Pat Welsh: Traffic, telephone, television and twitter: Gone
Traffic, tourists, telephones, twitter, televison; I am caught up in all of it.
When I was a single guy, I would kayak the Everglades for an un bathed week at a time to really relax. I’d sleep on raised chickees to avoid the alligators and snakes and wake up to bright orange sunrises.
That changed after I got married and became a dad. Now I recapture the peace on day trips. Showers, by the way, have become crucial.
When I paddle the clear, flat water through the tunnels formed by mangroves, I feel stress dissipate. No cellphone towers are in the Everglades!
The Everglades are full of small isolated beaches. It’s the place where you can be at one with alligators, dolphins, manatees and literally hundreds of species of fish.
This is my best place to figure out personal issues. The blue herons, American egrets, bald eagles and ospreys are terrific listeners.
Traffic roar is traded for the trickle of the kayak paddle pushing the water. Sometimes the water is so still that I cannot tell where the sky ends and the water begins.
To get the most out of going, careful preparation is key. I could start out with a nice tail wind which suddenly shifts and tosses me struggling in a headwind. Extra food, extra gear, extra water might all get used. Then there is the possibility of a deluge of bugs. I have to cover myself from the sun, the bugs and the possibility of getting wet. The prep work is always worth it because I come home like a brand new person.
I created an instructional video called “99” that takes viewers along on one of my trips. I explain what you need to know about kayaking and what it is like in the Everglades. I have done the eight-day, 99 mile Wilderness Waterway Trail that cuts from Flamingo to Chokoloskee in the 10,000 Islands area.
This kayak trail is for experienced kayakers only who know how to read a map, use a GPS and have the physical stamina to endure a gusty wind or two. It can be confusing and difficult to navigate through the mazes of mangrove-lined creeks and bays because they all begin to look the same.
My advice if you want to plan a day trip or longer is to consult nautical charts and the park’s Wilderness Trip Planner. A great day trip is the Turner River.