Pahayokee to Main Street – probing into the Shark River Slough

Part I

A path to water!

Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Panoramic from Pahayokee overlook – let’s go paddling!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe sawgrass paddling

Beautiful panorama of endless Everglades praries .. available for purchase.
CLICK for color version interactive panoramic – try it on your iPhone!

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Pahayokee (Pa-hay-Okee)  is a Seminole Native American word meaning “Grassy Water”, and is how they referred to what we call the River of Grass – the Everglades. Today Pahayokee refers to a boardwalk and scenic overlook over the Everglades grass prairies and the Shark River Slough. The Pahayokee Overlook is itself part of a large Hammock, just off the main Park road in Everglades National Park.

For Glades paddlers, Pahayokee presents interesting possibilities due to it’s close proximity to “Main Street” on the Shark River Slough. The so called Main Street is an airboat trail that runs straight down the middle of the slough and connects directly into Bottle Creek and Rookery Branch, which in turn lead to the Canepatch back country campsite. Thus in theory, it should be possible to paddle from Pahayokee to Canepatch in one day. Also, if such a connection could be made, it could mean an alternate  trip exit for those doing a trip down the Shark River Slough.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari satellite Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Main Street in white and our route in yellow in relation to Everglades National Park.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari satellite Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Intersect of our route in blue and Main Street on the slough. Actual traveled route in yellow.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark satellite river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Our approximate route from Pahayokee to a large hammock about half way to Main Street on the Shark River slough.

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This was the premise for a day paddle organized by Terry Helmers of the Everglades Exploration Network. There have been successful brute-force attempts to connect these points in the past, but from what Terry says “it was just ugly”. There have also been aborted attempts along a southerly route towards the slough. Terry’s approach was to map out a more northerly route to connect with Main Street (read detailed discussion).

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Early morning launch from the Pahayokee overlook in the Everglades.

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The start was a bit rough..

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Slough slogging off Pahayokee.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

“Where’s the water?”

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Straight out the gate, so to speak, water was low and we had to slough slog long sections. We kind of expected this, and hoped that the water would gradually deepen as we approached closer and closer to the Shark River slough.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Dragging boats, slogging through the sawgrass prairies of the Everglades.
CLICK for superwide tele – panorama!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Terry says .. are we having fun yet?

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Water depth ranged from near zero to close to 2 feet. The sawgrass prairies have many holes or deeper pockets. Many of these are connected via “Gator crawls”, barely perceptible trails in the grass made by Alligators as they move from place to place in the Everglades. This is their kingdom after all!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Map/GPS check near a small hammock on the fringes of the Shark River slough.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak spider grass paddling

A spider on Spike Rush blade in the Everglades.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Swamp Lilly bulbs.

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Near a small hammock, in a deeper pocket we came upon a Florida Softshell turtle resting just under the surface.

Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak turtle grass paddling

The softshell turtle in about two feet of water.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak turtle eye grass paddling

Here’s looking at you .. kid – Florida softshell turtle!

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This turtle was remarkably relaxed and did not seem to mind my presence!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak turtle grass paddling

Florida Softshell turtle has nostrils on the tip of the snout.

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The sawgrass here grows only 2 to 3 feet, so it’s not too bad. I had half-finger sailing gloves and got a few small cuts on the tips of my fingers. At this size they only feel like paper cuts, but sawgrass is razor sharp!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Passing by a Teepee-like grass formation.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Barely floating in about 6 inches of water on a sawgrass prairie.

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I have to say that the combination of a narrow hull plastic sea kayak (16ft x 22″) and a (very) stout Greenland storm paddle (short stick) worked great. The kayak easily sliced through the vegetation, and the short stick functioned well mostly as a push pole. Thanks to this I slogged the least among the group! For the shorter stretches of actual paddling, I just used a sliding stroke. I brought along a normal size Greenland stick but the water never got deep enough to use it. C’est la vie!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe saw grass paddling

At the edge of the slough there’s a mix of spikerush and sawgrass to paddle through.
CLICK for superwide panoramic!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe sawgrass paddling

Vast expanses of sawgrass prairie in the Everglades.
CLICK for fullscreen panorama – Kayakfari ART is also available for purchase.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Paddling through the deeper Spikerush fields.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe sawgrass paddling

Hand to hand combat in the sawgrass!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Dwarf cypress in the slough.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

A distant line of sawgrass and cypress trees.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

“Whistling Cypress” ..  in the slough.
Kayakfari ART is available for purchase.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

What’s this a Swamp Foot sighting in the bush?? 
Note the forward-leaning gait and long arm swing – see for yourself! 😉

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Approaching closer to Shark River slough the water got deeper and we were able to paddle again.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Paddling on the Shark River slough in the Everglades.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak snail grass paddling

Empty Apple Snail shell floats on a bed of periphyton.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Apple Snail eggs on Spike Rush blade.

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On the Shark River slough itself it was good to see lots of periphyton mats all around, a sign of clean water in the River of Grass!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river aerial photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Lunch break on the slough, dragonfly view!

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While periphyton  doesn’t look pretty, it doesn’t really have any scent to speak of and isn’t slimy either. It just falls apart between your fingers. Paddling through it in a kayak inevitably results in chunks of it being deposited on deck, which can be irritating at times. It’s easy to clean up when wet, but once it dries it tends to stick well!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river aerial photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

The aerial view from the top on the Shark River slough.

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Being out on the Everglades prairies or sloughs I get a feeling of freshness. The air is pure and breezes smell really good! There’s nothing but endless grass and a few island hammocks on the horizon. Up above is a great big sky. It’s a neat place! 🙂

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

The Shark River slough .. provides for a tranquil lunch setting.
Kayakfari ART is available for purchase.

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Standing up in the 22 inch wide sea kayak was easy as long as there was some vegetation around the boat and I could use the Greenland stick for support.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Standing in my sea kayak, starring at that big Everglades sky!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

This 16 ft plastic sea kayak worked great on the Everglades sawgrass prairies!

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At this point we determined we were just about half way to Main Street in the slough. It had taken hours to get this far with such low water levels. We decided to turn back, although the water was deep enough from here on. We were just running out of daylight! We made it through the most difficult parts as-is, so with higher water levels we feel confident in reaching the Main Street intersect on a future trip!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe sawgrass paddling

Punching out through a sawgrass channel into a delicious sun shower..

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Sun shower over sawgrass and hammock in the Everglades.

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It’s great to experience a range of weather conditions out in the Glades!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Watching the rain showers passing by on the prairies of Shark River slough.
Kayakfari ART is available for purchase.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak rainbow grass paddling

Resultant rainbow from the sun shower.

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Catch the Rainbow!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe saw grass paddling

CLICK for fullscreen panoramic – Kayakfari ART is available for purchase.

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Pushing on back!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

“Did someone say water?”

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Returning back to the Pahayokee boardwalk we noticed a slight increase in water! Later, checking the water level data of the NP62 water station at Pahayokee confirmed this.  Historical data also shows that the highest water this year had been at 2.4ft vs the 1.9ft we were paddling. That half a foot is all that’s needed to float boats!

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river aerial photo panorama Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

Aerial 360 view from the other side of the Pahayokee overlook boardwalk.
CLICK for spin-around panoramic – try it on your iPhone!

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Adventurous Miami Herald writer Sue Cocking was also on this trip, read her account here!

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In the end we “paddled” close to 7 miles. Most of this was sliding over the slick vegetation and full on slough slogging, pulling boats! Maybe 20% was actually spent floating and paddling. The trip was a success in that we were able to establish a base for the water level at Pahayokee, and proved Terry’s route will work with just a bit more water. Also, as anticipated, the water does get deeper the closer we got to the center of Shark River slough.

I had a great time photographing this amazing Everglades imagery – with many great additions coming to Kayakfari ART !

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Flex Maslan Pahayokee Everglades kayakfari Shark river photo Slough Kayak Canoe grass paddling

The view from the Pahayokee overlook – where we’d just come out of.

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Lastly, we all agreed that we had a really great crossfit workout!

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z End!

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© 2013 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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3 comments on “Pahayokee to Main Street – probing into the Shark River Slough

  1. Pingback: Probing into the River of Grass: Pahayokee to Main Street – (Shark River Slough – Everglades) | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  2. Pingback: She’s a whole lotta Kayak – A tribute to Rosie and all the plus sized kayaks out there! | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  3. Pingback: Paddling and exploring South Florida’s wilderness – the sloughs of the Everglades! | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

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