I left Durney Island and stopped at Brasher Park for a supply run to Wal-mart. Since it was late in the afternoon, I decided to stop at Hope’s Bayou campsite about 4 miles north. It was gorgeous back there with a covered pavilion and fire ring. Unfortunately the rain came so I was stuck in my tent for a day. I should have just paddled because it was only rain without the lightning. After a day of relaxing in the rain, I paddled out and made it to Hudson a few miles later. It was quite chilly with the wind blowing pretty hard so I decided to get a room at The Inn on the Gulf. Very nice and comfortable rooms, so I stayed two nights! I needed the rest. It’s that point in a paddle where you start to lose motivation. You’re tired, lonely and it feels like you’re simply not going anywhere. For me, it comes down to self-care.
After I left Hudson, I paddled 17 miles to Ten Palms Unofficial campsite. I don’t think anyone has been there in a very long time. There wasn’t much room for a tent so I ended up nestled under a thorny bush. I’m glad I was in there though. About 2 AM I woke up and saw lightning flashes in the gulf. I checked my radar and saw a gnarly front heading towards me. I jumped up and put the rain-fly on and waited. Soon the wind picked up and was blowing very hard but I was protected very well and just went back to sleep as the rain poured down and the lightning flashed. It rained until about 9 AM. I woke up and decided I wouldn’t make it 23 miles to Uncle Tom’s Island. I got online and checked for tent sites available at Chassahowitzka River Campground and managed to get one before the weekend rush.
On my way to Chassa I learned that the water was shallow and full of rocks just below the surface. I managed to quickly cut left and right and avoided most of them but still hit a few. The damage isn’t bad but I’d rather not do it anymore. I took Blind Creek to the Chassahowitzka Bay and saw several bald eagles. I love seeing those majestic birds. I find them comforting. The incoming tide pushed me up the river fast. As I exited the salt marsh and entered the hammock, I was bewildered by the beauty. The water was clear. I could see mullet everywhere, gar fish, a family of otters swam by me and I finally encountered friendly manatees. The river traffic picked up as well. Suddenly there were kayaks and paddle-boards everywhere you looked. Most people were chasing manatees around as they slowly glided downstream. The campground here is beautiful and well maintained. There’s air boat rides, kayak rentals, a little store by the river and several restaurants that deliver.