Sunday, November 20th
USA Expedition Blog: Everglades kayak Graveyard Greek to Mormon Key
by Rick Kotze
We woke up this morning and set straight into our morning routine of cooking breakfast, cleaning up the campsite and getting ready for the days paddle. Mike informed us that today would be especially strenuous to ensure that no future setbacks would result in an inability to reach our final destination on time. Personally I was not very happy to hear this, because I had had a really bad night’s sleep, and my back was still aching from yesterday’s long paddle. Luckily, my negative feelings dissolved as we set out into the beautiful wilderness and I fell back into the now familiar trance-like state of paddling. Stroke, after stroke, after stroke.
Our first stop came after two and a half hours of intense paddling. We had already covered nine miles and it was only half past ten in the morning. After exchanging snacks from our day packs and stretching our back and legs, we got into our kayaks and headed for New Turkey Key.
New Turkey Key is a postcard-perfect white-sand island covered in beautiful shells of all shapes and sizes. We made the most of this mosquito-free paradise and had a well-deserved rest. The girls collected and compared shells while the guys were more interested in a washed up alligator skeleton.
We were within an hour’s paddle of our campsite for the evening and as we left we had our first encounter with two other kayakers. This made us realize just how quiet the past few days had been. We discussed how sad it was that so few people made the effort to explore the beautiful public wilderness that we had been so privileged to have the opportunity to survey over the past few days.
The camp site for the night was a long thin stretch of sand so we made two fires – one at each end – to keep the mosquitos at bay. Mike celebrated our days triumph by cooking potato soup, mixed vegetables, scrambled eggs and chocolate mousse (all powdered Trek’n Eat packets, of course). This feast was enjoyed by all the young explorers as well as a few of the Florida Keys many island raccoons that helped themselves to our leftovers any time we turned our backs.
This night wound-down around the fire sharing stories of the past few days. One of the favorite conversations was discussing all the thoughts and musings that jogged through our minds while we were in our trance-like state of paddling for hours on end. Some of us thought of food, friends and family whilst others confessed to having ridiculous songs playing on repeat in their minds (Row Row Row Your Boat seemed to be a common occurrence). Others yet, confessed to practicing their times tables to get their minds off of the aches and pains caused by the unfamiliar exercise.
After our fire-side story-telling, we crawled into our tents ready to wake up early for our final paddle, and fell asleep to the sound of the waves breaking less than five meters away from our feet.
Distance traveled Sunday: 25 miles
Total distance traveled so far (4 1/2 day total): 95.5 miles