After some hours in this strange forest I started on the return journey long before night on account of the difficulties of the swamp. On leaving the palmettos and approaching the vine-tangled half-submerged forest, I sought long and carefully for the trail without success, as I had drifted about too incautiously in seeking plants, but recollecting the direction I had come I took a compass bearing and started to penetrate the swamp in a direct line. I had a sore weary time in pushing through the tanglements of fallen and standing and half fallen trees and bushes and knotted vines as remarkable for their efficient army of locking and lancing prickles as for their length and innumerable blossoms, but these were not my greatest obstacles nor yet the countless pools and lagoons full of dead leaves and alligators. It was that army of cat-briers that I must pass. I shall, thought I, have to find that narrow slit of a lane before dark, or spend the night with the mosquitoes and alligators without food or fire. The whole distance was only a few miles, but a traveler in the vineless North can form no idea of the crooked, strange difficulty of pathless locomotion in these thorny watery tangles of the South, especially in pitch darkness. I struggled hard but kept my course, leaving my general direction only when compelled by a flower of extraordinary promise which I wanted to possess for a specimen, or when I had to make the half circuit of a tree pile, or of a deep lagoon or pond. In wading I never attempted to keep my clothes dry, because the water was too deep and also
Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist