Saturday, April 4 - After a superb buffet breakfast at the Ivy House, the group headed out to the NPS canoe and kayak launch site. We re-packed our personal items in dry bags, stuffed the tandem kayaks and pushed off into gentle water. The longest stretch of open water was the first mile, which doesn't sound like much. But when you are sitting 3 feet above the water level with nothing but a paddle in your hands, the distance can be daunting.
The first day was especially hard on my arms and shoulders, and I was wondering if anyone else was having trouble. My back was was feeling ok, or at least I was not thinking about it over my arms and shoulders. Rick was my partner and we were behind the group some of the time, and I needed to take breaks, but he was great about it. That's was great about him - he always has a good attitude.
We stopped at Indian Key for lunch. This was a beautiful yet busy sandy beach only a mile or so from the Gulf of Mexico. We shared the beach with another group off their boat, and a Park Ranger and clean-up crew. After a nice lunch of sandwiches and fruit we headed to Tiger Key, and our home for the next three nights.
Along the way we saw lots of birds and a few dolphins. Lots of mangroves and boats too. I did not quite feel in the back-country yet, like when you are backpacking and you settle for the night at the top of a mountain or in a remote valley with only you and your tentmates, the wind and the hawks soaring above. But at the end of the day we logged over 8 miles by paddle, and Tiger Key was beautiful and remote. This time all we had was our guides, friends, and the sound of the surf. It was an amazing feeling looking out over the Gulf of Mexico and see only water from a small island off the coast of Florida. I immediately feel in love with the Everglades.