Trials and Tributaries in the Big Thicket

A kayaker can easily lose her way in the labyrinth of the Big Thicket's cypress-tupelo swamps. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
A kayaker can easily lose her way in the labyrinth of the Big Thicket's cypress-tupelo swamps. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)

BIG THICKET NATIONAL PRESERVE —Ranger Leslie Dubey lifted a paddle and dipped it into the still brown waters, her kayak gliding as noiselessly as the great blue heron that just slid across our path in these cypress-tupelo sloughs.

Two decades spent probing this once-impenetrable wilderness and interpreting it for visitors have made Leslie a true Big Thicket denizen. So naturally, when I followed her into the bayou on a sunny Saturday in March, I left the navigation to her and focused on the scenery, alternately shooting photos of the ancient trees and glassy water and trying to keep up. I was mindful of the danger for my cameras should I hit a snag and tip overboard, but the risk of personal danger had not yet occurred to me.

 Soon enough, it would.

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