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

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Flex Maslan Bear Lake Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Smooth cruising on Bear Lake towards the connect to Gator Lake.

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Flex Maslan East Cape aerial beach camp kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Aerial seagull’s eye view of group camping on East Cape, Everglades National Park.
CLICK for interactive superwide panorama – try it on your iPhone!

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“Go West to East Cape young man”, said no one ever! However going west, in this case west of the main Park road is where the majority of paddling and exploration in Everglades National Park is to be found. This trip, organized by modern day ‘Glades explorer Terry Helmers of the Everglades Exploration Network was spurred by rumors and suspicions that an inland route to East Cape was possible and could and should be rediscovered! Through the 70’s, 80’s and up until hurricane Andrew roared over South Florida in 1992, the preferred route for paddlers was to take the Homestead Canal all the way west to intersect with the East Cape Canal. This was a protected route that enabled canoeists to avoid and bypass potentially choppy and windy Florida Bay – as in this entertaining account from 1986. After Andrew and a few more hurricanes, this route became impassable. Through years of volunteer efforts of Tom Rahill and the Swamp Apes, a section of the Homestead Canal has been cleared,  and is now part of the Bear Lake Canoe Trail. Further west, a new “plug” dam has been recently constructed to prevent both unauthorized motor boat access and salt water intrusion into the nearby prairies. What makes this story interesting is that Terry and the EEN gang realized that it may be possible to now bypass the plug and canals almost completely if a path could be forged west of Bear Lake into Gator Lake and on through the Raulerson Prairies!

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

Satellite view of route traveled in relation to main points of interest between Flamingo and East Cape. The interior route from Coot Bay Pond to East Cape is 16 miles.

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The day started early at 4am in order to meet up with the group at 0700 !

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

Patchy pre-dawn fog on the main Park road in Everglades National Park.

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

Launching into Coot Bay Pond in the early morning.

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Flex Maslan Coot Bay Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Paddling under mangrove tunnel connecting Coot Bay Pond to Coot Bay.

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Coot Bay was named for the once plentiful “Coots”  (birds similar to ducks) that resided there. The many canals dug throughout the 20th century increased salt water intrusion into the Everglades interior and forced the birds out. The mangrove canopy tunnel we paddled through was actually cut and dredged by Capt Louis Watson only in 1945 in order to enable easier boating access into Whitewater Bay. Today it is  very picturesque and provides excellent canoe and kayak access from the main Park road.

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

Cool mangrove tunnel in the Everglades!

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Flex Maslan Coot Bay Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Exiting onto a glassy smooth Coot Bay.

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Paddling out across Coot Bay and Mud Bay provided an nice & easy warm-up to the day’s paddling. As pointed out in the above map, just south of Mud Lake is an ancient and very large Calusa mound called Bear Lake Mound. From this high ground, the native engineers and builders had dug a canal all the way down to Florida Bay to the south. Referred to as the “Bear Lake Indian Canal”, you can still trace the outline on Google Earth today. It was some 20 to 30 feet wide and only a couple of feet deep. This was enough to enable travel in native dug out canoes and more importantly was part of a network that allowed Calusa paddlers to traverse the Everglades interior via Mud Lake, Coot Bay, into Whitewater Bay and out towards the Ten Thousand Islands. In this way the ancients were able to avoid having to paddle out around the exposed Cape!

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Flex Maslan Calusa Mud Lake canal kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak 1922 floridamemory.com

Debris filled ancient (Calusa) canal that ran from Mud Lake to Florida Bay.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://www.floridamemory.com
Photographed in 1922 by John Kunkel Small.

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Time didn’t permit us to explore the area, although we headed out towards the Cape on the inside for the very same reasons that the Calusa had – enlightened minds think alike!

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Flex Maslan Bear Lake Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Incredibly gorgeous morning on a mirror-like Bear Lake.

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Flex Maslan Bear Lake Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Toby aka “Whitecaps” a Watertribe expedition adventure racer on Bear Lake.

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Flex Maslan Bear Lake Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

On Bear Lake, Everglades National Park.

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Flex Maslan Bear Lake Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Charlie Arazoza of www.bushpaddlers.org paddles on Bear Lake.

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Flex Maslan Bear Lake Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Paddlers cruising on Bear Lake in the Everglades.

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The section between Bear Lake and Gator Lake has been recently scouted out, and you can read detailed discussions of it here.

Needless to say this connection is critical to a successful inland passage. Terry and Co have dubbed it “Spoonbill Pass” on account of seeing a Roseate Spoonbill standing there. It’s as good a name as any, and certainly this pass has existed for some time, just waiting to be re-discovered! In February 2014, there was easily enough water for easy passage and a good time to try for a push all the way through to the Cape.

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

Satellite view of the section between Bear Lake and Gator Lake.

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

Lining up exiting Bear Lake and on towards “Spoonbill Pass”.

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Flex Maslan Bear Lake Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Paddlers negotiating their way around barnacle and oyster encrusted deadwood on exiting Bear Lake onward and forward to “Spoonbill Pass”.

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

Approaching “Spoonbill Pass” – the connection between Bear Lake and Gator Lake.

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

Google Earth view of actual paddled route to compare with 1959 aerial photograph below of the same area!

Flex Maslan East Cape aerial Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass 1959 photography kayak floridamemory.com

Aerial view from 1959 of Bear Lake and “Spoonbill Pass” with Florida Bay on the horizon to the south.
Route paddled overlaid in blue. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://www.floridamemory.com
Photographer: Karl E. Holland

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Compare these two views of the same area 55 years apart! What stands out immediately is that half a century ago the vicinity of the Homestead Canal (on the left) was much wetter and fresher than it is today, as the mangroves haven’t filled in that far yet. I would imagine that our route was probably doable even back in December of 1959!

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

“Spoonbill Pass” – the KEY to the inland route!

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Flex Maslan Spoonbill Pass Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Gliding under a mangrove canopy through “Spoonbill Pass” in the Everglades.

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Once through “Spoonbill Pass” we arrived at the junction of the Homestead Canal at Gator Lake, where an old campsite used to be. The Homestead Canal was  dug in the 1920’s to establish a navigable route from Flamingo to the Cape and thereby also to Miami. It never lived up to serve the dreams of land speculators and investors and fell into disuse, eventually becoming a trail for Everglades adventurers. Today the site is overgrown, but the high ridge is dry above the water!

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Flex Maslan Gator Lake aerial kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Aerial view at the transition to Gator Lake on the Homestead Canal.

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

Gator Lake at the Homestead Canal and ridge.

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Flex Maslan Gator Lake aerial kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Terry cuts into a section that was once the Gator Lake camp on the Homestead Canal.

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Flex Maslan Gator Lake aerial kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

First look at the Gator Lake camp and Homestead Canal ridge.

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Flex Maslan Gator Lake aerial kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

The Homestead Canal ridge and what is left of the Gator Lake camp and is dry ground.

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Flex Maslan Gator Lake aerial kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

The Banana Boat at the Gator Lake camp on the Homestead Canal.

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This spot also marked where our group split up into two. “Terry’s kids” headed north into Gator Lake and beyond up into the Fox Lakes and try for a possible connection to the South Joe River Chickee – still TBD and was a very long day trip!

In the other group our goal was to camp on the Cape. Onward we continued on into a Terra Incognita – the vast Raulerson Prairie named for the Raulerson brothers who tried a cattle ranching operation there back in the day.

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

Cruising the wide open expanses of the Raulerson Prairies in the Everglades.

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Unknown to us was the water level in the area, as we had heard many stories of pea soup like sticky mud that others had reportedly encountered. As it were, we actually had a good 2 feet or more and it was really easy cruising the entire way! In especially dry times however this may not always be the case – you have been warned!!

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

A short break on the coastal prairie.

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

Bob and Helen cruising in their tandem kayak.

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

The last stretch from the Raulerson Prairie and out the East Cape Canal into Florida Bay.

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

Everglades photographer Constance Mier checks the map on the Raulerson Prairie just east of the Cape.

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

Connie paddles her canoe through the Raulerson Prairie.

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

Reporting station EDEN East_Side_creek next to the East Cape Canal in the Everglades in February 2014.

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I was hoping to spot a gauge station somewhere inside the Raulerson Prairie to be able to get remote water level data in the future, but the only one there is just outside of the East Cape Canal called the East Side Creek. It’s part of the very useful “EDEN” Everglades Depth Estimation Network.

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

Paddling down the creek towards the East Cape Canal.

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The paddling had been so easy that we were literally being pulled out into the East Cape Canal, even though it was an incoming tide. This is something I still don’t understand! Once “dumped” out into the canal I was greeted by a speeding powerboat and back to reality c’est la vie.

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

Exiting into the East Cape Canal.

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

The East Cape Canal “plug” dam is just a few hundred feet away so we went to check it out!

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

East Cape Canal RIPRAP !

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

Small dock at the East Cape Canal plug dam – canoe/kayak ramp at left.

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Checking out the recently installed “plug” dam on the East Cape Canal, it’s easy to get on and off, but the ramp can be slippery. Also you’ll probably want a wheeled dolly to make the short portage, especially if you’re going solo with a load. The East Cape Canal was one of several dug in the early 20th century in vain efforts to “drain” the Everglades and make the land suitable for human consumptive uses. The  book “Dredgemen of Cape Sable” by Lawrence E. Will is an entertaining first hand account and a good read. It can also be downloaded for free as a PDF.

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Flex Maslan East Cape canal plug dam kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Looking due north, on top of the East Cape Canal “plug” dam, aerial view.

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Flex Maslan East Cape canal plug dam kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

February 2014 afternoon, on top of the East Cape Canal plug dam, looking due south towards Florida Bay.

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The canal zone is actually pretty busy with boaters heading in and out of Lake Ingraham, especially on a weekend!

Once out in Florida Bay, we were actually ahead of schedule, and made landfall well before 3pm.

We chose a nice spot right next the the little creek just before rounding the Cape. The beach isn’t as wide as further up the coast, but it had direct exposure to the southeasterly breezes that were forecast.

East Cape hasn’t changed much, except there aren’t as many Coconut Palms left since a hundred years ago or so!

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Flex Maslan East Cape Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak 1916 floridamemory.com

Coconut Palms on the beach at East Cape in 1916.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://www.floridamemory.com

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

At camp on East Cape .. the dead can dance, witness a complete Tern skull.

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

The last sunlight illuminates the beach foliage on East Cape!

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Flex Maslan East Cape aerial beach camp kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Aerial bird’s-eye view of our camp on East Cape, Everglades National Park.
CLICK for panoramic – try it on your iPhone!

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Camping on the Cape is always nice, however there can be some serious no-see-ums, and for us it was no exception. After dusk we set up a nice campfire and with some help from a little breeze we were alright.

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

Sunset discussions in camp on East Cape.

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

Classic beautiful sunset over East Cape in the Everglades!

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part II

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

By the campfire on the beach at East Cape in the Everglades.

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

The setting crescent moon prompted Connie and Toby into a photo-symbiotic episode utilizing Toby’s powerful LED lamps!

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

Connie and Toby were lighting up the night!

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

Setting moon at the mouth of the little creek that runs up into Lake Ingraham.
I was using a wide field LED light for fill in on these shots.

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It gets really nice and dark out on the Cape!

NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

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

Night time on the Cape is very dark except for the permanent glow from the Miami urban area to the east. Note that the Big Dipper is rising and bright Jupiter nearly overhead!

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I made plans to stay out on the Cape another night, so I tried to sleep in as the rest of the group departed. Toby had the best plan by far, launching before dawn before all the bugs came out to play. As I dazed in and out of continued sleep I overheard someone quip “Oh they’re bad out here [on the water]  too!”.

I observed the very numerous gnats, no-see-ums & skeeters outside, and resolved to stay inside the sacred inner sanctum of my tent for as long as possible.

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

I sat up from my slumber just in time to see Vivian paddle off in the early morning.

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

Look closely & you will see the many reasons why I didn’t get out to wave goodbye.. 😉

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

Unable to sleep due to building heat inside my tent, I anxiously survey the early morning bug situation.

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It feels timeless to be on the Cape!

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Flex Maslan East Cape Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak 1953 floridamemory.com

Man and skiff at East Cape in 1953.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://www.floridamemory.com
Photographer: W. Armstrong Price

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After the bugs left I had the beach all to myself, and there was a lot of it on low tide. I took some time to explore and photograph the wide expanses.

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Flex Maslan East Cape low tide flats kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Early morning on the beautiful Cape Sable coastline at low tide!

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Flex Maslan East Cape Ibis low tide kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

An Ibis feeds on the low tide mud flats surrounding the beach at East Cape.

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

Low tide in the morning on East Cape.

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

Delicate sea grasses on low tide at East Cape. Salad perhaps?

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

Super-telephoto view due southeast across Florida Bay shows the tip of Sandy Key, about 7 miles away.
Note that Sandy Key is a bird refuge and off limits to the public.

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

Photographer on Photographer .. the closer to be to the wading birds at low tide.

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

My delicious dinner is ready! Potato, brussel sprouts, carrots & more with Octopus simmered in ShockTop Honeycrisp Apple Wheat Beer! 🙂

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part II

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It’s a shame that so may people no longer observe the night sky or ever see our Milky Way Galaxy. East Cape can be a great place for stargazing on a moonless night!

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

Our whole sky Milky Way neighborhood as seen from East Cape in the Everglades on low tide.
Bottom: Due south, note glow from Marathon & Key West on right.
Top: Due north, glow at left is the perpetual light from Miami/FLL metro areas.

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After a delicious night with a nearly constant breeze I elected to launch before dawn to avoid the bugs. Taking in the sunrise from the water is a special treat not to be missed!

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Florida Bay Kayakfari Everglades kayakfari photography Camp dawn kayak sunrise east cape flex maslan

Dawns like these can be found on Florida Bay!

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

My approximate route totaled about 28 miles.

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As I got to paddling, I recalled a conversation with Terry. He asked if I’d take the interior route back. I suppose I could, but said that no, I’d be paddling on the outside. He said something like “what for?”, it’s just open water.

I thought to myself then and there, yes! Yes, I enjoy open water,  after all I am a sea kayaker!  🙂

It’s good times paddling under that big sky, and as it were the winds dropped and it was flat and beautiful!

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Flex Maslan Oyster Keys aerial kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Aerial buzzard’s eye-view of the Oyster Keys, just outside of Flamingo on Florida Bay.
CLICK for interactive panorama – try it on your iPhone!

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I wasn’t in a rush and later paddled out by the Oyster Keys before heading back into Flamingo before noon just as the northeast winds started to pick up again.

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Here’s a fun video of the trip from Jay Thomas:

and again the EEN discussion link:

http://gladesgodeep.ning.com/forum/topics/inland-route-flamingo-cape-sable

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I’d like to say a big thanks to Connie for shuttling my vehicle to Flamingo for my return.

Much appreciated!

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Enjoy!

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To learn more about Florida Bay and the Everglades, I can recommend this informative and beautifully done book. There is a wealth of information inside along with incredible images by internationally recognized and top local Everglades photographers. If you like Florida Bay and the Keys, you will LOVE this book!

Full Disclosure: A few of my images are in it too.

Everglades Foundation Florida Bay Forever book photography Flex Maslan kayakfari kayak canoe water keys Maslin kayakfari.com dan burkhardt acclaim press published jimmy buffett fishing

“Florida Bay Forever” – Everglades Foundation book edited by Dan Burkhardt (with some photography by Flex Maslan).
Cover photo by Rob O’Neal

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© 2014 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.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.

All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

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

  1. Pingback: Go West to East Cape – paddling an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  2. I too have been through there a few times. You can also portage through Slagle ditch into Raulersons Prarie or take the side (natural) channel near the East Cape plug. That way you can don’t have to load and unload your gear. Did anyone make it into Fox?

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  3. In the book “Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers”, Glenn Simmons mentions going through here in the 1930’s. I hope a hurricane comes and closes it back off. Sorry. It’s better off with out us back in there. Paddle On!

    Like

    • That is one of the S Fl classics, first hand accounts of Gladesmen culture with strong ties to Native peoples! I’m afraid the problem(s) facing the ‘Glades aren’t as simple as just excluding people. The damage human exploitation has caused the KOE system took decades, and will take many more decades to fix – if it’s even possible. I feel for what your saying, but think that education and conservation of what’s left are the best options moving forward. There’s been a lot of salt water intrusion into that area, any hurricane would likely make that even worse .. let’s be careful what we wish for! lol

      Like

  4. Great Post! 2 questions: 1) would you consider the Gator Lake camp suitable for overnight stay? 2) what was your estimated total mileage from coot launch to East Cape camp, how many hours in total, and what was you average “effort level” of paddling?… guess that might qualify as more than two. thanks in advance, planning to make the trek later this year.

    Like

    • Hi Jax, this trip was in February, and there was still a lot of water in the Glades. Anytime after October it will be a nicer place .. ! 😉
      There used to be a camp there a long time ago, but the Gator Lake camp is not one of the official ENP backcountry campsites, so you can’t camp there as far as I know. It does make a good stop over point however.
      The inside route to East Cape is about 16 miles, and it took us about 6 hours with breaks. In retrospect we got lucky in that there was more water in the Raulerson Prairie than expected so it was really easy cruising. But this isn’t always the case, I’ve heard reports by others of that area turning into an impassable bog, so you’ll need to monitor the water levels in that area. You don’t want to get stuck there – no powerboats get in there, FYI!
      It’s a neat trip, definitely worth it!

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    • As he said there’s no official campsite on Gator Lake and there’s little in the way of open ground. I spent the night but had to share a muddy campsite with a trio of alligators ( see above video) It’s beautiful back in there, very peaceful. DO NOT rely solely on a GPS for navigation. There are no accurate and detailed charts either. I print Google Earth Satellite images and use them as my charts. Good luck if you go.

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  5. Pingback: Poling around “The Cape” at East Cape Sable in the Everglades. | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  6. I really enjoyed your piece. I found it after googling “Raulerson Prairie”. Growing up I was told that my great-great uncles on my maternal grandmother’s side had an ill-fated cattle ranching venture there. It was great to see that it wasn’t all a tall tale that my family is famous for.

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  7. Wondering if anyone has recent information re: the spoonbill pass trip out to East Cape Sable? Looks like the last posting were all in 2014. Was thinking about doing the trip in a couple weeks (Dec 23).

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  8. Pingback: A short tale about the 2016 Florida Paddlers’ Rendezvous in Flamingo! | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

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