Shark Valley and the Everglades

What better way to spend a Sunday than biking 10 miles through Shark Valley and then spending the rest of the day hanging out in the Everglades? Of course it’s always better when your partner in crime joins you and provides video play by play of what is going on. We had originally planned on going to Shark Valley last weekend but due to me being sick and basically incapacitated for an extremely long time, we postponed our trip till the following week.

Shark Valley is located in Everglades National Park and it’s basically a 15 mile path for bikes and pedestrians to traverse through the Everglades. The weather last weekend was cool and perfect for biking, but the weather this weekend was sunny and hot. Like dehydration quick type hot. Another tip besides bring an abundance of water to Shark Valley, is get there early. Shark Valley has a limited number of parking spaces within his gates and a majority of people park outside the gates on Tamiami Trail.

As we began to pedal our way out onto the path at Shark Valley we were already greeting with alligators hanging out by the path as well as numerous great blue herons, egrets and anhingas. That was one of the things that made we want to go to Shark Valley was the fact that the wildlife was so close and accessible. A few times alligators were no more than 2 feet from us. I won’t lie it was an adrenaline rush getting so close to these alligators and knowing that in an instant they could lunge at me and that would be it.

The landscape was awesome to gaze upon. It’s the dry season now so where there would typically would be water, it was just a dry piece of land. Wading birds gather around small pools of water and picked off any food they could find. Mangroves and cypress trees were covered in dry mud giving us a glimpse at how high the water once was.

We biked 10 miles and basically my knees called it quits. We headed back gathering our last looks of Shark Valley. When we got back to the truck all we did was guzzle copious amounts of water. Parched was an understatement. It felt so good to drink cold water and just sit in my truck relaxing.

Our day in the Everglades was far from being over. We left Shark Valley and headed west to Loop Road. Loop Road is a dirt road that stretches 25 miles approximately and the views along Loop Road were amazing. We drove through cypress forests, pine forests and other strands of trees.

As we drove through Loop Road we came upon this amazing scenery of what it looked like a river running straight through a section of trees called the Sweetwater Strand. Alligators were just hanging out as well as herons and egrets. We were both so amazed at this site. It was so beautiful as well as peaceful and tranquil. As we leaving we ran across a snake in the road, a water moccasin, I believe. I stopped to take photographs of it, from inside my truck of course. I’m not a snake friendly person and will 10 times out of 10 freak out and run away at the site of a snake.

I read about the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve one day perusing the internet looking for places where Florida panthers have been seen. This place was mentioned quite a bit so we decided to try out panther luck. We drove down this narrow dirt road keeping our eyes peeled for any sightings of the endangered big cat. After driving 15 miles or so we decided to turn around as it was getting dark and I was not trying to be stuck out there at night. As we were leaving I spotted something in the road, deer. A couple of them were darting across the road from one forest into another. We sat there watching them, all the while hoping a panther would jump out and maul one right in front of us. Ok, I wanted to see the mauling but it’s nature as its finest.

After being disappointed with no panther sightings we headed down to Everglades City to catch the sunset. Everglades City is situated on the Gulf of Mexico and it proved to be an awesome backdrop to catch the sunset. We drove over a bridge and located the spot where we would camp out watching the sunset. This is one reason why I love Florida so much. One minute we’re in a swamp and the next we’re on a beach on the Gulf of Mexico watching the sunset.

We just sat there watching the sun go down and just like out of movie pelicans were flying by and fisherman were returning with their catch of the day. I waited till the sun became really big in the sky and started to photograph the sunset all the way up until the sun dropped below the horizon. It was a great end to an amazing day.

Shark Valley Anhinga

Great Egret Everglades

Great Blue Heron Everglades

Shark Valley Alligator

Shark Valley Alligator

Big Cypress Alligator

Shark Valley Alligator

Cypress Strand Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve

Sweetwater Strand Big Cypress

Sweetwater Strand

Everglades Water Moccasin

Gulf of Mexico Sunset

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