The 2016 Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous in Flamingo at the end of the road!

2016 Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous in Flamingo, Everglades National Park.

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The Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous go back as far as the 1980’s when paddle clubs from around the state would have informal get togethers. Today, it is a multi day paddling and camping event, each year hosted by a different local club in a beautiful area.

This year’s rendezvous was hosted by Charlie Arazoza of www.bushpaddlers.org and held at the Flamingo Campground at the “end of the road” on December 2-4, 2016. Some of the sponsors included the Florida Paddling Trails Association (FPTA), and the event was set to benefit the South Florida National Parks Trust.

There were many guided scheduled paddles, camping activities and social gatherings throughout the long weekend. I was able to participate for two days and one night, and co-lead two trips on the Bear Lake Canoe Trail and on Florida Bay!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Welcome to the 2016 Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous in Flamingo, Florida – at the end of the road inside Everglades National Park!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

One thing that quickly became apparent was that this was also the site of the 2016 Florida Mosquitoes’ Rendezvous! 😉

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Who would’ve thunk it that the 2016 Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous would be held at the same time and same place as the 2016 Florida Mosquitoes’ Rendezvous!

What are the odds?! 😉

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Flex Maslan canoe Kayak Everglades kayakfari give blood mosquito humor

This year, everybody participated in the blood drive at Flamingo! 😉

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Suited up, en-route to the launch spot for the Bear Lake Canoe Trail.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Bear Lake Road is a narrow dirt track leading up to the old Homestead Canal launch. I could see swarms of more mosquitoes outside the windows!
Note that the gate to access this road is often locked. You will need to call the Ranger station and inquire ahead of time if you want to launch there!

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There were many guided Everglades paddles during the Rendezvous. Some of the trails and paths used were pioneered and mapped by contemporary backcountry explorers Keith W. and Terry Helmers, among others at the Everglades Exploration Network (EEN). This site is an excellent resource for all Everglades trips related and we all owe them a debt of gratitude!

My part was to co-lead a trip on the Bear Lake Canoe Trail along with Miami’s Esther Luft of the Virginia Key Outdoor Center (VKOC). Due to the multitudes of mosquitoes we had a small turnout, but a great time nonetheless – even if we had to paddle in bug jackets the whole time!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

So what happens when you get to the put-in and one of your paddlers locks himself outside of his running vehicle?
You call on Esther to find a way to open it up! 😉

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Bear Lake Canoe Trail details.
Note that you can also access this put-in via a short portage from the Buttonwood Canal!
CLICK for large readable version!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Bear Lake Canoe Trail launch spot and old dock.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Paddling on the Homestead Canal dug in the 1920’s.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Paddling in bug suits, still smiling for z camera!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

There are always bugs, and then there are even MORE bugs!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

The canal is easy straight ahead paddling in chocolate color water.
Unfortunately it does NOT smell like chocolate!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Paddler Lisa H. enjoying the sights along the Bear Lake Canoe Trail.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Esther Luft and Lisa H. paddling on the old Homestead Canal.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Bear Lake though the mangrove canopy of the old Homestead Canal/Bear Lake Canoe Trail.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Popping out of the mangroves and out into Bear Lake!

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Flex Maslan East Cape Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Your 2016 Rendezvous host Charlie Arazoza of www.bushpaddlers.org paddling on Bear Lake from a previous exploratory trip.
CLICK: Go West to East Cape – an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie!

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Bear Lake is a good sized body of water, and after paddling out about 50 feet into the breeze we were able to unzip the skeeter netting and have a snack. This area is actually very pretty and worth exploring once the South Florida winter cools off a bit more! For more from this region, check out:

Go West to East Cape – an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie!

Also see SUP paddler Scott Baste’s Mud Lake Trail adventures album (Facebook login required).

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Along the edge of the lake, these tiny oysters cling to the long mangrove roots like pearls!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Safely zipped up back inside my bug shirt, we paddle back!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

The Bear Lake Canoe Trail (Homestead Canal) was cleared out for us to enjoy by the volunteer efforts of the Swamp Apes led by Tom Rahill who otherwise hunts down invasive Pythons!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

There are lots of pretty epiphytes like these Bromeliads all along the trail!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Plants that live in the air on the Bear Lake Canoe Trail / Homestead Canal.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Old dock at the Bear Lake Canoe Trail put-in on the Homestead Canal.
Note that there is no parking here – it is a loading area only! Parking is slightly further back in a clearing along the Buttonwood Canal!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Everglades homestead canal kayakfari bear mud lake canoe flamingo trail mound bugs camp 2016

Dock signage straight outta the 70’s!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Meanwhile back in camp .. Charlie relaxes inside his bug suit and under his distinctive hat!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Who is this foxy lady from the Virginia Key Outdoor Center?

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Esther and Kayak Ted (Spiritwalker) at camp in Flamingo.

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Saturday night’s dinner was truly a feast! BIG thanks to all who prepared the delicious dishes!!
The only remaining question was who ate better – the people or the mosquitoes?! 😉

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Our host Charlie Arazoza with kayaking musician Bob Bonnen who entertained us all night with his extensive repertoire! 🙂

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Bob Bonnen playing in the spotlight at the 2016 Paddlers’ Rendezvous in Flamingo. Bob also led some trips during the day!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Ian W. kept our fire going all night and thus didn’t need any bug protection.. 😉

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Then there comes the morning! You are looking at the skeeters OUTSIDE of the tent netting!
The one’s inside my tent were massacred previously during the night! 🙂

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Flamingo camping Aerial kayakfari Florida Bay Everglades kayak Everglades Flex Maslan canoe panoramic campground

Aerial bird’s-eye view of main camping field at Flamingo, Everglades National Park with the ill-fated Eco Tent.
The 2016 Rendezvous site was similar but in the reserved lot area.
CLICK for spin-around 360 view!

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Florida Bay & Keys Aerial VR Panoramas

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Flamingo aerial kayakfari Florida Everglades Bay kayak boat launch ramp canoe

Aerial view of the Flamingo boat launch ramps in Everglades National Park. This is where most paddlers launch out into Florida Bay!
CLICK for superwide interactive panorama!

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Despite the easterly winds of 15-20 knots, a group of 19 paddlers assembled themselves at the Flamingo boat launch ramps for the last paddle of the 2016 Rendezvous on Florida Bay. I was very glad to have the assistance of paddler Tom Bonnen sweeping up this group of enthusiastic kayakers!

Due to the stiff head wind, we hugged the mangrove shoreline heading east to have a peek out over Snake Bight. The tide was also dropping, so we didn’t have much time. Large parts of this area become exposed mud flats on low tide, especially with a strong east wind!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari bay Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Group heading out in the lee along the shoreline of Florida Bay.
This trip was 100% bug-free! 🙂

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari bay Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

As we rounded Christian Point, we were looking out across Snake Bight into conditions similar to this. Naturally, this was the turn-around point!

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Flex Maslan Florida Bay Everglades white pelicans kayakfari photography Kayak wildlife artist winter birding

Hundreds of White Pelicans miles away in the distance over another flats bank in Florida Bay.
CLICK for: Welcoming the fall arrival of White Pelicans in Florida Bay!

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The Everglades are for the birds!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide birds

Another scene of birds feeding on flats banks similar to what we saw in the distance on Snake Bight.
CLICK for: The hold up at First National Bank in Florida Bay!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari bay Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Paddling back to Flamingo with the wind, but with only inches of water under the boats!

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For more on paddling Florida Bay, check out:

Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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Kayak Everglades kayakfari bay Florida Paddlers Rendezvous flamingo bugs camp paddle bushpaddlers 2016

Paddler and wood worker Tom Bonnen in his custom Black Pearl Greenland-style kayak in front of the Flamingo Ranger Station.
We closed out the 2016 Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous!

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BIG thanks to Charlie Arazoza, the Bush Paddlers and sponsors, the Florida Paddling Trails Association (FPTA) and all the great people that made this a success. I will look forward to the next Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous!

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More pictures from the event:

SLACKERS meetup – Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous

Miami Kayak Club – Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous

Facebook event – Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous

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Enjoy!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari.com rasta 420 happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure fitness awakenthegrass everglades florida

! BLESS

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© 2016 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com . All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

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I hereby disclaim any sponsorship, endorsement, nor association with any product or service described herein. The photographs, depictions, products, and ideas presented on this site are for informational purposes only. Your results may vary, and I do not imply nor guarantee the effectiveness, suitability, design or operation to adhere to any standard. I assume no legal responsibility for the implementation of anything herein presented! Use any and all information at your own risk! By using any and all information from this website, you accept the final liability for any use or possible associated misuse!

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With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

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