National Geographic : 1958 Jan
Seemingly Impenetrable, the Primeval Forest Yields a Watery Passage Poled in a square-ended canoe, Dr. and Mrs. Grosvenor cross one of the Lettuce Lakes into the wonderful world of a cypress swamp-a world of brilliance and shadow, of exuberant tangled growth and a multitude of wild creatures. Deep in this wilderness solitude, intervals of stillness are shattered by the shrill and clamorous calls of swamp birds. "I can't exaggerate the beauty of the swamp," he added. "Seeing it, I promise you, will be a moving and unforgettable ex perience. But it will be rough. Wear sneakers and old clothes, for we'll be wading through the swamp up to our knees and waists." So, with my parents, Dr. and Mrs. Gilbert Grosvenor, off I went through Corkscrew in the wake of the resolute Mr. Baker. That trip, which took place nearly three years ago, was my introduction to the sub tropical water forest. Recently, however, I returned and strolled with leisurely ease and dry feet through the same areas that had begrimed and tired our party. If this seems a bit miraculous, I can assure you that a visit now is, quite literally, child's play. Thousands of casual visitors, includ ing many children, this winter will explore the green maze from the comfort and safety of a 3,658-foot boardwalk that winds into the finest part of the swamp (pages 111, 112). 100 The walk leads deep into a naturalist's unspoiled paradise. There one may contrast delicate orchids with dozing alligators, or tiny songsters with lordly birds such as the Amer ican egret and the wood ibis, the only stork native to the United States. Area a Forbidding Mystery for Years Corkscrew Swamp lies just 25 miles south east of Fort Myers, Florida, and 120 miles by the Tamiami Trail from Miami (see South eastern United States supplement map). Yet, until acquired by the Audubon Society, it was virtually as inaccessible to the average person as a mountaintop in the Himalayas. Swamp-wise hunters and trappers, plus an occasional timber surveyor or naturalist, ven tured into Corkscrew despite its muck, alli gators, and venomous snakes. So did a few groups of visitors led by experienced guides. For others the swamp remained a forbidding mystery.