Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kayaking Southwest Florida: A Road Scholar Program

This Road Scholar program was based out of Port of the Islands Resort in East Naples, Florida, amidst the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge, the Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. 

The first day we paddled right from the resort marina, heading past the lovely homes bordering the resort, down the canal, and then off onto a mangrove-lined creek. Along the way, our kayak leader, Julie, stopped regularly to provide naturalist information regarding the flora and wildlife we were observing.

In the afternoon, our group leader, Frank, gave a slide show on Florida birds and later, we had a slideshow/lecture on the Everglades and global warming by local author Charlie Sobczak.

The second day, we bused to the Cocohatchee River Marina, from which we paddled to Barefoot Beach State Preserve where we enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading off for an interpretive nature hike with Julie and Frank, both of whom are extraordinarily knowledgeable Florida naturalists.

Later that evening we were treated to a wonderful hands-on show-and-tell type lecture on Florida invertebrates by Florida Master Naturalist, Pamela.

On day 3, we bused to the Koreshan State Historic Park and kayaked the lovely Estero River. In the photo below, we take a break from paddling...

After a picnic lunch, we toured the historic Koreshan site where an attempt at utopian society was made  in 1894, and in the evening, we had a slideshow by Frank on Florida's orchids.

Our final paddle was in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve on the twisting, turning, narrow East River, where we often had to use half a kayak paddle to negotiate the lovely and challenging mangrove tunnels as seen below...

After three and a half hours of intrictate paddling, we headed over to nearby Everglades City for lunch, followed by a visit to the famour Smallwood Store and Museum on the island of Chokoloskee.  Finally, we hiked the mile and a half boardwalk into Fakahatchee Strand, with naturalist interpretation along the way by Frank.

Here are our two extraordinary naturalists, group leader Frank and kayak leader Julie.

And here is the entire intrepid group of active Road Scholar kayakers...

Kneeling (l to r): Frank, September, and Julie
Middle row: Dorothea, Maggie, Nancy, Barbara, and Susan 
Back row: Dittmar, Ellen, Bill P., Betty, Chuck, Jim, Joe, and Bill H.

Additional photos are here and can be downloaded free.

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