man would call it back, and the owl would repeat it and come closer to us.
From that point on, everything appeared to be snakes. They came at me from everywhere. The limbs from the trees started reaching out to bite me. The sticks struck at me. Roots slithered across the ground and the vines popped out of nowhere. I became a walking jack-in-the-box. I was tormented for an entire two miles by these hideous creatures of my imagination. By then, I was begging to see an alligator. I thought an alligator to be a relief in comparison to the evil one! There were quite a few canoes on the swamp, though not on this side. Can’t say I blame them for sticking to the pond area. Last year (even last week) I thought I’d love to canoe out there. Now there is no way you’ll catch me in that water with the evils of snakes and alligators that would love to have me for lunch!