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Backpacker Magazine – September 2005

The Trip: Swamp-Whacking

Pioneer a brand-new trail in Louisiana's Atchafalaya swamp, where the gators are friendly. Really.

by: Luke Dittrich


You get into a rhythm. You find the most efficient stroke. You blank your mind and just move. Still, hours have passed since we left Billy Little, and we still haven't found land. The sun is dropping fast. We've covered so much distance today that we're now only a few hours from this morning's campsite. The last thing I want to do is paddle a few more hours.

After another bout of aquatic bushwhacking, a rickety old hunting cabin suddenly looms into view. It sits on stilts, and would be a great place to crash were it not for the creepy scattering of sunbleached deer skulls all over the deck. Besides, after our almost complete immersion into this swamp world, sleeping in a cabin would feel downright discordant. Less than a mile later, the bayou's east bank rises and dries out and becomes land that we are soon sitting on, eating on, sleeping on.

And then, James Proctor's voice is hollering through my cell phone: "You made it!" It's the following afternoon, and we've just pulled our kayaks out of the water for the last time, the thrum of interstate traffic above us once again. When Proctor arrives, he pensively finger-traces our route on the map as we recount the trip. After we tell him about the dearth of dry land in this particular sliver of swamp, I get the feeling he's not going to feature it on his Web site.

And, honestly, that's just fine with Vance and me. If we ever return to these lakes, we'd just as soon have them all to ourselves again.




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Chad from John Chance
Feb 04, 2010

I'm in a hotel in Vicksburg tonite and just stumbled across this site by accident and just wanted to say you guys couldn't have come across a more genuine, true, fun to be around cajun than Robicheaux. I had the good fortune to work with him on several projects when I was surveying with John Chance Inc out of Lafayette. We would contract him as an airboat driver to get us to those places in the swamp that were'nt meant for humans to be in. In fact, he led us into the St. Bernard and Plaqumine Parish areas right after Katrina to do some work for Entergy. I have since moved to another company but will always remember the time we spent running through the swamps with Ro. He is really an awesome dude and made "work" fun with his constant humor and stories. I'm working in central Louisian now which is close to home for me but I really miss my time spent in the swamps and marshes. Kim, is you read this tell Ro hello from Chad.

kim
Aug 19, 2008

Hello, I am Carlos wife, Kim..... He is still at them dang mudbugs. His hands are still like some of the cypress knees you found in the swamp and he still jokes about cutting me with his hands. Now do you have the book from this trip? I would love to buy one and suprise Carlos.My email is woohooagame1@yahoo.com thanks,Kim

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