My Trip Along The Wilderness Waterway- The Culmination Of A Thirty Year Quest

Beginning in early winter 2008 I determined to fulfill my dream of canoeing the length of the Wilderness Waterway running between Everglades City and Flamingo Florida. That is a ninety nine mile crossing. By January 2009 I was ready to give it a try. At the beginning of February I finished the journey. It was a great adventure.

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THE FIRST RULE OF USING THE WILDERNESS WATERWAY- LEAVE IT AS PRISTINE AS YOU FOUND IT
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Friday, April 4, 2014

Toward The Coast

Taken during a trip out to one of the barriers islands north of the Park. I found an inside route off the marked channel which both cut off travel distance and allowed me to get out of the incoming tide. I did not have my motor on this trip, so every advantage was taken to ease the paddling. Here I have emerged from the shortcut and am on a wide channel which took me to the coastal island. I shot this keeping the birds level, a vantage which rendered the distant shore seemingly inclined.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Everglades National Park

Here is a LINK to the web page the Park Service has for the Everglades National Park.

Part way down the page, on the left, is a link titled "VIEW PARK MAP" which opens to a good map of the park, and includes the Wilderness Waterway and its related campsites. Once you open the map hit the + button to enlarge and you can see everything.

The Aftermath

Could I have found a more ominous title for this section? That word always conjures images of witnessing carnage. I'll have to consider another word, perhaps prologue is better, for there was nothing but good things and great memories and the usual equipment maintenance following my return home. Well, maybe not the usual maintenance, but certainly needed repairs and the satisfaction of a job well done when the broken is fixed. Take the stern for example. Rotten inside the fiberglass, it was an unstable platform when the waves kicked up. And, it really showed when I crossed those passes between White Water bay and the South Joe River. The wind had tossed that water into huge waves, and the pounding caused the motor to shift, it would have come off the vessel if I hadn't turned and rode with the cresting waves when I did.

These pictures show the scars on the stern where the motor moved, and the state of rot within the motor mount block. and, finally, that job well done I spoke of, the reworked motor mount; solid now baby!



Other highlights for the prologue must include the inclusion of my photo Dolphin Splash in Ann and Holly's book, (see above), the numerous times I've been able to relive the adventure as I bent one after another ear of friend and stranger alike; talking about has been almost and much fun and doing it, and starting this site as a chronicle (even if I have never found it possible actually finish this), the anticipation of doing it again and the hashing out of what I'd do differently and where I'd go next time. More on that last point to follow, (that's not a promise, it is just a goal).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Three Stages of The Trip: Early, Middle and Finish







1] View from the Sunday Bay Chickee at low tide. This picture was taken on my first attempt to course the WW. The evening before, I arrived at low tide and even after waiting for the a rising tide I had to use my paddle as a pole and pulled the canoe over mud to reach the platform. The channel from open water to the platform is shown on the right, (at the base of mangroves). The tide rose to high during the night, but had fallen so low by the time I left that I had to get out and pull the canoe over knee deep mud to escape. I recommend taking note of the tides before committing to using this location.

2] Sunday Bay at low tide.

3] The Nightmare. This picture taken at high tide shows some of the many tree falls that threaten to obstruct this route even at high tide and reputedly make it virtually impossible to transverse during low tide.

4] Self portrait with camera held at arms length. Taken the morning after arriving at Flamingo, while it was still cold.

5] Me with all my gear and paddle in hand. I rarely used the paddle, other than while going through the Nightmare I had opted for the lazy, and quicker, outboard motor propulsion. Photo taken by my sister Jodie Wright.

Anne and Holly's Pictures of Me Leaving Harnee River







1-4] These were taken by Anne McCrary Sullivan and/or Holly Genzen, I apologize for having lost track of which camera.

5] I took this one of Holly (left) and Anne while they were taking my picture.

Video- River Cruise

video

This is just a casual float along one of the narrower passages I encountered. It represents the type of experience I envisioned I would have all the way to Flamingo, just gently flowing water, ideal conditions for a leisurely journey. In reality it was severely atypical of the Waterway with its wide bays, open to the winds and subject to heavy wave action. Heavy waves, that is to say, for a fourteen foot canoe with less than a foot of free board.

I believe this is the Plate Creek. I am certain it is after I passed through Alligator Creek, where I wish I had thought to shoot in video, and checking my map Plate Creek is the next body of water that fits the bill.

Video- Flipper Leads The Way

video

This took place on my last day. After spending the night at Oyster Bay Chickee I made for the Joe River and Flamingo. As I crossed the last section of the upper bays this dolphin began to cruise beneath my canoe criss-crossing only just below my keel. Once across that last stretch of open water I made a wrong turn and ended up in Mud Bay. The dolphin had stopped following when I went to the right when I should have gone to the left. As I retraced my path and corrected course he rejoined me where he left off earlier. His reappearance at the very spot where I made my navigational error, and his then frequent surfacing ahead of me made it seem that he was telling which way to go. I called out to him that I had gotten the message, "okay, I get it, 'this way dummy', alright, I understand, I'm coming",.

This is the same dolphin that appears in two of the photos already posted. It was just after he sprung completely out of the water and somersaulted back in just feet from my bow that I remembered that I had a video function on my little camera. I caught the end of his full breach with the picture I call Dolphin Splash. The wake from his re-entry rocked my craft, an amazing moment in time.



A panoramic view of the sights from the camp ground where I stayed upon arriving at Flamingo. The camp ground is part of the National Park, and, though I came in from off the water after hours, I did seek out  the ranger the next day and paid the fee for use of the ground, the shower, and the view.

Visible are some of the islands of Florida Bay, I was surprised to learn just many there are as the maps never seem to show them, it always was my impression that the Keys were the only land south of the mainland.

This was taken at sunrise, not sunset, so when that orb comes into view I am aiming somewhat to the east.



A quick video, and the camera was not on target. But, if I tell you that the splash was a gator I made nervous, and his methods of escape was to get in the water it makes some sense. I showed this to a friend and Shirley was completely freaked out, and needed no explanation, she could see that it was a gator, and that it went in the water, and it gave her the creeps. Imagine if she had been there. It did not attempt to eat me.

Pictures- Page 5







1) Wildfire Ahead II (Lopez River)

2) Wildfire Ahead (Lopez River)

3) Holly and Anne at Harnee River

4) Gator- Broad River

5) Oyster Bay Chickee

Pictures- Page 4







1] Fishing Shack (ITMON, closest shot)

2] Electric Gelatin (comb jellys producing light show as catfish pass by)

3] Electric Gelatin (Shirley's enhancement)

4] Dolphin rolls ahead

5] Shark River (monitoring station)

Pictures- Page 3







1] Island in Shark River and monitoring station

2] Shark River (looking west)

3] The Nightmare (seems to come to an end II)

4] The Nightmare seems to come to an end

5] Broad River Bay mirrored shoreline

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pictures- Page 2

Lopez' cistern. This was all I ever saw of that pioneer's old homestead, I imagined that must be more among the wilderness surrounding this campsite, I did not go looking there. Inside that long low wall were some markers with names, I don;t recall them being headstones, but they had names, at least I think they do.





1] Fishing shack on island in the middle of nowhere II

2] Fishing shack on island in the middle of nowhere

3] Lopez River sunset

4] Dolphin splash (taken at the northern end of the Joe River)

5] Broad River

Pictures

Smallwood store


1]Heron At Florida Bay





2]Florida Bay as seen from
Flamingo campground


3]Florida Bay as seen from Visitor Center



4]Buttonwood Canal with Ingraham Highway Bridge in distance (looking south). This canal is the last water before the end of the line. Ahead lies the marina at Flamingo. There is a dam separating this water from Florida Bay, to continue on, if one wishes to boat in the Gulf, a portage is required.



5]South Joe River Chickee