Holy Okefenokee

Barry Meyers-Rice (barry@mips3.as.arizona.edu)
Mon, 19 Sep 1994 23:14:05 +0700


This weekend the missus and I drove north into the mountains to attend
a conference. The next day I darted off into one of the nearby Apache
reservations to look for Utrics. I found a new location for U. macrorhiza
and thought for a while it might be the fabled U.minor in our state. But
no, just a stunted form of the usual U. macrorhiza.

OK, I'm a hard-boiled scientist, right? Not superstitious. But driving around
alone for several hours on the reservation starts doing things to you. A lot
of the places are closed to non-indians because they are sacred---you
never know if you'll be able to get to such and such lake. And when the
missus and I have spent time on the Hopi reservation, after a couple of days
of Kachina dances and tales of serpents in mountains etc you start changing
your perspective.

Well, the elk were out in big numbers---every pond I investigated had muddy
paths in them from the animals. Big animals watching you. I got to a pond/marsh
bordered on one side by a 500' cliff wall (I had topos with me). The place was
quiet. 30 minutes after I arrived I was treated to the sight of a hawk dive-
bombing and almost snagging a duck for dinner. This amazing event ended in the
duck crashing into the water and the hawk whistling back skywards.

After this eerie event I was exploring some sedges
by the water's edge, on a flat bed of grasses about 40' from some rocks which
marked the last piece of solid ground I had seen, when I realized that
not only was the ``ground''upon which I was standing on was reverberating
with every footstep, but it was slowly sinking under my weight. Oh dear.
So I started to walk briskly to shore but it was too late. One false move and I
was up to my bellybutton in the muck, and sinking! I managed to keep my wits
about me and let my legs go slack. By grabbing handfuls of sedges I dragged
myself slowly out of the squelchy stuff. I crawled back to land.

I had one more pond on my list to visit, but somehow the kick had been taken
out of me. I spent the rest of the day on shore.

Really, there is a point to my going on about this---be careful! There are
some dangerous wetlands out there, and you can make a mistake and get
yourself seriously killed.

I'm back to my plans of modifying some X-country skis so I can travel across
these mats more easily.