To East Cape and a Decision

Day 6 Map

Day 6: It was a soggy awakening on that morning.  My paddling clothes were damp from several days of kayaking in salt water.  Salt soaked clothing just doesn’t dry out.  The tent was wet both inside and out.  I’m the only one on this trip who used two ground cloths, one outside and one inside, a trick I learned from an older, experienced camper.  It has saved me several times.  This time was no exception.  After packing my gear and emptying the tent, I lifted the inside cloth to find the floor below it to be very wet, yet none of this had gotten onto my sleeping bag or gear.  Not everyone was a fortunate.  Most had some water in their tents, especially Joe whose sleeping bag was completely soaked along with his tent and all of his clothes.  

While we huddled around as Joel made breakfast, clutching our warm cups of brew, he told us that even though the weather this morning was benign, by afternoon a new front would move in bringing high winds and possible rain.  He suggested that we quickly pack up and head for the next camp at East Cape where we could hunker down for two days if we needed to.  We all agreed and, despite having to pack up wet gear, were on the water in less than an hour.  

It was a pleasant paddle along the wild Florida coast that morning.  A light breeze kept us comfortable as it pushed thin clouds, high above us, toward the southeast.  We pressed on past Middle Cape and along Lake Ingraham, hidden just behind the beach, where we hoped to spot more crocodiles sunning themselves.  But there were no crocodiles.  The clouds had thickened, blocking the sun that might have brought them out.

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We finally reached East Cape as the sky continued to darken, having paddled about ten miles.  Far off on the western horizon I could see dark bands of rain falling.  That told me to quickly set up camp to avoid having to do it in the rain, something I hate.  I got the inner tent and frame assembled, then spread the wet rain fly over some low bushes, giving them an opportunity to dry out, all the while keeping an eye on those distant storms.  While I waited, I grabbed my chair and Jetboil to enjoy an afternoon cup.

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There were no bugs that evening  We all sat around Joel as he cooked dinner, talking quietly.  He said that if the weather was suitable for paddling tomorrow it would make sense for us to head for Flamingo, as the tides would be favorable for a direct course across Florida Bay.  A day later, the tide would be lower causing us to take a longer and more circuitous route to get there.  However, doing this would get us to Flamingo a day early on February 1st.  Our shuttle wouldn’t pick us up until February 3rd.  There was very little discussion before we all said, “Let’s head out tomorrow, if we can.”

A summary of Day 6 when we make a run for East Cape.

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 © Don Yackel 2020