I have been to the Everglades several times before and documented the trips on this site. While visiting friends in Ft. Lauderdale I had a few days to spend paddling in the Everglades. I decided to head down to Flamingo and paddle around Cape Sable for several days. On the way I would paddle an area I hadn't done before, the intricate channels of Hell's Bay. I left early and got around the Miami metroplex before the traffic got heavy. I entered the park early in the morning as the sun was just getting up in a heavy fog.
I stopped at the little launch site about half way between the entrance and Flamingo. It is just past the West Lake launch site. I set the kayak on the side of the small wood deck next to a pool not much longer or wider than the kayak itself. The mosquitos were bad here so I quickly got into the kayak and started down the narrow mangrove trail. The start of the trail is quite clear with narrow channel that is impossible to mistake. When it widens a bit the trail is marked by white plastic pipes marking the correct turns at each questionable point. The trail widens gradually, passing by Lard Can, a ground site camping site to be avoided unless you like mosquitos. A couple of miles further brings you to the double chickee with a unique handicap canoe dock at the wider end of Pearl Bay. I talked briefly with the three guys on the site, then turned back to paddle to the car.
Here is a video of my paddle to Pearl Bay chickee and back.
I loaded up and headed down to the launch at Flamingo. After getting my back country permit, $10.00 a night, a paddled out of tje channel and headed west to East Cape. I was headed out on a familiar path that I gave done several times before and written up in other reports so I will be brief here, just showing the more interesting photos.
East Cape is about 5 miles from Flamingo and is a good choice if you leave Flamingo past noon. Not the nicest of the Cape Sable beaches, it faces south so it gets favorable bug reducing breezes when the usual southeast breeze is blowing which it was.
The next day I paddled up to Middle Cape and then Northeast Cape to my next campsite. Pelicans were diving for bait fish in the shallow near beach waters. One would think they would break their necks more frequently. The beaches were covered with Portuguese Man of War, their purple sails furled and their floats turning brittle and dull in the hot sun.
The next day I made it to South Joe River chickee. The ladder on the double chickee was covered in sharp oyster shells which made an impression on the side of my kayak. The afternoon went smoothly except my hat blew over. I decided to risk swimming for it. No alligators had seen all day but I swam quietly with a minimum of splash anyway.
The final day was overcast and windy, once again, as I battled back across Whitewater Bay to the start of the canal to Flamingo. I took out at the launch ramp on the other side of the lock.