Posts Tagged ‘kayak expeditions’

Hello All, This is the long anticipated 2nd post in the Tribal Tides series. In this post I will discuss the actual route and “natural schedule” that Jeff & myself shall be attempting to paddle during our 2 weeks on the water. Why we chose the direction we are headed in on the route & possible opportunities that are arising.

The schedule as it sits right now of course is subject to change at any given moment depending on weather conditions, paddler safety/health issues, and available lodging/safe places to camp. At this time we are choosing to take full advantage of any local Bed & Breakfasts, inns, and local campgrounds (public or private) along the way; as well as some primitive beach/mangrove camping as available. Jeff & I have chosen not to go totally primitive every night for camping simply because the Great Calusa Blueway, along with Lee County Parks and Recreation & the Florida Paddling Trails Association have made it so easy for anyone to do all or some of the segments of the paddling trail. They have very detailed websites & links that get paddlers/mariners to safe and secure places to bed down for the night.

Also in the works is the possibility of doing an informative/teaching speaking session at the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival  November third through the sixth.  And hopefully the chance to write some reviews about the local lodging & amenities, history of the area, fishing, cooking, and gear as we promote the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail!!

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Jeff & I will launch the expedition on Monday September 19th at the Caloosahatchee Regional Park; near the town of Alva. We will then head down river to Hickey Creek and do some exploring up the creek for 4-5 miles. Paddling back down the creek and headed down river for Telegraph Creek, up & back. Some may know that the Orange River is also here but Jeff and I have done this river many times before when we were guiding trips so we are skipping it. We will then be heading down river to camp and on Day 2 to begin exploring the remainder of the river and a few more of its tributaries. Eventually leaving the mouth of the river and primitive camping on Picnic Island.

Day 3 will find us heading north for Matlacha and threw the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. Lodging may be there for the night. We will then be paddling out again up the mangrove lined coast on Day 4 headed towards the most northern point of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail and Charlotte Harbour Preserve State Park for some exploring and then across 4-5 miles of open water to Bokeelia/Jugg Creek/Back Bay areas to bed down.

Day 5 we are headed from Bokeelia over to Cayo Costa Island, a crossing of about 8 miles. We will be primitive camping/exploring on the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico for a day or two if time /weather allow. On Day 6 or 7, Jeff & I will be heading south down the outer islands of North Captiva, Captiva and Sanibel Island and threw the Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve towards J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Possible stay on Sanibel or primitive camping on a spoil island in Pine Island Sound. We will be doing some exploring of the wildlife refuge then crossing along Sanibel Causeway and threw Matanzas Pass to San Marcos Island for a possible nights stay.

Day 8 or 9 will find us headed threw Hurricane Bay towards Hell Peckney Bay and into the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve; then across to the Estero River mouth and upriver to Koreshan State Historic Site & Park. Jeff and I will be staying a night or two at Koreshan, primitive camping and exploring Mound Key– site of the capitol city of the once great Calusa Indian Nation!!!

From there it is on Day 11 or 12 that we will head to Lovers Key and Big Hickory Island for a possible nights stay on one of either of the islands. Then on Day 13 we will start to make our way threw the Imperial River Preserve towards our final destination which will bring us up the Imperial River, possibly camping again somewhere along the river. Day 14 which will see us paddling to the Imperial River Boat ramp on U.S. 41 to end our paddling expedition and meet our shuttle vehicle to pick-up our boats and gear and whisk us home to our families & friends!!!!

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If one were to look at the segments of the paddling trail you would see we chose to do section 3 which is also the unmarked section first, then section 2 and finishing on section 1. Yes, Jeff and Sean can count and we do know 1 comes before 2 and 3. If you look carefully though there just seems to be a “Natural Flow” to the direction we chose, not to mention logistically being able to complete the most of the trail without having to double back much on anything to get the most out of the paddle/trail itself. Also lets not forget its “OUR” trip and WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT as most people with teenagers will tell you. (That is my 16 year old sons favorite saying- “I do what I want!” – or so HE thinks!)
Also it is possible that Russell Farrow owner of Sweetwater Kayaks and one of the nations best paddlers and kayaking coaches will be joining & paddling with us for a few days!!(also our boss if you want to call him that- we just call him friend!) Well we hope everyone enjoys the most recent post and the third post in the series will be out in 3 weeks Tribal Tides 3: “Native Gear, well not quite”

– Jeff & Sean

Raatatatat-Rata-Tatat-Ratatat-Ratatatat-Tatatatat-Ratatatat-Tatatatat-Tatatatatat- (drum roll) – Jeff & Sean are proud to announce an upcoming 2 week paddling expedition to the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail in Lee County, Florida. The trail consists of 190 miles of marked and unmarked canoe/kayak trails located in semi-tropical southwest Florida along the Gulf Coast. Our trip will take us through inland freshwater tributaries, moving down river to a brackish water tidal zone, then out through salt marshes and along mangrove forest lined coasts, on to a fishing village/major watercraft pass. Out to open saltwater and some offshore islands. Along the way we will go through a state aquatic marine preserve, a couple state parks, a national wildlife refuge, a state park preserve, and a few county and regional parks. Then back into fresh water and up a different river to our ending takeout spot.

The trip will take place in September 2011 from the 19th through the 30th, with Oct 1 & 2 as extra paddling/weather days if needed. We will be doing an upcoming series of posts about the expedition and hope our readers will stay tuned as things fall into place and the paddling begins. We have waited on releasing this news due to the fact that there are some really cool things happening behind the scenes: 1. Such as we might have a very well respected paddler & coach possibly joining us for some of the paddle! 2. We might get to tie this into something much bigger- i.e. a teaching opportunity! 3. There just might be a “GOOD” story to come out of all this & MORE!!  DEFINITELY CHECK BACK SOON- for further developments!!!!!!!!!!

Jeff & I will release the first post in the series: Tribal Tides- “Whats a Calusa?” on Wednesday 06/22/11. This post will discuss what and who the Calusa were & why Jeff & I feel so passionate about paddling in their waters. Oh, and how we came to choosing this as our next long distance paddling expedition.

For a little teaser of what the series will cover please check out the previous expedition series: Expedition Planning- there should be 6 posts about the Suwannee River Expedition we did Christmas time of 2009.  Just check under Expeditions or Suwannee River in the side bar categories on the right!

Thanks for reading and following along,

Jeff & Sean

After a long week at work (>## hours) due to my involvement with our Environmental Film Festival, I looked forward to hanging out, coaching, and paddling.

Saturday the Symposium at Sweetwater Kayaks was rocking with so many new faces meandering around taking classes.

My roll and pleasure at the symposium was to co coach with Sean on Kayak camping/cooking.  We worked it in a “round-robin” style.  We began with showing a bivy sack, then hammock, to a small tent that needed to be staked, then transitioning to my favorite free standing tent (Mountain Hardware’s Skylight tent).  As one of us talked the other would pack the previously mentioned shelter and its coordinating sleeping bag and pad into a NDK Explorer.

We illustrated different types of camp lights, and cooked on several types of stoves.  Everyone also enjoyed eating our dishes.  And all of that even went into the kayak.  The guests were amazed at the ease to packing a kayak.  And I was amazed that the racks we used to support the kayak held up to the weight of all of the gear!

Sunday I co coached with Greg Stamer.  In the morning we did Greenland Open Water.  Greg asked me to do a put-across-bow-pry maneuver.  I have done it many times in my Chatham 17 and Russell’s Greenlander Pro to quickly turn the kayak up into the wind.  However, I was paddling a NDK Explorer for the first time.  I was a too aggressive with the paddle placement and flipped. LOL.  The water was refreshing and I rolled up on the opposite side of the kayak.

In the afternoon I taught bank-base Greenland rolling to two paddlers; whereas, Greg taught deep water Greenland rolling.  The two students I had never rolled with a Greenland paddle.  I have a few tricks in helping students and they both ended the class with a roll.

As the day concluded I was given the opportunity to paddle a canoe down the Suwannee River.  I have enjoyed the Suwannee every time I have hiked along its banks or paddled it.  So after negotiating a deal with my wife I joined the coaches and students for some 3 and 4 star canoe training.

Monday afternoon we drove to Stephen Foster State Park.  The traffic was thick and had a mind of its own.  At times I thought these metal beasts that clogged the asphalt river did not want to release its captive prey to enjoy the splendors of the river that we so desperately were trying to get to.

We finally arrived just before sunset and I then discovered how nice cabin # 4 was.  The cabin has a large screened in porch, rocking chairs, tables, a complete kitchen, and fire place.  We ate and sang, it was better than a night on the town.  We had two guitar players with us Russell Farrow and Nigel Foster.  Phil Hadley also graced us with song.

Tuesday after breakfast we explored Stephen Foster State Park, drove up to see Big Shoals, and then dropped off the automobiles at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (our take out point).

The rapids at Big Shoals were not dramatic. I saw a gopher tortoise burrow.  But that was not the biggest discovery of an endangered species.  We discovered a Skunk Ape. And he was happy to pose with Chad and me.  Usually Florida Skunk Apes are shy and elusive but he liked people who canoe on his river.  He was especially fond of one of our members.  We all had a good laugh when they exchanged hugs.

It was midday when we started to paddle from Stephen Foster to Woods Ferry River Camp.  It is a short paddle of 9 miles downriver to Woods Ferry.  With current I figured it would only be a two and a half to three hour trip.  I was wrong.  It was a leisurely five hour journey. We all played with edging, tested the efficiency of blending strokes, and tried each other’s canoes and paddles.  We had lunch on the river about 90 minutes into the trip.  I was originally concerned with paddling in a kneeling position; but, I was not experiencing numbness in my feet, knees, or low back.  It was almost five o’clock when we paddled through some rapids and arrived at Woods Ferry River Camp.

For dinner we ate STEAK! I have never eaten steak for dinner during a kayak trip.  We ate very well that night.  And were well hydrated.  There is an advantage to having all that storage in a paddle craft.  Yum – big boat, big tasty meal.

Then we gathered around a fire pit in front of a chickie (screened sleeping platform with electricity and ceiling fan).  Nigel has a great voice and knows some fun songs.  Phil was rocking.  And Russell played ‘until his fingers bled’. Who needs electric entertainment when you have an opportunity to paddle with cool people?

I slept well after my first day of paddling a canoe.

Wednesday after eating and breaking camp we paddled up river to refine some skills in the rapids.  Phil Hadley and Jen Kleck are excellent coaches.  We worked on moving the canoe up river, recovering in eddies, and what to do in the event of a capsize.

Standing up in a canoe and polling it up river was similar to my experience to punting on the river Cam along the banks of Cambridge University.  Well, not really.  The only thing similar was to remember to yank on the punt/poll if it got stuck and I had to remember not to lock my knees.  We also used the painters on the canoe to ferry it up through the rapids.  Then we practiced paddling up and spinning the canoe in the rapids.  I would like to say I was smooth like icing a cake.  But I now know what I need to do to improve.  We also had one volunteer to capsize a few times.  This gave us all the opportunity to safely practice some rescues.

After class we paddled to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.  It was nice to get out of the canoe.  Kneeling for two days had started to feel more like penance than pleasure.

We collected our kits and headed to Paynes Prairie State Preserve.  We stayed at the campground for the evening and then drove to canoe up Silver River.  Sean and I have kayaked Silver so many times I think I could navigate it without a headlamp on a star free night.

My friends had never been on this river and the local wild life made it a wild morning.  And I will share all about it in a future post.

– Jeff

“Deep thoughts”…

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I kayak to reconnect with what I lose by being apart of the rat race.  Work dulls my senses.  I quickly travel isolated in a “box” to work.  I work in a different box.  I exist at work by seconds marked out on a clock.  To paddle is to leave the rat race, my car, my cubical at work, and my watch at home.  I am always amazed by some of the professional paddlers I have met and read about that actually turn an expedition into a rat race.  Paddling is all about reconnecting to nature.  And my wife always remarks at how relaxed I am when I get home.

(Guys…there are logical steps to keeping your wife happy and supportive of your adventures…I will elaborate on the things I have learned from wiser men in a future post)

This paddle for me is about reveling in the interesting landscapes along the historical Suwannee River.  I will be exploring every nook and cranny with the eyes of a toddler.  Sean and I are not planning on traveling fast.  Nor will we have a moment of boredom. To paraphrase “Forrest Gump” (1994) “when we get tired, we’ ll sleep, when we get hungry, we’ ll eat,  [when the water beckons] we’ ll go.”  We will be like the feather dancing with the wind.

forrest-gump-feather

Maybe I am odd in thinking like a “Soul Surfer” that riding the water is a gift that we are lucky to catch at that moment in time. But I am not alone in thinking that.  I have had the pleasure of meeting some professional paddlers that agree that “riding the water is a gift that we are lucky to catch at that moment in time”.  Moreover, they acknowledge how lucky they are to be able to make a modest living being a professional paddler.  It is easy to get into the trap of making a past-time into a rat race of a job.

I feel sorry for those people who turn paddling into a fast pace job.  And need a vacation to relax after they have finished paddling.

Thinking deeply – Jeff

kayak deep thoughts