Sunday, February 12, 2006

Beef Jerky, Hells Bay and the River of Grass

"Everglades has no single feature, no prominent point of interest now or ever. It is a mosaic of many things seen, smelled, heard and endured."

Daniel Beard - first superintendent of Everglades National Park

You start out in a midwest snowstorm and end up in Florida packing nothing but beef jerky, cut-offs, sunscreen, red and yellow kayaks. Travel is great when you do it this way. Homeschooling on the road. Beef jerky at it’s finest, "Catcher in the Rye" for reading and the thoughts of a new adventure.

A drive on the single road through Everglades National Park does not reveal the beauty and magic you can find there. We spent 2 days kayaking in this amazing place and left feeling like we explored only a very small bit of this river of grass.

The Everglades offer some pretty good kayaking spots like “Hells Bay” , “Noble Hammock”, “Nine Mile Loop”, “Mud Lake Loop”, “Bear Lake Canal”, “West Lake”. All come with the caution: “Tides and winds can significantly affect your trip. Do Not overestimate your abilities”. They ought to add “Don’t worry about the alligators - they don’t bite.”

The Native Americans named this place “The River of Grass”. We chose three trails, Hells Bay was one of tightly woven mangroves, West Lake was rough and wavey and a lot of “Need for Speed” fun, but the Nine Mile Loop is where you understand why the original inhabitants named this place the “River of Grass”. The description for this trail reads: “A scenic trail through a shallow sawgrass marsh with scattered islands of mangroves. Watch for alligators, wading birds, and an occasional eagle. Trail marked with numbered white poles. Motors prohibited.” It’s 5.2 miles and takes roughtly 5 1/2 hours to paddle - leisurely. There are 116 trail markers to be exact and it is one of the neatest paddles we have done yet.

Florida Everglades Information

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