Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bear Lake Canoe Trail - Day 1

So I volunteered for the first time at Everglades National Park on the Bear Lake canoe trail. The Bear Lake Canoe Trail has been closed for years, it was dredged back in the 20's during the time of reclamation, the hundreds of miles of canals that severed and crippled the natural flow of water that has since been hampering the natural order of things in the ecosystem throughout South Florida.
The canal was dug and has remained since, covered by years of dead falls, brush, and whole trees due to storms and hurricanes. The tidal flow was no-existent until Thomas Rahill came along with his partner Jim and they volunteered to clear the debris and make Bear Lake accessible once more. The work those two men have done is nothing short of extraordinary, working with equipment dating back in design to the 1890's. Since this is a national park everything must be done with the utmost respect and care to ensure that no trace of our work is left behind.

Tom is quite the character and immediately gives the impression of a big-hearted woodsman, his knowledge of the Flora and fauna is incredible and it betrays his deep passion for the park in a most intriguing way. Out of respect for Tom and the project I will refrain from going into too much detail as to the work involved as their have been a few obstacles that could become obstructions if too much is said regarding the nature of the work. Once the trail is done Tom feels there will be little objection to continuing on from Bear Lake to Gator Lake and then eventually all the way down to Lake Ingraham, restoring the safe inland passage, that was the Homestead Canal, to Cape Sable.

I will be in this for the duration and although it is back-breaking, hot, sweaty, wet, gator-infested, mosquito-ridden, and tiring work I felt a sense of satisfaction like never before when at the end of the day I could say "I did this" and when it is all through I can only imagine how it will feel to see people paddling down the canal for the first time.

I got there early so I could go fish Flmingo for a couple of hours...jumped a tarpon near the marina and caught a few trout...damn full moon always messes up that morning bite.

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