I woke up around 5 AM, and hit the Drive-Thru at McDonald’s with Gus and he would drop me off just as the sun would rise. The air was dead still, and fog loomed over the Salt-Water marsh prairies. The no see-ums were relentless and It was good motivation to keep on moving on the water to avoid getting bit. The sun was glistening on along the tips of the sea grass in all directions. Fortunately again, I got an early enough start to work with the current a lot. In the meanwhile, while I was paddling, Gus was rigged to go Kayak fishing for Red-Fish and would pick me up in Ft Clinch later in the day. He would end up catching several fish that day.
As for me, it was 23 more miles of the trail. I passed the Little Talbot area, and crossed the inlet just North of that area. The day would have no body aches, no gear troubles, or no challenges against the weather… just a consistent stroll throughout the day. I would paddle past Amelia Island on my right, and cross underneath the last bridge (A1A) of what felt like 1,000 during the course of the journey around Florida. Then I began to smell the factory mills of Fernandina Beach and could see land off in the distance that no longer belonged to Florida. It was Georgia. I remember visiting this area once before on foot over looking the water and thinking if I would ever get the opportunity or have the courage to Kayak Around Florida. At that time, I never knew if I would. Now here I was at my last mile, on a perfectly clear day as the bow of the kayak would hit the last grains of sand that would mark the end to an incredible journey.
It took me a couple years to do the trail starting off on the intracoastal waterways where I live in Southeast Florida, then making the long stride from Pensacola to Key West, and finally wrapping up the East Coast on this trip. Florida has a long, long coastline and the wildlife is richer than I could have ever imagined, some in good ways, some in bad ways… it seems like every small insect wants to bit or sting you! Seeing sunsets and sunrises into the water on the same day is a miraculous experience. Seeing clear skies after days of thunderstorms brings on a warmth that you could never simulate at home. I have met some incredibly nice people I never would have met in remote areas that I never would have visited. The diversity of the people, coastline, history, and wildlife all adds to each unique experience of each and every day, no area of Florida is exactly the same.
Even more importantly are the intangibles that you pick up on doing a trip like this. To be grateful for simply just existing in basic comfort and safety, in self-dependency, and a within sight of a good attitude that can take you anywhere. We are a social species, and craving the company of others is a natural phenomenon that we should be thankful for by having friends, family, and even acquaintances in our lives. It does not take an intimate conversation, but rather the presence of others to automatically make you feel more at ease. We cannot control our surroundings, but we can conform to them using patience and perseverance. Getting upset at things we cannot control is a waste of energy.
Spending time in nature is a great way to balance or lives and humble ourselves. You do not have to go as far to the extremes of spending months at a time, just a Sunday afternoon from time to time will fine tune you among your busy life. All the best things Florida has to offer is on or along the water, and there tens of thousands of areas right in most Floridian’s backyards that many never get to enjoy.
This was a major milestone I am proud to accomplish, and I am glad I ambitiously set aside the time for the experience of a lifetime.
Photo 1: Last Sunrise
Photo 2: Panoramic Shot
Photo 3: Factory Mills and Fernandina Beach
Photo 4: Georgia way off in the distance
Photo 5: The end of a long journey