March 24, 2017
We rented a canoe to take the water trail through 9-Mile Lake. These canoes were big and heavy, making it difficult to maneuver in the tight mangroves There was a 20 mph wind, and I didn’t think this was a very good idea as we headed across the lake into the wind. We could easily be pushed up against the mangroves and turn over, but as we finally made it into the narrow parts of the trail, we were mostly protected from the wind. The first bay teemed with wildlife – ducks, coots, Ibis and shore birds were everywhere. It’s a tough place to shoot pictures though. The wind pushed us around and I couldn’t get a good shot before they all took off. A giant Blue Heron took off well in front of us.
After paddling kayaks for weeks, I saw the difficulty of handling a canoe in tight places. I kept watching for snakes in the mangroves to drop into the canoe. Never mind biting me, I would die of a heart attack. I have watched many shows on TV about the proliferation of escaped Anacondas, Pythons and others in the Everglades, I was nervous going through these tight places, but we only saw one alligator. One area was quite shallow and we barely made it through. I thought I would have to get out and walk it through, and that would have been interesting with a very soft bottom. The bottom is only soft for a foot or two, and then there is a limestone base. You could see it in many places, looking like someone had dropped cinderblocks. The wind was behind us as we came out to the big lake. We didn’t have to paddle, as it carried us at about 4 miles an hour.
We turned in our canoe and went back to the trailer for lunch. Martha opted for a quiet afternoon of reading and a nap while I went back to the rookery. I met a nice young couple from Quebec. They were traveling for 10 days and were going to the Keys tomorrow. The wind was so fierce, the birds were unable to fly into the wind. Even the Swallow Tails were having difficulty. I went back onto the main road and stopped along the left side. Climbing onto the tool box in the bed of the truck, I could sit on the kayak with my feet on the toolbox and have an incredible view. There was a pool in front of me, but sitting there for a while, I realized this went on for miles and miles. I could see birds feeding a half mile away. Each time I started to leave another bird flew into my pond.
On my return to camp, one pond was loaded with wildlife – Egrets, ducks and shore birds. I don’t know what the ducks were eating, but they were slowly swimming along with their heads under water having a ball. It makes you realize how much food is here. I don’t know what it all is, but the more I see in the Everglades, the more impressed I am. Right in the campground, we have seen Ibis everywhere, hawks and Ospreys are nesting on every tall object. In front of the visitor’s center dolphins swim right up to the wall. Pelicans are everywhere, and a giant alligator attracted lots of attention in the marina. We leave tomorrow, so we don’t even have time for one of the cruises or the half-hour lectures they have. I want to come back! But tomorrow – Shark Valley!