It is a cloudy January morning when Bill Belleville and I launch our canoe at the Turner River. Rain seems almost certain, so our foul weather gear is at hand.
My canoe is so packed it looks like a supply barge, which in a sense it is. We must carry enough provisions for nine days even though we plan to be on the water only eight.
Following the recommendation that we carry at least a gallon of water per person per day, the 20 gallons of liquid (which weighs eight pounds a gallon) by itself is equal to the weight of a third passenger.
sit in the bow with my camera can sandwiched between
my legs, a location it will retain throughout the journey so the cameras
will be in easy reach.
Although we won't face any rapids anywhere, we could encounter a version of white water in the form of tall whitecaps in the wide shallow bays we must occasionally cross.
More than anything, wind determines how well we will fare, whether we will be able to keep to schedule, become delayed or get swamped.
Regardless of where we wander during the day, we must rejoin the Wilderness trail each night so we will have a dry place to land.
Because the Everglades is made up primarily of water and almost no land, we must reach a specific, pre-planned campsite at the day's end or spend the night sleeping in our canoe, not an easy thing when it's filled with so many water jugs, tents and other gear.
Waterway campsites are so scarce and so small every canoe party must register in advance with the Ranger Station and file an itinerary to make sure the campsites don't become overcrowded.
The land camp sites consist mostly of small Indian mounds. They are supplemented by chickees, wooden platforms over water with the added convenience of a roof. Chickees are named after the dwellings used by the Seminole Indians, the first Glades inhabitants.
Park personnel do not patrol the campsites to make sure everyone is on schedule but start searching only when someone is overdue.
If severe winds prevent canoes from crossing any of the wide shallow bays, a campsite can get heavily overpopulated as canoes backlog. Many times we hear stories of stranded canoeists having to sleep on the roof of crowded chickees.
To Part 3
Return to Part 1
Return to Canoeing Homepage