On March 18th, eight students, two instructors, and one writer-in-residence boarded the Voyageur bus and made their way to Everglades National Park for an 8 day expedition through one of the most unique ecosystems in the world!
The drive down featured the culinary delights of Cookout and Popeye’s along with the always exciting camp-out in a Wal-Mart parking lot. However, upon our arrival in Everglades City, we immediately transitioned to backcountry mode. The first morning was spent planning our final route, getting our permits at the ranger station, and then packing our boats for backcountry adventure. That afternoon, hopped in our kayaks and canoe and headed out to our first campsite at Tiger Key.
Having taken one final check of the weather, we knew a front was moving toward us from the southwest, so we took a relatively direct approach to Tiger Key and made great time. We reached our site well before dark (and the rain), and enjoyed some of the best backcountry pizza we’ve ever made!
The following morning came with strong winds and a small craft advisory. Knowing this would be the case, we made plans to spend the day at Tiger Key, exploring the beaches and looking for shells of all kinds. Along the way we spotted nesting Osprey, horseshoe crabs, raccoon, a few 9-armed starfish, and more shells than can be described. A quick fly-fishing lesson and some games, and the group settled in for the night.
The next 3 days brought plenty of paddling, gourmet food, wildlife sightings, and the occasional swarm of mosquitos! We camped on Rabbit Key, Watson Key, Lopez River, and finally paddled out through Chokoloskee with several dolphins leading the way!
All told, it was an amazing trip! To see some of the highlights, check out the pictures here!