FL - Everglades Wilderness Waterway Day 7 - Rodger's River Chickee to Highland Beach - 16.4 miles



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The Nightmare, a narrow channel through the mangroves filled with roots and mosquitos, proves to be too tough. We bail out about half way trough and head out to Highland Beach.




by Julio Perez and Hank McComas

The natural question that comes up is, “Why return to the shore only to turn back to the interior on the following day?” The answer is: Harney Creek Chickee is closed for repairs. This pivotal site in any extended journey in the interior was out of service so the best alternative that would allow us to end up in the far interior of the everglades was to return to the beach. This plan was challenging because it made our 7th day between 21 and 27 miles with very challenging navigation in the narrow channels of the eastern section of the park.




The days travel took us down the scenic Broad river. This narrow stream with many long curves gave us opportunity to browse the mangroves more closely. We saw many more epiphytes and bromeliads than we had seen near the coast, larger healthier mangroves and roosting sites for Ibises and Herons. We saw a couple of alligators cruising along too!




The adventure for today was ‘The Nightmare”. This section of the wilderness waterway is complete with warnings that it will be impassable except at higher tide levels. We traveled about three miles of the trail before we were stopped by deadfall and no alternative route. The mosquitoes had a supersized meal before we located the route toward the coast.

Tarpon seen here
Tarpon seen here
Photo by Julio Perez



The stream that lead us to coast was amazing; narrow, winding and full of wildlife. There were gators, birds and the fish were huge. We followed a half dozen Tarpon down the stream while they seemed to play; breaking water in front of our boats every ten feet. One swam by Hanks boat, rolled on its side and I think it winked at him. He named him Moby. They accompanied us all the way to the shore where we turned north for our second visit to Highland Beach.
Approaching the beach on this day was slower because the tide was lower and the wind was from SE, yet we arrived with enough time to prepare a comfortable camp complete with smoky fires to discourage the mosquitoes.




The tide was indeed lower than the last time we were here. there was a large band of exposed mud along the shore. We needed to paddle past our intended camp site to reach a spot where the water at least wetted the solid light brown sand. Even so we grounded short of the beach. While lifting my boat from the mud to put it up on the sand, I lost my footing when I was unable to pick my foot up out of the sticky mud. The wait of the laden kayak just pushed me over and i fell into the stinking muck. With no deep water anywhere, I just washed off as best as I could with a kerchief. The threatening rain never materialized so I went to bed a little gritty.

I must admit that eating well for 6 days got the better of me, because I started to think that I could find a way to make anything taste OK. Well I was wrong! Hank had the good judgement to refuse to try some of my inventions. He said he could tell from the look on my face.




We built and uncharacteristically large fire below the high water mark on the beach and covered the blaze with damp seaweed. This sent up a torrent of smoke that did a good job in suppressing the mosquitos. We built a smaller one on the other side of the tent as the wind kept changing directions as a dark cloud passed overhead.
 We were up late that night and out late the next morning. Two does watched curiuosly as we emerged from our tents. Unfortunately, they were not the only ones waiting for us.

On to Day 8....


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