for you snow bound northern paddlers:
Tuesday, Dec 10, at Collier Seminole State Park
From one extreme to the other !
We paddled the Turner river which is our favorite river in the entire Everglades. Last year the water level was so low, that we ran out of water after about a mile and a half.
This year the water level was so high that in the mangrove tunnels, if we didn’t duck our heads every ten or fifteen feet we would be decapitated by the overhead canopy.
The Turner starts about a half mile east of the Tamiami Trail as a fresh water swamp that is slowly getting swallowed by the (weeds) that have been enveloping it and then flows for ten miles to the Gulf where it enters at the beginning of the Everglades ninty nine mile wilderness waterway.
What makes it so unique is it offers every type of flora starting with fresh water cat tails, pond lilies, etc and then transitioning to Palmettos, saw grass and then finally mangroves.
Shortly after the launch it is a very narrow, for most part one boat width, and then for the next four miles it remains very narrow as it flows through long mangrove tunnels interconnected by tiny ponds. The mangrove tunnels are so dense that in most of them you can’t see the sky through the canopy and as a paddler enters one of the tiny ponds if he doesn’t know the exit it appears he is trapped with out one. Eventually the one boat width becomes two, then fifteen feet and the mangrove tunnels are left behind as it opens up into much larger lakes.
This year we were most impressed with how healthy the pond lilies and eight foot tall grass cane was. The pond lilies were the most beautiful we have ever seen, and their larger then dinner plate pads were a brilliant green as was the cane.
We did an out and back paddle turning around when we got to the larger ponds. On the way we only saw a few small gators, but coming back there were quite a few of them, and one of them (a decent size one) refused to move and gave us the evil eye from five feet away, as we eased by it,
We both got a good paddling work out along with a few mosquito bites. Why is it, that you never see or hear one while paddling, and then when the bow of the canoe gets stuck between a few mangrove roots, and it takes both hands on branches behind us, to pull us back the whinnnning starts all around our ears ??
Miles paddled for the day – 10.7 (in the canoe)
Total miles paddled – 21.4
Wednesday, Dec 11, at Collier Seminole State Park.
They were predicting afternoon rain showers, so we decided to just hang out.
Naturally it didn’t rain until 6:00 PM !
Thursday, Dec 12, at Collier Seminole State Park.
We paddled The East River which is another of our favorites, launching in a Pond just off the Tamiami Trail and then winding our way through the wilderness of narrow twisty mangrove tunnels, lakes, ponds and open rivers worked our way to Fakahatchee Bay in the Gulf where we pulled up on our very own hidden thirty foot wide, no-see-um plagued, shell mound beach before heading back the way we came. On our return, just at the mouth of the river we were pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful Roseate SpoonBill with it’s bright pink plumage. We also saw what seemed to be an endless flock of white Egrets all heading south evidently to their wintering quarters.
One of the mangrove tunnels is exactly one mile long, and a novice or some one who has never been here before would be quite intimidated once in one of these tunnels waiting for the end to come while working their way through downed limbs, low hanging branches, and the jail-like bars of the mangrove tendrils each with it’s own spider web at face level. Nanci reminded me of how on our first time here we had to circle the perimeter of every pond before we could find the small five foot diameter hole in the mangroves that led either in or out.
On the way back, we saw a small Mangrove Water Snake lying on a log. We see several of these every year. I consider them the most docile of any snake that I have handled and if I could have gotten closer would have picked it up, but there was too much brush in the way.
We also saw quite a few gators along the way back, like we did in the Turner River the other day
Miles paddled for the day – 12.2 (in the kayaks)
Total miles paddled – 33.6
Friday, Dec 13, at Collier Seminole State Park.
Our last full day here for this year.
Since we had already done our first two favorite paddles here, we decided to do the third which is the Half Way Creek-Baron river loop trip. This is another one that is similar to the ones above, in that it is a series of ponds, small streams and mangrove tunnels, but rather than leading to the Gulf it is a loop trip that puts you back where you started.
About a half mile into the paddle we decided that since the water level was so high, we would take a detour off it and explore an old air boat trail. We have paddled as far as we could on this one before, before running out of water, but this time we got much farther into the wilderness of the everglades. It starts as a ten foot wide shallow stream, and then narrows as it goes through some clumps of mangroves here and there, and after we reached a solid wall of mangroves which is the farthest we had gone before, we ducked through a short what looked like an impenetrable tunnel that dumped us out into a boat wide stream with tall glade grass burying us on both sides. This led to a lack of any defined stream where we just pushed through the watery grass and “bread stick algae”, (lumps of algae, that can best be described a millions of whitish dog turds ).
Every so often we would come to a open path of water evidently made by a gator or some other swamp critter, but that would end after fifty or sixty feet. We eventually reached a point where we couldn’t make any more forward progress and turned back. This bushwhacking swamp side trip would not be able to be done with out our trusty GPS units where we simply followed our tracks back, but what was interesting was the fact that we were in such thick deep glades that at one point with the scale on mine set at twenty feet, I went right by a turn and progressed in the wrong direction for about fifty feet before we both realized it. Then when we back tracked, we even made another few wrong turns before finally finding the right track through some dense mangroves.
We finally got back to our ten foot wide stream and back to our main route.
This detour route was a birders paradise where we saw flocks of hundreds of Egrets, Storks, Ibis, herons and even another Roseate Spoonbill.
The remainder of our loop trip was as good as always, and about a half mile from our finish we saw the largest gator that we have seen so far slither off a bank beside us. We estimated it at about eleven feet long.
Miles paddled for the day – 11.6 (in the kayaks)
Total miles paddled – 45.2
Saturday, Dec 14, We packed up and moved to Bahia Honda State Park in The Florida Keys.
We will be here in the warmth and clear waters of the Florida Keys for the next three months, and will be here at Bahia Honda for the next fourteen days.
Canoe Pack Liner
1 Canoe/Kayak Trailer
Overstock Outlet Foods
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|Messages in this Topic|
ANOTHER FINE ACCOUNT!|
Posted by: Scupperfrank on Dec-15-13 8:31 AM (EST)
Jack, you & Nanci provide great descriptions of your peripatetic paddling, and we're all the more knowledgeable and entertained for it -thanks!
I find it hard to believe that you...|
Posted by: JackL on Dec-15-13 2:05 PM (EST)
took a wrong trail at Pennekamp.
sounds like a lot of fun,|
Posted by: tdaniel on Dec-15-13 8:47 AM (EST)
jack the exploring aspect of your paddling trips really appeals to me. I notice you cover a lot of ground errrr I mean "water" as well. Most of my trips are under six or seven miles. I just started to keep a brief river log. I wish I had done it years ago. Here in wv its all about the water levels and remembering what I like or didn't like about a particular trip is getting harder to do so writing it down should help.
Posted by: dougd on Dec-15-13 1:11 PM (EST)
I needed that! 12" of snow and a broken promise on a borrowed snowblower cause mine is still in the shop! Might be time to think about moving out of this god forsaken ice box!
Posted by: barracuda on Dec-15-13 6:26 PM (EST)
This is the time of year I miss Florida
That last entry was the real nail |
Posted by: spiritboat on Dec-15-13 7:21 PM (EST)