Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Everglades - alligators, bikes, and boats

So there I was...
Every trip seems to come to fruition while randomly talking in the kitchen or sitting around killing time. At least the most memorable ones. That is a good description on how this trip came to exist. It was a really simple and fluid transition from "that would be cool" to "how can this be more......awesome?" Those trips where you look on satellite images to find a route or set unrealistic goals and hope all goes as planned.
So there I was sitting in the kitchen with my friend, Joey, talking about trips that could be done over the holidays. Usually I would be skiing this time of year, but did not have that option this year. In the process of thinking about things to do, the Everglades came up. Not having been down there and being on my bucket list of places to go, it was settled. A visit to the Everglades would be in a couple of months. At some point in the conversation, or another conversation, the discussion turned from a simple kayaking trip to self supported round trip of the everglades. Remember, how can this be more...awesome? Well there it is. The trip was no longer a simple trip to the north end of the everglades to kayak for a few days. This just turned into something a little bit harder and abnormal.
Lets me be honest, I have not done a ton of sea kayaking. Sometimes it is not about having a ton of experience. Most of the time it falls on being able to make decisions, navigate, plan, and in general be able to suffer. Not having an in-depth background in sea kayaking did not worry me, I have had plenty of experience on the water rafting and paddling on rivers, the logistical nightmare was more worrying.
You might be wondering how this was going to be a self supported round trip of the everglades? Typically you would pay a shuttle to get from one end of the everglades to the other. I decided to take this out and bike the 130 miles instead.
Planning for this trip was pretty easy. Downloaded the topo and marine maps for the area and began to pinpoint a general path. The hard part? In the Everglades you can only get permits for campsites 24 hours before you take off. So the planned route is basically a dream route with a couple fall back plans for the inevitable full campsite. A basic rundown on the planned trip goes something like this:
Day 1: Drive to Everglades city - drop boat and gear. Drive to Flamingo Bay Visitor Center
Day 2: Leave car at Flamingo, get camping permits, begin bike to Everglades City.
Day 3: Begin paddle from Everglades City to camp 1
Day4: Camp 1 to camp 2
Day 5: Camp 2 to camp 3
Day 6: Camp 3 to camp 4
Day 7: Camp 4 to Flamingo Bay Visitor Center, drive to Everglades City, and then home
Simple right?! Nothing too complex. Yes, this was a logistical nightmare. Simple in design but complicated in execution. The biking portion was long but would not be too hard due to the nearly 0 feet of elevation gain. Paddling was planned as somewhere around 75 miles. Being a solo trip, there is nothing to do each day besides getting from point A to point B.
Let the adventures begin!