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Ten Thousand Islands: January 2

Through the Interior

Route I paddled this day

Route I paddled this day

I took a lazy morning since my next campsite was relatively close. I eventually broke camp, ate breakfast, and got on the water. Although the miles were easy along the Lopez River, I had to constantly keep close track of where I was on the map. Getting turned around in the labyrinth of canals could be easy. For the moment though I still had the navigation markers from the Wilderness Waterway to follow.

I turned off the direct route to Watson’s Place towards House Hammock Bay merely to see more of the park. In this area all the scenery looked almost the same, but being on the water more was still enjoyable.

Since the shorelines were entirely solid mangrove tress, there were no good places to stop to eat or stretch your legs. I found an alternate spot though just after turning up the Huston River. I passed over a shallow area only about a foot deep and setup shop there. I carefully evacuated my kayak and sat straddling the rear deck for a bench. This table was very stable and provided a nice, bug free location to eat and also kept my feet cool.




After lunch as I continued towards Watson’s Place a storm blew in from behind, and I was concerned it might drench me. It broke up before any precipitation hit though, so I took advantage of the weather to explore a very narrow inlet on the river, just to see what it held. On my way in though I spotted a crocodile (or maybe alligator) lying in stealth along the bank with his nose just about the water. He was either on union break or waiting for an unsuspecting dinner to pass. I had no intention of having a grievance filed against me or becoming his next meal and used the full extent of my camera’s zoom for a few snapshots. With that reptile near the entrance to my inlet I avoided exploring it any further.



Less than a quarter mile up the main channel I saw even more wildlife with dolphins swimming in the river. Unfortunately I did not see the crocodile attack the dolphins, which could have determined if brain or brawn was superior. I might pitch the idea to Discovery Channel though.

Watson’s Place

A few miles past the wildlife exposition I arrived at Watson’s Place to camp. The site was hopping, with a group of ten college women plus their Outward Bound instructors. They were on a week long canoe trip through the Wilderness Waterway as part of a leadership course. The coeds mostly stuck to their own group and were well behaved, except for a few giggle fits.

Myself kayaking

Being an Outward Bound instructor or similar would be a nice job, although unfortunately I do not have the skill set or personality for it. Being able to teach people navigation and survival in the wilderness, while building their self esteem and potential, all in God’s creation while getting paid seems almost ideal. I do not lead people well though. I can take my own week long expeditions through the woods, but when it comes to guiding others, even in small things, I am less capable. Plus the mixture of camp consoler, leader, parent, friend, nurse, shoulder to cry on, and drill sergeant needed for an instructor are not my greatest strengths. A career that avoids being tied to a desk inside all day, and especially the politics that ensue, would be nice though.

I spent the evening hanging out with another group, two guys from California on a spontaneous paddling trip. We had long discussions from paddling, to water quality, to running, to construction, and about everything else. As darkness drew closer, yet another group arrived in a pair of power boats. These new comers made for eight tents and around twenty people at Watson’s Place. The small site probably was not rated for so many people, so the park service erred when issuing permits or someone was squatting.

The Outward Bound group carried a weather band radio, which provided an ominous forecast for the next day — twenty knot winds with 35 knot gusts and 6-9 foot swells in the outer region. This outlook was for the day I was scheduled to leave the backwaters for the coast. Maybe I would not be making my assigned site.