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!!
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!!!!
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