Saturday, December 25, 2010

Low water on Tims Ford

Tims Ford Reservoir near Winchester, Tennessee is where I do much of my exercise paddling.  They lower the lake in the winter in order to catch the winter rains.  The islands look like they have Marine haircuts!  The lake is full of loons and grebes and ducks this time of year, and I saw a bald eagle the other day.

The island at the left looks like it has a Marine haircut.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tracks of the Wilderness Waterway from Google Earth

John Benson, Will Watson, Eric Keen, and I paddled the Wilderness Waterway through Everglades National Park in early December

Click on images for a larger view

Day 1 from Chokoloskee Island to Sweetwater Chickee

It was dead low spring tide at 7:30 AM, so we took it easy, eating breakfast at the Cuban restaurant in town, then launching from the Parkway Motel and Marina at about 9:30.  We lowered the boats into the water at the marina, then paddled around to the Smallwood Store museum to load equipment.  The wind was in our faces, but the tide was in our favor, and we only had 16 miles to go to Sweetwater Chickee.

John in the Kruger Sea Wind

Eric in the open canoe

The welcoming committee (=resident alligator) at Sweetwater

arrival at Sweetwater Chickee

Day 2 - Sweetwater Chickee to Rogers River Bay Chickee

This was the longest day, and the wind seemed to conspire to be against us no matter which way we went.  We got to Rogers River Bay Chickee just at nightfall.

Dead manatee at the NW entrance to Alligator Creek

John and Will at a rest stop with me in the background

Lunch at Plate Creek Chickee

John meets an alligator

Another rest stop.  Maybe that's why it took so long!

John says hello to another alligator.

Nightfall at Rogers River Bay Chickee

Day 3 - Rogers River Bay Chickee through the Nightmare and Broad Creek to the Harney Chickee

Broad River Bay and Broad River presented us with more contrary wind and tide.  We had lunch at the Broad River campsite (where we met some Dutch folks on winter break), then escaped into the Nightmare.  The only plus to this wide open river was our only encounter with crocodiles.

The Nightmare was the most beautiful park of the trip.  Protected from the wind, we were suddenly warm.  The mangroves and their roots supported many birds.  Navigation was straight forward, though many of the turns were tight.  Only in Broad Creek did we encounter a single place where we had to pull our boats across a snag with our hands.

A crock (!) along Broad River

John in the Nightmare

More Nightmare





Eric and Will in the Nightmare

more Will and Eric

Broad Creek

Broad Creek

Sunset at Harney River Chickee

Harney Chickee to Oyster Bay Chickee

We had light rain overnight, and the temperature dropped considerably.  The spring high tide woke us up as the open canoe and the kayak got caught under the dock and filled with water.  By the time this happened, the front had passed, the sky was brilliantly clear, the wind was brisk, and the temperature dipped into the thirties.

Another long slog, against tide and strengthening wind.  We learned first hand the complex relationships between the interior tidal flows and the tides at the mouths of the rivers.  Inside it can be rising while it is falling at the mouth, and vice versa.  The relationship is not linear.  By the time we hit the upper reaches of Whitewater Bay and Oyster Bay, the winds were 20+ with breaking waves.  We took sheltered routes behind islands to make the last few miles.

Sunrise at Harney River Chickee

Day 5 - Oyster Bay Chickee to Flamingo

We hade high winds early at the Oyster Bay Chickee, but the winds dropped to below 15 by morning.  An early breakfast and a cold start under brilliant skies marked the beginning of another long day.  We had tides with us much of the time, though the wind did not cooperate very much.  We had a break at the Joe River Chickee and a late lunch at the South Joe Chickee.  At South Joe we met a Swiss father and two sons on a leisurely fishing trip.  They weren't quite ready for the cold.

Coots on Coot Bay

We arrived at Flamingo in time for a shower, ice cream, and microwave sandwiches at the little store (open 7-7).  We stayed at the campground at Flamingo that night and left for home the next morning with a temperature reading of 38 degrees.