Saturday, December 29, 2012

You want to go canoeing, where?!?

When I was in my crazy crunchy-granola graduate school, we went on the most awesome backcountry canoe trip along the Wekiva River in Florida.  It's possible that I told a few too many stories about how many alligators we saw because it was a 10 year long job to sell Doug on the idea of a canoe trip in the Everglades.

This spring, we started off our Fantastical Florida trip with amazing alliteration and by driving down to Louisville to pick up Vivacious Valerie and Daring Darren.  To be honest, the absurd alliteration didn't start until 10 hours into our 20 hour car ride.  We managed to drive halfway there the first night, then drove the rest of the way to Everglades National Park on our second day. The next morning, we got our backcountry passes and started our awesome adventure on the "easy" Hell's Bay Canoe Trail.

This trail is considered easy because it each turn through the crazy curvy mangrove swamp is marked--not because the canoeing is actually easy. We eventually improved our rusty canoeing skills and managed not to kill each other or get lost in the first long day's paddle to our first chickee.

So, canoe camping in this area of the Everglades means setting up camp on platforms several feet above the surface of the water. This is necessary for two very important reasons. First, so (long scaly) critters don't visit and because there's no dry land. We passed a lovely and only slightly buggy evening. There was fishing...with not too many bites, but Doug did manage to land one fairly tasty catfish.

The next morning, we headed out for our next chickee (camping in Hell's Bay allows only one night on each campsite). This part of the trail had more open water and wider trails through the mangroves. We spent our last lovely evening in the Everglades on the Pearl Bay chickee and then packed up to head home the next morning. The paddle back to the trail head seemed way easier....and while we didn't technically see any alligators while we canoed, we did heard one slip into the water and watched the movement of water as something big swam under our canoes.

After we repacked the car and got some much needed showers, we headed out towards the Keys. We lucked into finding an open camping spot at Curry Hammock State Park. We spent a few nights there while we explore the area, ate tasty seafood, and celebrated Doug's birthday by going deep sea fishing!

We also got all the way to the furthest tip of the continental US, as we made it all the way to Key West. And then we turned around a retraced our trail back home again...finding fabulous food, beautiful beer, and ridiculous roadside attractions all the way home.

And just imagine, just a few months later, we did another crazy canoe trip in the other direction...Boundary Waters here we come!

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