Friday, April 3, 2009

Everglades Challenge race report: Day 5

Day 5: Darwin’s Place to Broad River campsite

I was awake for some time last night—a burning, itching sensation on the back of my hands near driving me to screaming. It may have been a reaction against the thin neoprene sun paws I wear on my hands, which I love, to protect the back of my hands against the sun, yet keeping my palms clear. I decided not to wear them for the rest of the race, instead using liberal dobs of sun screen. Thankfully, no more discomfort for the rest of the race.

We were off as dawn broke.

The Wilderness Waterway is a 30-mile (48km) complex river system of narrow channels joining often very large almost lake-like bays. I fear for an explorer’s sanity puttering around without a good chart.

A few four-footer alligators swam lazily past. In one bay a couple of fisher folk were playing a very, very large jumping silvery fish. KW asked what it was—a tarpon—the first time I’ve seen one and also explaining many of the late night very large splashes we
experience as we paddle along.

Every day we’d seen dolphins, many playing along with us, and today was no exception.

Around a bend, ThereAndBackAgain, heading the wrong direction—north—came acharging (with the tide and Pacific Action Sail up), to check on who was paddling this year—he taking a break from the festivities.

Readers of this blog’s coverage of my first 2007 EC may remember the saga of when SandyBottom and I “lost” KneadingWater and feared him drowned, all over miscommunication of routes we were taking. I still shake my head in amazement, that he and I (SB some time behind) made near enough the same mistake again, in exactly the same position. But this time the radios did work, and apparently I sounded quite cutting when advising him, “Don’t move!”

From the bay south of Big Lostmans Bay we cut west down Rogers River, and then south down the aptly named The Cutoff, to meet Broad River, the tide and wind full force against us. With a few hours of painful westward progress, we finally made Broad River groundsite for a late lunch break—probably around 1430 hours.

Photo: We’re stopping this early?!

With the tide thankfully in, it was an easy disembark, just running our boats up the slatted boat ramp—a very handy 30-or-so inches wide, yet fairly slippery. Lunch turned into afternoon tea…, which turned into cocktails…, all taken dangling our feet over the dock, watching the tide drop in volume, but still running against anyone paddling out—we couldn’t quite figure that one out.

It didn’t take too much persuasion for me to convince KW that this would be the perfect place for the night, as long as anyone else didn’t come and claim their booked site. And a few hours later, up arrived SB, just in time for additional cocktails and a gourmet dinner. Nearing dusk, my mosquito headnet offered full passing access for those dastardly no-see-ums, the material not being fine enough. Well bitten, we repaired to our abodes pre-dark, around 2000. Terribly embarrassing for such hardy racers…

Photo: Settling down for the evening at Broad River. KW standing on the boat ramp.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Great stuff! Thanks for posting. It has been great to read.