Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Big Trip

Ok...this seems to be a very good back-up to the Swuanee River Maddness trip (the ferry is too costly at this point from Swuanee, FL to Fargo, GA). There are 3 very remote campsites in Everglades National Park: Willy Willy, Camp Lonesome, and Canepatch. They are ground sites located so far up in the Everglades that the water is fresh, I always thought that would be so cool to paddle in from the gulf and spend the night 20 miles inland with sweetwater around me.

The remoteness of the sites causes a problem as they each require a 15-20 mile detour from the Wilderness Waterway. We were supposed to go to Canepatch on the last trip but bad weather shortened the trip and we could not make the extra 20 miles with a 25knot headwind. So in order to truly visit these sites the trip must be long, 7-9 days, and not only that: There is no connection from the river systems leading from Willy Willy to Canepatch...so you have to paddle all the way out to the gulf and then down the coast to come up inland once again (nearly 40 miles in one shot...better to break it up).

I would like to push the most mileage early on in the trip and thus the first few days are all 15 miles or more, the longest paddle will be from Broad River to Canepatch at 20 miles. After this the days will get considerabley less in mileage. Here is the rough outline thus far:

Day 1 - Coot Bay Pond to Oyster Bay Chickee - 15 miles

Day 2 - Oyster Bay Chickee to Highland Beach - 15 miles (Mostly Open Water)

Day 3 - Highland Beach to Willy Willy (via lostmans key/River) - 17 1/2 miles (Some Open Water)

Day 4 - Willy Willy to Broad River Chickee - 15 miles

Day 5 - Broad River Chickee to Canepatch - 20 miles (1/3 Open Water)

Day 6 - Canepatch to Wastson River Chickee - 15 miles

Day 7 - Watsons River Chickee to Hell's Bay Chickee - 12 miles

Day 8 - Hell's Bay to Coot Bay Pond - 9 miles

The other big problem I have is getting someone to tag along with me for 8 days in the back-ass of the backcountry...Flex is the obvious choice as we have done these trips before but now that I work with Flex, and we are the only full-time employee's at the shop it poses a problem in getting the days we will be off covered. Hopefully we can manage this during Feb. The dates that look good thus far are the 16th through the 23rd, now we just have to work on getting 6 days covered at the shop...we shall see.

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