Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Category: Side Trips By: Chuck McNamee
When PTI’s Senior Supervisor Chuck McNamee is on the road with a crew, he pulls out a map of the best nearby hiking places, grabs his mountain bike and goes adventuring.
“One week we were doing work down near the Everglades. That’s beautiful country down there, so on my day off I set out for the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Didn’t see any panthers, but there was a lot going on worth seeing.
“I’m riding along and there’s this gator lying right across the path. He saw me coming and jumps right up on his back legs, leaping into the waterway alongside the path. Wish I had a photo of that one!
“One thing I hate to see is a gator that’s been poached for the meat of his tail, the carcass left off the beaten track for the vultures to get. Those gators down in Alligator Alley are pretty magnificent creatures, but I guess they’re just a meal to some people.
“Another time I was down in that same area just before the wildfires came. The drought had been so bad you could actually see the fish all congregated in the deepest part of the pool, just gulping for air, it was so hard for them to breathe. A short while after we’d finished our job down there, the wildfires engulfed that area where I’d been riding.”