We also hiked on a number of the trails, many of which are between ½ mile and 3 ½ miles (which is nice when it’s hot and humid) but incredibly varied, offering a glimpse into multiple habitats and wildlife. Our friends Al and Bonnie joined us for a few hikes one weekend.
We also went canoeing and kayaking and rented a flats boat for half a day. Being on the water gives you a very different view of the different habitats and wildlife. We discovered one of our favorite canoe trails on a ranger-guided program on Nine Mile Pond, which had some very technical and fun areas to paddle in.
On this particular trip, we heard alligators bellowing – a mating call – for the first time. Their mating season usually starts in March, but they apparently are starting early this year. The sound is a scary and very deep rumble you can hear for a great distance and is accompanied by a mating display of arched backs and inflating their throats.
On that same trip, we were supposed to see “Croczilla” the largest known crocodile in the park (14 feet long or so!), who makes this pond his home. But he wasn’t around that day. So we went “Croczilla” hunting on Nine Mile Pond on another day and found him there in all his splendor.
Another favorite activity was “pond hopping”. On our way to and from other activities we’d stop at various ponds to check out the wildlife and add to Hector’s massive number of photographs of the park. We even got to know certain birds and alligators that always hung out in the same places. But we also saw that on different days, and even at different times in the same day, the amount and type of birds in each pond would change.
We participated in some other ranger-led programs, more on this later.
And we signed up for a group boat tour of Florida Bay.
Two weeks at the Everglades was clearly not going to be enough.