Now that I’ve been in Key Largo for almost two and a half weeks, it’s time for an update. I didn’t initially plan on staying this long but there were a couple of things happening that I wanted to be a part of. First off, I really enjoy spending time with my friends down here. There are so many interesting and wonderful people living in the Keys. Hearing their stories over dinner and drinks is an absolute blast. The crew from Florida Bay Outfitters (FBO) are extremely generous and really make you feel at home.
Secondly, some visually impaired veterans from Team River Runners were conducting a clinic down here and my friend Jaimie Jackson and FBO hosted them. What an experience! I was thrilled to meet such excellence. These veterans can do anything! Paddling blind or visually impaired is no easy feat. Add whitewater rapids on a river or narrow mangrove tunnels in the keys and suddenly these people are superheroes in my book! It’s beyond amazing. That was a very inspirational experience.
Tomorrow afternoon, Celeste Degen and I, are going to launch from behind Florida Bay Outfitters and paddle to Flamingo, Florida. Celeste is one of the guides at FBO and a great friend. I’m looking forward to sharing an exciting leg of my journey with her. We’re going to paddle east to Nest Key and camp there the first night. I haven’t quite decided which key we’re staying on the second night. I expect to be in Flamingo by day three. This short paddle will take us into the Everglades National Park. It’s going to be a very interesting paddle due to the unique ecology of the Everglades.
It takes quite a bit of planning if you choose to kayak down here in the Florida Keys or the Everglades. However, it’s pretty easy if you get the right information from the best sources. Frank and Monica Woll of Florida Bay Outfitters have been an integral part of my planning. Monica is a member and founder of several organizations that create and preserve biking, hiking, and kayaking trails throughout the state of Florida. Being able to personally ask them questions and plan routes have been priceless!! Last I helped add to some of that knowledge by kayaking the Outer Keys. So, if you’re interested in kayaking the length of the Keys or adventuring through the Everglades, you really should stop by Florida Bay Outfitters. They sell every map and guide book you need. The shop has a wide variety of supplies for your journey as well as some pretty badass swag to wear.