Mahogany Hammock to Ed Brooker’s Landing via Herman Lucerne backcountry & Bill Ashley Jungles

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari aerial birds eye 360 mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Birds eye view over the Bill Ashley jungles of Everglades National Park.
CLICK for VR 360 panoramic spin around view!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Launching kayaks and canoes from Mahogany Hammock at sunrise.

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I was recently afforded the opportunity to take part in the ‘2012 Invitational’ paddle organized by Terry and Keith of the Everglades Exploration Network, pioneers of contemporary Everglades exploration. The plan: paddle from sunrise to sunset covering 15 – 20 miles of the back country that very few ever canoe or kayak, let alone even know about!

Launching off the boardwalk from Mahogany Hammock was easier than expected due to unusually high water in the Everglades thanks to the rain from (our) Tropical Storm Sandy.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Launch over Mahogany Hammock boardwalk into my  Cloud9 !

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Actual canoe route: Mahogany Hammock to Ed Brooker’s Landing with Hells Bay to the south

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Paddling out of the sunrise!

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The area we paddled in includes parts of the Mahogany Hammock Canoe Trail, the Herman Lucerne wilderness, the Bill Ashley jungles, the original ‘Whiskey Creek’. It has a colorful and infamous past and many stories are chronicled in the entertaining book ‘Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners and Skiffers’.

Our take out would be just south of the old Ed Brooker’s Landing (now overgrown), right at culvert #98.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

First of many mangrove traffic jams.

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The majority of the trip was tight backcountry paddling with frequent hand-to-hand combat with mangrove roots and stems. Lots of  sliding over obstacles and possible portaging was to be expected.  Short and/or highly rockered boats were used, even so, most everybody ended up getting pinned between roots several times! The water here has the color of strong tea, thanks to all the dissolved tannins which also add a reddish hue to the mangroves themselves!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Detail of canoe route: Mahogany Hammock and on southwards.

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We were all thankful to Terry for leading us with his expert knowledge of the area. He studies Google Earth data and scouts out possible trail leads. You see, the whole trip was done pretty much single-file line because the trails are so narrow and twisted. It was a kind of  ‘follow the leader’ – thanks to Terry!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Bladderworts springing up everywhere even through mats of Hydrilla!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Bladderwort flower.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

A 9 foot sit-on-top kayak was perfect for this kind of trip.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Lots of hand-to-hand combat in the confines of the mangroves!!

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It’s worth noting that this area has been and is criss-crossed with old trails .. if you know where to look for them!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Crossing one of the seemingly endless lagoons and ponds.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Going into another snake like creek.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

A rare moment of rest – there was a lot of territory to cover!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Detail of canoe route: Bat Trail to Whiskey Creek & pullout onto main Park road.

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Interestingly, this region is strangely devoid of wildlife. There were few fish, only an odd bird or two, not even any Turkey Vultures circling overhead, nor hardly any bugs! I suppose it must have been very different 80 to 100 years ago when people would come out here to hunt.

Still, it is the remoteness and the challenge of the tight maze-like passages that make this trip worthwhile!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Aside from mangroves, there are lots of Bromeliad type airplants in this area.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Epiphyte pseudobulbs overhead.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Broken mangrove stem .. it bleeds like people!
(not really – it’s all the tannins)

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As we had gotten a start about an hour later then planned, we were paddling in a general easterly direction towards the rising full moon with darkness settling in. Very picturesque under that clear, cool sky, it would be something else paddling this section all at night!!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Full moon rising and I’m still gelling in my kayak!

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Terry promised us a paddle from dawn to dusk, an he delivered! We ended up paddling about 16 miles total, for 11.5 hours. I was glad that I brought my gel seat pad, and was in fact gelling all day long!

We exited via an existing channel in the sawgrass rigt next to a culvert on the main park road.

Thanks to the extra high water level, I never had to exit my kayak, and in fact my feet were still dry at the end of the trip!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Last section of sawgrass as we near the main park road near the pullout.

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Terry helping to pull people out of the sawgrass!

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Another big thanks goes to Charlie of the South Florida Bush Paddlers Association for the gps track of our route!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Charlie of http://www.bushpaddlers.org pulls out!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

The pullout onto the main Park road – literally!

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A big thanks to Terry, Keith & Charlie for organizing and making sure nobody got left behind (it was the perennial joke of the day..lol) !

I’m sure all the paddlers that came out enjoyed themselves, even if tired by the end of the day. There were no complaints.

Looking forward to more exploratory trips!

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Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Mahogany Hammock Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades enp kayakfari mangroves panorama Flex Maslan

Actual route taken in relation to Everglades National Park and points of interest.

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© 2012-2015 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.

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!

🙂

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