Greetings from Trail Lakes Campground! Yes – no kidding – there is internet access here on a bench outside the campground office, beneath the “Skunk Ape Research Headquarters” sign, just around the corner from the emu-and-python petting zoo….
In breaking news, the amazing Paul, after putting in so much work to make the EC flotilla happen, may be unable to attend, due to work constraints (actually it’s due to a wonderful promotion, and his new duties won’t allow 2 weeks off so soon). He may bop down to join us for a couple of days. Let’s hope so! But since I’m down here and have easy e-access, l’ve volunteered to take over the point-of-contact duties.
Here’s what you'll find in this post (which has been sent to everyone on the "I think I'm coming" list, so if you didn't get it and want to be on the list, let me know):
POLL: Gear Swap?
The Skinny on Trail Lakes Campground
What There Is to Do Here
Fishing License Info
Your Mailing Address at Trail Lakes
What to pack
First and foremost, a resounding chorus of hip-hip-hoorays to Paul for giving us a Florida flotilla this year!
2. GEAR SWAP:
Have any kayak gear you’d like to sell or trade? Let me know (email@example.com
). If there’s enough interest, we can have a swap night. I’ll post the results of the poll, so you’ll know whether it’s worth bringing all those white elephants – er, treasures….
3. THE SKINNY ON TRAIL LAKES CAMPGROUND
It’s on highway 41, on the south side of the road, 5.4 miles east of the intersection of routes 29 and 41, about ¼ mile west of the Turner River launch. It’s easy to miss. The name “Trail Lakes Campground” appears nowhere at the site. Standard government-issue brown road signs indicate a campground nearby, but all you see from the road is “Exhibit Entrance”, a huge statue of a panther, a flag pole topped with a large metal mosquito, and copious references to the famed local “Skunk Ape”. That’s Trail Lakes!
AMENITIES ON SITE:
-- internet access via either their computer or your wifi-enabled laptop
-- hot showers
-- screened-in meeting room
-- emus and pythons and chatty parrots
-- sodas, some candy bars; no ice or phone
-- group camping for us (probably very cozy!), $7.00/night, no reservations required
AMENITIES within 5 mile radius:
-- pay phone
-- cell phone coverage
-- gas station/convenience store
--Joanies Blue Crab Café (mmmmmm!)
--the smallest post office in the US, with its coveted Ochopee postmark
AMENITIES at Everglades City, 10 miles away:
-- good-sized grocery store
-- hardware store
-- airboat rides
-- fishing charters
-- commercial kayak tours, including mothership kayak-fishing!
-- wonderful restaurants!!! (My Sierra Stove is taking a few days off…)
5. WHAT THERE IS TO DO HERE:
MANGROVES AND MARSHES:
For day-paddlers, there are mangrove-lined rivers like the Turner (only 1/4 mile from the campground!) and Halfway Creek (only 3 miles away). If you’ve been reading your Ripple (_Day Paddling Florida’s 10,000 Islands and Big Cypress Swamp_), be advised that Wilma deadfall is still choking the lower portion of Halfway Creek and the upper Barron River, so the Halfway Creek/Barron River Loop (trip #9) is out.
THE 10,000 ISLANDS:
They are, like, right here!!! You can paddle or sail out among them for a day or for overnights. Of those 10,000 islands, turns out there are a half-dozen or so nearby but outside the Park, where the camping is good and free and requires no reservations. There are also many boat-in campsites within the Park, on keys or ground sites (the chickees are all closed for repairs), where permits and reservations (and fees) are required.
THE WILDERNESS WATERWAY:
Everglades City is its northern terminus, so it is also, like, right here! This year, thanks to Wilma, the backcountry is closed to overnighters south of the Broad River, but the adventure-minded could paddle and camp for dozens and dozens of miles and many days and nights, in and out and around and about, without hitting that boundary. Fees and reservations required.
RANGER-LED TRIPS in Everglades City (10 miles away) or Big Cypress (15 miles away):
Swamp tromps, evening programs, bike tours, and bird walks (OK, get that Monty Python sketch out of your head, this is serious stuff!).
There are several within 20 miles of Everglades City -- at Big Cypress, Collier-Seminole, and Fakahatchee.
Everglades City has a huge selection, from City Seafood’s picnic tables overlooking the Barron River to the toney and historic Rod and Gun Club Lodge, where presidents and movie stars like to dine.
Airboat rides, guided kayak tours, fishing charters – many companies offer tours out of Everglades City.
6. FISHING LICENSE INFO:
There is a company that runs a kayak-fishing mothership out of Everglades City. If you’re interested, or if you want to toss a line in along the Chokoloskee causeway, you’ll need a salt-water fishing license. They are not available locally, although I am told that the Naples WalMart carries them. You can get one ahead of time by calling:
7. YOUR MAILING ADDRESS AT TRAIL LAKES:
40904 Tamiami Trail East
Ochopee, FL 34141
No need to include “Trail Lakes Campground” in the address. You can UPS your boat to the campground, if you like. Or your week’s supply of chocolate soy milk….
8. WHAT TO PACK:
--clothes for hot, muggy weather (that was yesterday)
--clothes for chilly, windy weather (today, after last night's cold front)
--shoes or boots that can get muddy, if you'd like to go on a swamp tromp
If you have any questions, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org
), and your trusty scout will attempt to track down the answers. If she’s not too busy paddling or eating ‘gator canapés, that is….
From the swamps, eager for y’all to arrive....