2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Rip & Go: 10,000 Islands Loop - Everglades National Park, FL

Kayak to pocket beaches and Gulf islands at Florida's southern tip.

by: Casey Lyons

Sunday Bay Chickee (Casey Lyons)
Sunday Bay Chickee (Casey Lyons)
Florida's thieving racoons. (Lisa Densmore)
Florida's thieving racoons. (Lisa Densmore)

Take it With You
Download a printable PDF of this entire weekend.

GPS-Enabled Trip Report
See this trip on a map, download it to your phone, GPS, or computer, and more.

Key Skill: Channel Crossing
Ten- to 20-knot winds can quickly roil calm seas, turning the Gulf into a frothy, perilous waterway. Use these tips to navigate the open stretches between keys safely.

1) Assess If winds are faster than 20 knots or you see whitecaps, hug the shore.

2) Time it High tide holds the best conditions (slower currents, fewer exposed shoals and mud flats). Time your crossing's midpoint with exact high tide.

3) Plot a ferry angle (the angle you'll paddle to compensate for wind or current drift). On your map, draw a straight line from your present position to your intended destination. Then, draw a parallel line one inch long for each knot of traveling speed (average is three knots). At the distant end of that line, draw a perpendicular line to represent wind speed and direction (one inch per knot). Close the triangle to find your "ferry angle." (A)

strong>4) Line it up Pick two points on the distant shore (one in the foreground, like a bend along the shore, one farther back, like a tall tree) that are on your ferry angle. Stay on track by always keeping these points in line as you paddle. (B)

Locals Know
The raccoons inhabiting these

mangrove-knotted keys might as well be pirates. "Some of them have gotten pretty smart over the years," says Joel Beckwith, a guide with 30 years' experience in south Florida. Think those round rubber hatch covers will do it? Think again. "They can open those faster than me," Beckwith says. Secure food in boat holds, then bungee or duct-tape them shut. Even unattended drinking water is fair game, so use hard-sided containers or stow water and food together, but leave nothing out, or else. "They'll get in your wallet and steal your Social Security card," jokes ranger Joe Sterchele.

See This
West Indian Manatee

Everglades National Park is perhaps the best place on earth to see one of the 3,000 to 4,000 West Indian manatees remaining in the wild. Sea cows, which can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh 1,800 pounds, tend to congregate at river mouths, like the Chatham, where they have access to fresh water for drinking and salt water for grazing on sea grass. Look for the "manatee trail," which is the line of sand and mud they kick up during their foraging.

Camp Chat
Dubiously known as "Swamp Bandit" and "King of the Everglades," John Ashley rained murder, robbery, and moonshine on southern Florida until 1924, when he and his gang died violently at the hands of the local sheriff. Though a judge ruled the assassinations justifiable homicide, they were widely criticized as being frontier justice. Crimes are rare in the wilderness, so hikers are usually left to police themselves. Discuss: Is there such a thing as trail justice? Should there be?

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Burger King moving headquarters to Canada
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: star
Pacific Northwest
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: NicholasBell
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions