Visiting the Everglades has been a travel goal for some time. Despite setting a goal to make it there, we had somehow managed to not spend much time researching our options.
We planned to spend a few days there in our usual slow travel style. Our early research indicated that we should get good verizon service at the Flamingo campground, and that would provide the needed opportunity to work.
Upon arrival I set about trying to configure my assortment of antennas and booster technology to secure the expected signal. Try as I might, I could not manage any usable signal. A few tests from the truck (also outfitted with a booster) in sections of the Flamingo area also failed to find a usable signal.
Without good signal, our visit was going to be much shorter. Our real goal of the visit was to get out and experience the everglades from a boat. There were boat tours available, but what really interested us was a canoe rental. Rentals were available right there in the marina, but also at a lake back up the road called Nine Mile Pond. This pond contained a canoe trail marked by poles along the way, and promised paddling through mangrove forests as well as the open glade.
We picked this option, and set about making it happen. We ended up renting two canoes from the concessionaire near the Flamingo Visitor Center. Unfortunately, a large group beat us to the rentals already located at the pond, so we paid an extra $45 to have two canoes transported up there. Frustrating, but worth it.
We arrived at the pond with life jackets and paddles, and retrieved the canoes from the concessionaire. In just a minute we were in the water, paddling across a small lake to the start of the trail.
As we followed the trail out of the lake, we immediately plunged into the mangroves. We became immediately grateful for two things. First, the trail markers. All long the canoe trail were poles stuck in the ground. Each marker bore a number which could help us choose the right direction as we paddled. Without those markers, it would have been impossible to find our way through (or out!) of those mangrove forests.
Padding through mangroves is beautiful, but the paddling trail was often narrow and often turned quite sharply. Thus, the second thing we became grateful for: mangrove roots. The roots of the mangrove trees grow out from the trunk of the tree above the waterline, and grow outward before plunging down into the water. The result of this root growth pattern is a natural ‘bumper’ of sorts that made paddling a little easier. When we missed a turn or edged too close to the trees, the natural edge created by the roots prevented us from paddling too far under the trees.
The mangrove forest eventually broke apart, and we found ourselves in more open sections of the glade. Glades are sunny, open areas in a forest. The Everglades are named for this, with plenty of open glade areas that stretch far into the distance. At the midpoint of our paddle, we came into a large glade that was a wonderful cross between a meadow and a lake. The area was covered with water shallow enough to allow grasses to grow. From near the waterline, it looked as though the meadow was grassy and solid enough to walk across it. Instead, we got to paddle through it.
The meadow contained a shortcut that allowed us to cut our paddle in half. We took the shortcut and had a snack, and then headed continued along the trail back to the truck.
It is hard to describe just how beautiful and unique this adventure was. At times like this, I’m really grateful that Jess captures so many wonderful scenes during our adventures. As you consider my description and compare it with her pictures, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I’m reasonably good paddling a canoe, but Jess struggles when conditions are difficult. On the second half of our paddle, She really hit her stride, and was navigating through the mangroves like a pro. I even had the chance to teach a few new paddling strokes to Rachel, who was in the front of my boat. Cara sat in the middle between Rachel and I, and took turns paddling in the more open spots.
The shortcut made our paddle the perfect length at just under two hours. With that adventure completed, we headed back to pick up the Airstream and head back into the land of signal. I look forward to a time where better timing (and/or better signal) allow us to visit the Everglades longer. Despite our short visit, I cherish the adventure we had.