The Everglades is a neat place! I’m sure that my enjoyment of it is greatly enhanced by the fact that it’s been cloudy, breezy and cool and the mosquitoes, while plentiful, are less than in other seasons. There are tons of animals, interesting birds and the geography is totally unlike other places I’ve been!
Our first item on the agenda today was to visit the Flamingo Visitor Center and ask the Rangers a million questions about kayaking, rentals, biking, etc. We determined that we’d like to go boating today and that my inflatable kayak was simply not appropriate for the Everglades. First, there’s the obvious concern – alligators. You don’t want an alligator chomping down on your inflatable kayak (yes, it happened and it made the news, the gal had to hang into the mangroves, there is no dry land anywhere around here, with an angry alligator at her feet, luckily the gal’s cell phone worked and she called for help.). The other issues that I hadn’t considered were wind & tides.
We were able to rent a canoe and canoe the Nine Mile Pond Canoe trail. It’s called Nine Mile Pond because it’s nine miles from Coot Bay to the pond and the ranger station was was at Coot Bay. The canoe trail is 5 miles long and starts in the lake and then goes through the swamp, marked by PVC pipes that stick up and are numbered. If it weren’t for those markers you’d never make it out of the swamp, it all looks the same. There was promise of seeing alligators, crocodiles, and plenty of birds!
There is very little dry land out there – lots and lots of water! In places it looks like there is dry land, but it’s just an illusion – there’s spongy stuff on the top that makes it look solid. Some parts of the trail were grassy and open, others were tight with mangroves. A kayak would be a much better vessel for this type of trip – the canoe was not very maneuverable!
Nine Mile Pond – where we launched the canoe. The canoe trail starts all the way at the other end of the pond – you have to go against the wind! I was quite glad I wasn’t in the Sea Eagle, which is basically a giant balloon!
The stuff floating on the surface near the tip of the canoe is spongy stuff that gives the illusion of solid ground when you look at it.
We did not see much of the promised wildlife. We saw one Great Blue Heron, a Little Blue Heron, and the top of an alligator. We never would have seen the gator if it wasn’t for someone coming from the other direction pointing it out. I saw the top of his head before he sunk to the bottom. The other guy told us not to paddle over the gator, but Dad couldn’t see where it had been and it made me wonder how many alligators we paddled over and hadn’t realized!
After we made it back to Nine Mile Pond and put the canoe away we headed back to the campground and stopped at West Lake. There was a canoe trail there too, as well as a 1/2 mile boardwalk. Dad and I walked the boardwalk which went through a dry mangrove hammock and went out over the lake. West Lake is a big lake!
After we returned the canoe paddles and the key to unlock it and got back to the campground we got on our bikes and rode back to Mrazek Pond to see what animals were out at sunset. We saw a Roseate Spoonbill! They are pretty cool! There were also a ton of ducks, a couple anhingas, and some other birds. Soon it was dark and we were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes so we put the bikes on the car (Mom had driven from the campground so we could ride back) and headed back for dinner.
Tomorrow Dad and I are going to do a bike ride in the morning and then we will drive to Midway campground in Big Cypress National Preserve so we can go to Shark Valley on Monday.