Writer Annette Thompson has traveled to the Florida Everglades more than a dozen times. Here, mindful of the fragility of one of the South’s last wild places, she describes the things she treasures most.
I feel most immersed in The Everglades when paddling a kayak. My favorite spot is Hells Bay Canoe Trail. It winds through a maze of mangrove tunnels and links up with the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway. I once spent the night here in a sleeping bag atop a raised wooden platform called a chickee. When the sun went down, The Everglades began its serenade: a mosquito buzzing by my ear; the incessant chirping of tree frogs; a splash; a rustle; the hoot of a night owl. I was only 45 minutes from South Beach, but this was the wildest nightlife I’d ever known.
Much of The Everglades is a freshwater prairie. Starting in Lake Okeechobee, it becomes a shallow, 60-mile-wide stream that stretches 100 miles to the sea.