Alligators in the Bushes

Cumberland Island Swamp

So, I shared with you the beauty and wonder that we experienced at Cumberland Island, but one thing did happen there that I personally found to be terrifying. As I have already shared, Cumberland Island is swarming with diverse wildlife. I have always had a respect for nature—probably in what could be described as a romantic way—I can just gaze at it and feel peaceful and inspired. I know that sounds cheesy, and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but being outside in pure, unadulterated nature just takes me somewhere else, ok?

Cumberland Island put in perspective for me that nature is not only beautiful, but it is dangerous, and has every potential for being deadly. I know that sounds dramatic, but Cumberland Island is not a zoo. You are in the wild with wild animals. When you are walking around minding your own business with nothing but a bottle of water and a camera to defend yourself, you don’t stand much a chance against a ten-foot gator.

Cumberland Island Snake

Here is the story: Jeremy and I were standing on a boardwalk. He was taking pictures of a water snake and I was gazing dreamily at the lily pads pondering the meaning of life. An old lady walked around the corner and interrupted my thoughts. She told us that there was a huge gator over where her husband was. We followed her around the bend and her husband informed us that the gator had been lying across the base of the boardwalk but it got spooked and ran. He wasn’t sure where it went. All four of us timidly stepped off the boardwalk and onto the grass. We all backed away from the boardwalk and towards the woods giving the swampland a respectful distance as we searched for the gator. Suddenly, behind us, the bushes began thrashing violently and a ferocious roar escaped from the angry beast.

Cumberland Island Gator, Concealed in the Bushes

And then, my heart fell out of my butt. Farewell my love, it’s been a wonderful seven years of marriage. No, but really, we all ran, even the elderly couple. And then we all laughed. What else was there to do? Even though no one was hurt, I think we all felt like we had just escaped a brutal mauling. Jeremy and I didn’t actually get to see the gator, but that didn’t matter. Hearing him was plenty of proof for us. I imagine him with bloodstained teeth and a missing eyeball.

After that, we were a little squirrelly around bushes. Cumberland Island is beautiful with its wild horses and historic ruins, but the unfortunate and imperfect things that happen on our travels are what make them memorable. While at the time it was terrifying, this is the story we tell when people ask us about our trip to Cumberland Island. After a fun and intense day, we tiredly stepped on the boat to leave and I couldn’t help but wonder: how many of my beloved wild horses experience death by alligator?

Cumberland Island Wild Horses Eating Grass

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