Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hiking Florida :: Digesting Alligators

Alligator digesting a turtle
We did a lot of hiking while we were down in Florida. Flat hiking that is, as Florida isn't known for its hills. One of the places we explored was the Everglades. The landscape is gorgeous and varied from one area to the next.

Everglades River of Grass
We hiked through marsh lands that looked like a savannah, tree hammocks, dense mangroves to wide open ponds choked with lilies that are home to birds, turtles and alligators. The trails were easy to hike as there was a network of wooden bridges that made it easy to navigate through the marsh.

Close up of grasslands with White Ibis
One of the most interesting things we saw was an alligator up close, on land. We chatted with the park ranger who explained that this guy had been lying there (perfectly still) for 5 days digesting a turtle he ate. She explained that if you looked at his stomach you could see the circle from the turtle's shell and the gap just before his hind legs showed how stretched his stomach was from the turtle. 

The area is considered a tropical wetland, and it serves as a drainage basin for southern Florida. One term I loved (identified by writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas) was "River of Grass." Which is just so true. When you look out over the grassy savannah you realize that it is not solid ground, but a large waterway filled with dense grass. During the wet season this slow-moving river grows to 60 miles wide and 100+ miles long. 

Marjory was a journalist, feminist and environmentalist. When she was younger she spoke out on women's suffrage and civil rights. In to her 70s, she took a central role in protecting the everglades and earned the nickname the Grande Dame of the Everglades. She lived to be 108 and and collected all kinds of awards including a Presidential Medal of Freedom. I would have loved to spend a bit of time with her listening to the tales of her life.


  1. Ooh, another place I'd love to visit someday!
    I like that term as well. A remarkable woman indeed!

  2. You make it look and sound enticing despite alligators! Glad you were able to enjoy your getaway from the big city!

  3. Wow, I can't imagine living to 108. Amazing. Does the alligator actually digest the turtle shell? Or does the shell come out more or less intact? Just a little tidbit I wondered about :-)

  4. I'd certainly lay there for 5 days if I had had a turtle for lunch! lol!! Nice river of grass!

  5. I think I would've been freaked out seeing the alligator so close. But at least he was too full to move and be a threat! Kinda feel bad for the turtle though. :(

  6. The everglades is on my bucket list! I can't wait to experience it. It must have been amazing to explore this unique area. I'm not familiar with Marjory's but now I am interested!

  7. Wow, what a hike! What an experience! I have never heard of Marjory, I have to look her up now! Thank you! Happy Easter!
    (Poor turtle!)

  8. you are bringing back some loooooooong buried memories with these photos. What beauty and wonder you saw on your flat hike. Oh the Stories the Grande Dame could tell to those who wanted to listen. I would have sat right next to you, all ears!


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