Thursday, March 25, 2010

Everglades Challenge Report: Day 4


Up and off in the early daylight, thoroughly enjoying our sandy, secluded camp spot (above), we headed from White Horse Key for Everglades City’s Ranger Station and nearby CP2 at Chokoloskee.

Though the wind was against us, we made the delicious incoming tide up the longish Indian River, arriving at the Ranger Station around 1100. Grabbing my wallet, I headed straight up to the Ranger office for our Wilderness Waterway camping permits--another filter--with the campsites Lostman's Five and Shark River Chickee in mind. Sites were filling up fast, and the rangers had a white board up with all the full ones. A frustrating 30 minutes later, even though first in queue, knowing I was missing out on ice cream time, I had our permits for four kayakers in hand.

At the ramp, a group of Duke students were heading off in their rental tin canoes for a few days in the Ten Thousand Islands. I told them I was also at Duke, working at the Nasher Museum: “We love the Nasher!” Made my day.

We scooted under the causeway bridge and began the long paddle up to CP2 (above) behind the causeway, against the tide and wind, finally checking in at Chokoloskee's CP2 at noon. Seiche’s parents, Jerry and Mina, were there again to meet us, travelling the EC route in their RV. Topping up with a bit of water, depositing used WagBags, we headed off on our Wilderness Waterway (WW) adventure.

Paddling the Wilderness Waterway adds about another 48 kms (30 miles) to the overall EC route, but I can’t imagine doing the EC without not experiencing this section—it adds another whole exciting dimension and, you get an extra tooth for your troubles!

Dodging the stiff headwinds coming down the bay to the entrance of the WW, we scooted across to the more sheltered Lopez River—a slightly longer route, to meet up with the WW a mile or so on.

And on we paddled, into the night, through the very dark Alligator Alley, finally reaching Lostman's around 2015, having paddling 43.5 kms (27 miles) just from Chokolokee.

Scareman was already bunked for the night, with his huge tandem Passat and ama/aka system. We soon had him up and chatting as we ate a cooked dinner. Paddling the route unofficially, after missing the start due to illness, he was happily doing as much of the route as possible. A good, keen man.

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