Ten Thousand Islands Report
(Everglades City)

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Report By:  gbailey    Date: 2/16/2011 
Rating:n/a     Photos: None     Map & Directions: View

(part 2 of 2) Feb 2011

My Report:


--- part 2 ---

Back at the campsite around 3 pm, we all had some relaxing time to talk politics, fishing, kayaking, etc. all in the shade now cast by the mangrove trees. The winds were from the north and the climate overall seemed to be perfect. Since we had one last sunset everyone got started with dinner a little early, allowing more time to shoot photos and enjoy the evening. Our firewood stack was still significant, although the high tide had once again washed away our fire pit. With lots of onlookers, Andy started and I finished another perfectly designed pit, precisely 6 inches lower than the previous night (to allow the lower tide to reach it later tonight). After sunset saw 3-4 satellites pass over-head but no UFOs this night. At 11:45 pm the high-tide reached the fire’s red hot coals and within 5 minutes had silenced it for good. Time to hit the sack and get some rest for the next day’s 13 mile paddle back to Everglades City.
Saturday morning was picture perfect and with a low tide occurring at 10:30, we had planned to break camp and start our trip back no later than 11 am. We carried the empty boats out to the far sandbar (50 feet out) and began the methodical task of disassembling the tents, chairs and tables to see if all of it would again fit inside of our skinny boats. At 11 we gathered for our final group photos and could sense the tide waters were returning, as our boats were now gently drifting away while we said our goodbyes to and took our final look at White Horse Key. It was a great place to stay and we shall return again some day.
As we paddled south again, toward Round Island, we had gentle winds from the east and tiny wavelets on our beam side. At low tide Round Island has lots of shallow waters, with a very long skinny stretch of sand on the mainland side. Steve, Mike and I decided to cut on the inside and see how deep (or shallow) the water was, while all the others paddle ¼ further out to stay in deeper water. We got lucky and only had to portage 20 ft. of the sand spit, which actually completely disappeared within the 5 minutes we spent there taking photos and eating a quick snack.
Back on the water again with the group, we arrived back at Camp LuLu within 1.5 of leaving White Horse. The “friendly” host campers from Thursday were gone so we felt safe to go ashore and look for Hermit Mike’s cottage. Camp LuLu had changed a bit in three years, with the sand grasses and mangroves trees filling in some of the open areas and along the water’s edge. However, there is still lots of room for kayak campers until the next tropical storm (or hurricane) clears out even more. After a 30 minute break for lunch we were back in the cool water again, this time with the anticipation of finding our way back through West Pass. A ½ hour later we had reached “Decision Point”, a point on my map where we have three routes to choose from, of which only one would get us back to our takeout. The other two would lead to dead ends, but only after paddling for a couple of hours! It had been three years and nothing looked very familiar, but after a few moments of map review and GPS verification, we made the right decision. Now with a fast moving tide pushing us along near 3 mph (without paddling), I had to remind everyone to take an easy pace, else we’d arrive back too soon, with low water at the take out making for some muddy times. The West Pass is very unique, with everything shades of green, the water and mangroves contrasting vividly with the snowy white egrets, nesting in the trees around every turn. The last of the fast currents dumped us into Bay Chokoloskee, with its width allowing more wind to create a light chop. Our last visit here put us into a headwind at this same point, 15-20 mph winds for the last 7-8 miles. This time we’d have no such challenge and could still feel the push from the incoming tide.
Looking ahead we could see a tall antenna marking Everglades City and along with one very loud airboat shuttling tourists out into Indian Pass, it was obvious civilization was just ahead. Arriving at 3 pm, our return trip had taken 4 casual hours and Ranger Ted was there to meet us when we landed. He was doing a fish catch survey, along with a sharp comic routine, making everyone smile and converse with him regardless of how tired they might have been. He would sing a few jigs and make up jingles instantly based on a quick answer to one of his questions. He obviously was enjoying his line of work!
After loading our gear and boats and checking the tie-downs twice, we headed off for our traditional end-of-trip eat fest. The Ivey House was just the ticket, with a great auce salad bar (Mike really, really loved the steamed shrimp) and a prime rib special, all served to us as we sat dockside watching the local pelicans and seagulls. Well, the prime rib wasn’t very special but the shrimp and the friendly service made up for that slight shortcoming. Just as we were finishing, a cloud of white biting gnats arrived, and affixed themselves to Debbie’s white shirt, forcing her and several others inside the screens. And that may have been the most significant bug attack we experienced over the past four days! Go figure.
As in our previous two trips, we really enjoyed paddling through this area. Maybe next time we’ll head south and find a new path out to the Gulf. And really get lost.

Participants and boats used:
Greg Bailey ---------------- Valley Nordcapp
Franklin Dickinson ------ Valley Aleut Two Sea tandem
Larry Gordon -------------- Valley Aleut Two Sea tandem
Debbie Henry ------------- Lincoln Schoodic
Steve Huffman ----------- Current Design Oracle GTS
Jack Perdue -------------- Current Design Solstice Titan HV
Dan Makley --------------- Current Design Squall
Dan Makley, Jr ----------- QCC 500
Mike Qualls --------------- Necky Looksha IV
Andy Mitchell -------------- Warren Little Wing 15.5

Greg Bailey
FSKA - February 2011

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Location Data:

Distance (miles): 48
Fees/Costs $: none

Post Date: 3/23/2011

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