Wilderness Waterway Paddle over 9 days
Flight over included extended layover in Sydney as flight in was late. Usual 13hr ½ sleep & wine trip. San Francisco layover included flight change as late-in. So via NY & my seat is window and the Lady in the aisle seat is wheelchair bound. To amusement of Air Hostesses I use the overhead locker as a swing bar and “athletically & graceful as a Gazelle” jump into my seat. On landing, I’m happy to wait for my co-passenger to be assisted into a W/chair – but no! x3 Air Hostesses insist I exit in the same manner – a tad embarrassed, I manage to extricate myself from the window seat to the aisle. 6hr layover includes buying a ‘fleece shirt’ as I’m in NW WA clothes – it was -2C outside but felt -4C @ 2am while waiting for my 9am connection.
Miami (Sth Beach) – Caught up with my ex-Bermuda workmate and needless to say ‘laughter & wine’ were the ingredients. Staying on Espanola Way which is the “Spanish Dining strip” Tapas, Red Wine, Mojito’s and a vibrant ambience. Andrew & I agree that we are getting too long in the tooth to party as we did but what the heck.
So vehicle hired and Andrew drives me to Everglades City via the Tamiami Road. ‘Gators & Birds line the road – the amount of wildlife is amazing; we could have stopped every 1/2km just to take foto’s. But I’ve a timetable, or so I thought!
The term CITY is a misnomer as we arrive… It’s a spread-out town along the river bank leading to the causeway of Chokoloskee of about 1600 with the seasonal Holiday makers swelling it up to ~2500. The Glades people take pride in hanging onto the ‘Back-waters’ hillbilly accent, so I find it even harder to follow a conversation – all balances as they just look at me when I speak…
We find a great ‘Seafood’ Diner for lunch and watch Pelicans alight onto the Airboats’ decks as they move through the waterway. Time to move on, Andrew is off on the return trip and I’ve unpacked the new kayak and set it up. Dry bags to fill, water bags to fill and a gear sort and balance for the trip to be done.
So hire a bike and cycle to the camp store for a spare Gas bottle. Found it and was asked if I need one? Confidently I say ‘Yes’ only to find at the end of day 1 that my 1st bottle only had enough for 2 cups of coffee. Ah well, I’ll pick up another at the end of the trip.
Sunday: Up with the ‘Fishermen’ who are launching around 5am. A few trips later my gear is on the landing, kayak resting ½ in water and I start to load. Reedge from the marina checks in and queries ‘Tide Charts, Weather forecast, my ability etc.’ It was heart-warming to experience his concern though my Oz ‘She’ll be right, mate’ attitude did kick in mentally.
So maximum payload for the new kayak is 135kg: moi 85kg, 23kg Camp gear, 42kg water, 6 kg Dried food & Fresh Oranges later I’m sitting low in the water at about 155-160kg and have ~5 cm of free-board.
Off down the channel alongside the causeway to Chokoloskee and that ‘Tide Chart’ thing happens! It is still receding and after 1.5NM I have to return as I’m sitting on mud. So under the bridge and begin again along the causeway, run around the south side of Chokoloskee and there’s the Turner River leading to the Hurddles.
The actual Paddling trip is here in more “long-winded” detail…
Great trip, achieved more than I’d planned and already planning return in 2016 to do it again.