Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Florida Keys Challenge - 10

No. 1 is our departure from Sugarloaf KOA, No. 2 is our lunch stop at Sammy Creek,
No. 3 is our arrival this day at Boyd's Campground, and No. 4 is
the last day's sprint to Key West.

I managed to be first off the ramp in the morning. It would be our last long paddle, and I wanted to get a good start. Another problem with being in the back of the pack is that any wildlife that might be happened upon is long gone before the rear guard paddles through. This morning I paddled close along the mangroves and saw assorted birds galore. We just followed the shore of Sugarloaf until we reached Sugarloaf Creek, also called Sammy Creek. The road crosses the creek there, and a picnic area has been built right on the point. That made our lunch stop.

As I approached shore, it was evident the entire area had been filled with crushed limestone. It had the appearance of having a very solid shoreline as the crushed stone spread into the water. I pulled parallel to the shore, stepped our with my left foot, and prepared to stand up. Suddenly the rock was sinking beneath me into the bottomless mud. My left foot was locked in the mud, and the canoe was slowly moving from beneath me. As I began to do a split, I was about to make a very unceremonious splash when someone fortunately grabbed Ibi’s bow. When I got ashore, I learned another paddler had faced the same situation, but not having a savior to lend a hand, ended up going for a swim.

If you can pick them out. there are four tents and a picnic table in the one small
space where the clothes are drying between the two trees.

After leaving Sammy Creek, we passed Saddlebunch, Pelican, Saddlehill, Geiger, and Boca Chica Keys. Once you reach the mouth of Boca Chica Channel, Stock Island lies ahead, and wildlife and mangroves are replaced with commercial enterprises. Many shoals litter the harbor mouth. Once you make your way up the channel, Boyd’s Campground is found on the east shore of Stock Island close by the Overseas Highway bridge. When I made landfall, I learned there were still fifteen boats behind me yet to arrive. The campsites here are very small. Every effort is made to maximize the available ground. Campsites are barely large enough for a car and tent, but for economy we needed to pitch four tents per site. There were literally only inches between tents. This would be our last night. Our last real paddle had been 18.6 miles, the same as our first day.

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