Everglades USA Exped – Day 5

Thursday, November 17th
USA Expedition blog: Everglades Kayak North Nest Key to Flamingo
by Ann-Kathrin

After the short glimpse we had yesterday afternoon at the extent of the kayak expedition awaiting us over the next six days, today marked our first complete day on the water.

The night was long and tight in a tent with the four of us girls– Aya, Theresa, Jule and I. We woke up when the sun rose and ate a nice breakfast of oats with brown sugar, then packed our equipment to leave the camp site as early as possible to get in the kayaks and begin the trip. We were all very keen on seeing the beautiful nature in store for us, although the sleep schedule is a bit difficult to get used to!

As soon as all the boats were packed we kayaked out into the endless blue of the shallow open water and the surrounding mangrove forests. The destination for the day had the pretty name – “Flamingo”.

We were amazed by all the untouched, pure nature we paddled by. About every two hours we had a little rest for our arms and to get used to the rhythm of moving all day long. We learned how to “raft-up” all the kayaks when we want to take a break and how to store them properly if we wanted to have a break on a small beach of a lonely island. Everyone was excited to see and to experience what the calm and peaceful surroundings of the Everglades National Park – the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.

After the first hours of paddling we realized how hard the next days were going to be. On two tall wooden platforms in the middle of a large inlet we had a longer break, we ate our daypacks, which we were really happy about, and had a rest which we all enjoyed after a hard paddle. We carried on and came upon our first experience with the diverse Everglades wildlife. As we kayaked through deeper waters we saw a shark passing right along side us! The sharks chase the mullet fish that we see jumping high out of the water around us at all times. It was a really moving moment with the shark to understand that the natural animals have no intention to hurt us, they just carry on with their routines and we are able to see how peaceful the life between animals and humans can be.

Later on, without resting we got into a difficult situation where we had to paddle through water that was less than one meter deep. It was more of a swampy seagrass field. We had a hard time getting through the deep, thick mud and after we did we were exhausted but also happy to see that it was only a small distance to our next campsite.

We reached Flamingo beneath a beautiful sunset and the funny jumping mullet fish around us. We were very happy to get out of the water and there was even a fresh water hose on the boat landing ramp — a real luxury!! — to be able to wash the salt off our bodies. We fired up a bit of nice warm Trek 'n Eat dinner.  After that, we all changed clothes and had our first battle with the thousands of hungry mosquitos that thrive in the hot and humid conditions of Florida’s swamplands. Everyone was more then happy to slip into the tents and to sleep after a very long first day of kayaking across Everglades National Park.

Wednesday: Key Largo through Buttonwood Sound to North Nest Key – 7 miles
Thursday: North Nest Key to Big Key, Mosquito Point, Shark Point Chickee to Flamingo – 26 mi
TOTAL: 1 ½ day total distance travelled —  33 miles(53 km)

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