Last night was the coldest yet. I got fully dressed and used one more of my hot pocket hand warmers which I tossed inside my socks. I did not want to have to go outside to pee, so I commandeered one of my empty water bottles for that purpose. Incredibly, I peed over a liter of urine in the bottle like Jim Carry in Dumb and Dumber, and I was close to needing a second. A freshly used pee bottle is also a good hand warmer...
A different fisherman showed up in the morning while I packed up. He was an African American man with a pickup truck towing his dinghy. He wore a Gortex suit which I assume must have been waterproof as he waded knee deep into the cold river water to get the boat off the trailer.
“You fish off that kayak of yours?” He asked me with a thick New York accent. I noticed asks me that.
“No, just paddling. I started in Miami two weeks ago. Now I’m here. If all goes well, I’ll go around the whole state.” I said.
“And you have no motor on that?! You in some sort of spiritual journey?”
“No.” I said. “Just vacation from work. Got to be back by February 10 or the bosses won’t be happy...”
“Well I’m on a permanent vacation,” he said. “I sold my business for $8 million. Now I go fishing everyday... I’ve always been my own boss, and now I order myself to go fishing so I go.” And with that he motored away into the morning fog towards St Marys. He was the only person I saw all day.
Paddling upriver is slow. I only averaged 2.6 miles per hour. On a kayak even a 1 mile per hour counter current really drags down progress. Today I paddled 10 hours, so at least 10 miles I gave back to the river.
The vegetation on the riverbank has changed. On the coast there were many marshes and tall grasses; now there are thick woodlands of pine trees and willows covered with hanging threads of Spanish moss. It’s also remarkably quiet; if I stop paddling, I can hear even the faintest bird call somewhere deep in the woods, or even no sound at all.
Occasionally I passed a house or two. Usually the houses had a small peer with a pontoon sticking out into the river. Some were down beaten ramshackle things I would have been scared to stop and stretch my legs; a rotten board or two and I'd fall through in the water. Others were palatial estates with manicured lawns, a sturdy sea wall, and a private boat ramp. I looked at them with some jealousy, " What a great place it would be to pitch my tent on those beautiful lawns," I thought. Both the poor and rich houses had plenty of signs and flags supporting Donald Trump. Some were haughty and eager to flaunt their support, with several Trump themed drapes hanging over their balconies. It’s probably a good idea to avoid discussing politics with the locals.
I stopped a little before the point I had marked to camp. It was past sunset when I saw what looked like the perfect spot on the river; a beach with a gentle slope up the riverbank and a patch of grass big enough for one tent. I struggled with my thoughts if I should stop here. It looked so inviting, but I didn’t want to fall short of where I had set myself to get to. I kept going; but two turns of the river later, I saw another inviting campsite location, not quite as good as the first, but nothing thumb my nose at. I concluded this was a sign from the above not to press my luck. Perhaps the river beach I had marked further up didn’t really exist.
Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation