No Name Strand
All the major ones are named, or are they?

Among the many mysteries of the swamp:

Cypress domes are usually not named.

No Name Strand

That’s unusual because cypress domes are the swamp’s most iconic (or shall we say, trademark) feature by many accounts. They number in the hundreds of thousands, maybe more. But unlike lakes and bays, they remain nameless to this day. Think about it, even stars — however faint — get labeled with a number or a common name of some sort. In particularly, I’m thinking of Betelgeuse, Orion’s upper right shoulder, an orange-glowing red giant located 642 light years from earth.

Then there’s the case of the cypress strands. These are linear groves of cypress that carry the bulk of the swamp’s sheet flow. All of them are named, or all the major ones at least. In a landscape otherwise lacking geologic or topographic landmarks, strands stand out as major physiographic features that jump off the map. Major ones include Roberts Lakes, Gator Hook, Deep Lake, Cowbell, Barnes, Dayhoff and Garnett to name a few.

As good fortune would have it, the cartographers didn’t see them all, or see all of them fit to name. Or maybe in the years since the cartographers first drew up the maps the cypress grew back.

Not a major strand, but a swamp flow way none the less. That’s Birdon Road in the background, looking northeast

Whatever the case, it’s good to know there’s still some unnamed real estate out there in the swamp, that nobody’s ever named, and possibly never explored. A frontier then and a frontier now, the swamp is a boundless expanse that has interior regions still waiting to be defined.

Here’s to hoping they never are.

product movies

Flying south
Loop around Loop Road

There’s always lots to see …

On a flight over Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve.

We flew clockwise around Loop Road

On this trip south of Tamiami Trail, we see a swamp mirror (reflecting the clouds), the Pinecrest Chain of Hammocks, Gum Slough, Loop Road, Sweetwater Strand and Gator Hook Strand and Trail.

big weather

Steaming swamp
Think hot asphalt after a cool rain

From the distance it looked like smoke …

Or maybe dust kicked up from the limerock road.

It looked primordial, but it was actually super chilled

Only upon closer inspection did we see it was steam.

The source?

Similar to a hot asphalt road steaming after getting cooled down by an afternoon shower, the wisps of water vapor hovering over the cypress stand were the result of an ice-cold drenching from a super thunder cell.

The super cell, looking north, about 15 mile east of the strand

As good fortune would have it, I actually took a photo of the thunderstorm about an hour before and 15 miles upwind from the steaming strand. The air among the wisps was incredibly cooled and the fragrance from the cypress intense. Landing and walking in the water was further proof.

The water was chilled as if it had hailed.

strands and sloughs

More than one?
And four to be exact

Big Cypress National Preserve has four major watersheds:

(1) Central Preserve, (2) Okaloacoochee Slough, (3) Mullet Slough and (4) the Everglades.

Major watersheds of Big Cypress National Preserve

Within each watershed are major drainages …

Were water is deepest and flows longest.

Those include sloughs and strands.

View of Gator Hook Strand looking southeast towards Roberts Lakes Strand, just downstream of Loop Road which, if you really squint, you can barely make out.

Between the strands are higher lying (but still soggy) marl and dwarf cypress prairie.

weekly wave banner

Sluggish swamp?
Just ask the cypress domes and strands

Some years the swamp fills up fast, practically overnight.  Other years, the summer rise is a slow slog, taking weeks even months.  

But usually by late July, summer

flooding has reliably returned …

Except this year.

Here’s a closer look: https://www.gohydrology.org

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birds eye view

Remember When
Kirby Storter in Summer 2017

Everyone remembers 2017 …

As the Year of Hurricane Irma.

Kirby Storer Boardwalk, looking south

But even before Irma struck,

The swamp was already filled up …

Thanks to 20 inches of June rain.

Same boardwalk, looking North

It was the wettest winter since 1995.

Both year’s the Trail overtopped

End of boardwalk

At the Collier, Dade and Monroe Tri County line.

Spoon-fed estuary

An estuary’s best friend …

Is an unpolluted and intact watershed upstream.

Can you see the cypress strand
in the foreground and the mangrove
estuary in the distance,
looking south?

 The swamp is ever so happy to share and send its freshwater south.

Hiding in plain sight

I thought I was filming … 

The Tamiami Trail.

It was a good light day,
considering all the clouds

Looking at it after the fact, 

It’s the cypress domes and strand that really jumped out.