Everglades Exploration Network

Hi everyone. I’ve been visiting your site for several months and wish to thank you for providing some great information and entertainment.

I wanted your thoughts and experiences with chicken etiquette.

How do you handle people at your campsite after you have just paddled 10-15 miles and they have their boats tied up to the chicken and gear spread out? Or, how about the fishing guide who drops a client off to use the head at break of dawn and then proceeds to net cast for bait? Once I had a camp set up on Picnic Key, starting my dinner and enjoying the sunset only to have a boat pull up and start to take on firewood, using a chainsaw!

I would bet there are more scenarios that I haven’t even thought of yet.

It’s not always like that but often enough to make me want to learn how best to deal with it. It can sure blow an otherwise great trip or at least a great day.

I am in the process of planning and setting up a 5 night trip for a January/February time frame. Looking at a loop trip out of Flamingo depending on what the weather is doing. The last two years I spent my ENP vacation planted in the Flamingo campground due to weather issues. I hope to tap into you folks for some advice and questions. The Chickee and ground camp issues have always bugged me and thought you folks could throw some advice my way.



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Rob, it has always bugged me when I am camping at a chickee and a powerboat shows up and those on board get out to use the porta john sometimes walking through my platform to get to it. Some of these guys are quite rude and don't even say a thing as they tramp through your gear while you are cooking or trying to relax. It's almost as if you are paying for a hotel room and someone breaks into your room to use your bathroom, LOL!

I've asked the rangers and have written the park on this but they have no way to control this issue. One suggestion I had was that a lock number be assigned to permits enabling only people permitted to use the lock code at the porta john. It is unfortunately something we have to deal with. These past two seasons have been especially bad at the north end because the honey barge has not been making the necessary rounds because of engine malfunction and the main guy out with a bad back. When permitted campers and everyone else in the backcountry stopping to use these porta johns it is extremely unsanitary to open up a toilet seat and have a mound so high you can't even use it. Then you have to find a place at the campsite

Chainsaws are not allowed in Everglades National Park. But do you really want to confront someone with a chainsaw while on your tranquil vacation?

If you get to a campsite and there is someone there before you that does not belong. Let them know you have a permit for the site. Keep the park number on your phone if they give you any problems. Most just get up and leave or beg to stay if you let them. On a chickee they have to leave.

What really iritates me are those Outward Bound kids that show up in the middle of the night with their noisy canoes setting up and waking everyone up. What's worse is they always somehow manage to pitch their weird net and cocoon sleeping system about 4 inches from my tent! Has happened about 3 of the times I've been at Watsons :-( I and all the fishermen at Watsons just love to get up at 3 am and make alot of noise on my way out of the campsite to repay them.

Better to let some stuff just go while on vacation and then write the park with your concerns. Or post it here to get it out of your system.
On my kayak camping trips I've started to carry WAG BAG (see link below) that have worked out very well. I have also started to use then even when I camp at ground sites. A heavily used ground site can handle only so much buried waste.

Not to embarrass Vivian, but having done dozens of camping and paddling trips with her, I find her demeanor and ability to diffuse potentially bad situations to be the model of behavior from which we all can learn. It seems there is a prevailing us vs them mentality (I mean kayak/canoe vs powerboat mentality) that is easy to have because of the obvious differences between the groups. I am sure everyone on this website has many stories of bad encounters (chainsaw users, rude behaviour usually accompanied with alcohol, loud music, campfires above the tide line, etc etc) with other people. One thing I have noted is this, I have seen as much or more bad behaviors among kayakers or canoeists than powerboaters. And on the flipside, I have been the recipient many times of the good will of powerboating fishermen (hauling our garbage, offering water or other beverages, providing information on specific water conditions and routes, etc).

Everyone is out there to have fun and often powerboaters do not have the mindset to be empathetic toward kayakers or canoeists and often do not realize that they are taking more space than they should. As soon as that tired kayaker pulls up looking for an unloading spot and a campspot only to find a powerboat and equipment in the way, the kayaker must grit his or her teeth and try to avoid a negative confrontation. More often than not, a little 'hello' with some friendly small talk is the only gentle nudge necessary to get your camp neighbors to move their boat and equipment without a fuss. As soon as you behave as if you are pissed off and have no use for such camp neighbors, you are in for a sleepless night at the very least. Case in point, I and another kayaker (2 women) spent a night on Willy Willy which has a camping area not much more than a 1000 sq feet. We shared it with 6 male powerboaters, their 3 powerboats and about 999 sq ft of tent space among them. Not to mention the flood light on the dock, the 500+ gallons of water, beer, and gas. We greeted them with a friendly, but tired hello and they quickly accomodated us. In the end, these guys were respectful, let us dispose of our garbage in their trash bags, offered us cold beverages and were for the most part quiet. It was a pleasant evening on a very very crowded campsite. But if we had come up to the campsite angry at our situation and these guys, it could have been an entirely different evening.

Long story short, be reasonable and accept that there are always going to be obnoxious or thoughtless individuals out there and there isn't much you can do about it at that instant. But also accept that most people are not going to be obnoxious and thoughtless, most are the opposite. If you see an illegal act (chainsaw, illegal fish catch, campfire in backcountry or above tide line on beach to name a few) report it to a ranger as soon as you see one. Avoid confronting the individual if you think your safety could be compromised.

Great perspectives Connie. Here's one Chickee portapotti that may have self destructed from too many flammables. Name that chickee site!

Someone must have put a bit too much hot sauce on their canned beans. Judging from the mangrove branch on the left, I'm guessing this is Plate Creek chickee! HAHA
Coincidentally (or maybe not a coincidence), Darwins potty burned up about the same time.
We have a winner! I believe this chickee site used to be a fuel dock.

Water Tower. I have a slide of it from 1975. It was removed by 1977. I took slides
of the house that was on the north side of the bay as well. There's also a sunk
barge on the west side of the island.
Hey TFA, I think you are correct, it was apparently a boat landing for a development company at one time.
Hey Connie, I was there! It was a water tower left over from the development
projects and later used by the houses that were in that bay and Lostmans
Bay 5. The park service just cut the top (the tank and about 15 feet) off and
made the chickee out of the base between 1975 and 1977. I climbed it and
have a slide of me standing next to the tank at the top.
There was a house at the location of what is now Lostmans Bay 5
campsite and a large houseboat kind of permanently docked (half sunk)
in front of the campsite. There was a large well built house on the north
side of Plate Creek Bay, they did a good job removing it, I looked for remains
of that house in 2002 but couldn't find anything. The barge that is now a shipwreck
just on the west side of the island that Plate Creek Chickee is at was semi-afoat
in 1975 and the canal in 1975 was just as grown in as it is today.
Terry, great historical info! I sure would love to see those pictures if you could find a way to post them?

So the development offices that Connie mentioned were there before the water tower. Or was there never a development office?
ENP is going to digitize all my slides and archive them with documentation.
I was careful to write down a lot of notes on my trips so the slides have
exact dates and documentation. I'm working with the park to put all that
stuff in archives, I was planning to get more of that done this summer
but work at Biscayne piled up and took over. I'll get back at it - I need
to, the slides are ektachrome and kodachrome and, of course, the
ektachrome slides are fading. As we determined last summer the WW isn't
very old and the 1975 trip was only 7 years after the waterway was
established. So far it's the earliest documented visitor through trip.
There weren't many paddlers back then and you think the public doesn't
know what you're talking about today?, try talking Wilderness
Waterway back then. Even the rangers were mystified.
This kind of stuff will make the WW50 that much more interesting,
maybe including a slide show narrative: A trip done on Tang, Spam,
Darwin was still there, rangers were at the Lostmans River Ranger
Station, no permits just signing a log at each campsite and camping
at Onion Key. But a very good thing exists, ya know how everybody talks
it was better in the Good Old Days?, the NPS has done a really good
job with the WW. Overall I think the WW is better today especially
with the protected status all the way to Collier Seminole State Park.
Add to this the products available today even in just a regular grocery store
and a through tripper is in for an unbelievable experience.
Thanks Connie and Vivian, well put.

My feeling is that tolerance of unacceptable behavior escalates that behavior and for me at least is, well, unacceptable. Don’t know what one person can do about it, but I can’t seem to accept it. Gets harder the older I get. Seeing these pics and reading peoples accounts on this and other websites makes me wonder if there is still anywhere that we can truly escape to anymore? I run into the same issues with our local and State parks. I naively thought the ENP would be an exception.

At first I thought that we needed more park police action but now I think it's not a matter of the park service doing more monitoring and enforcement rather it’s a need to raise awareness and educate people who use the park on what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Couldn't hurt.

As far as the prevailing “us vs. them mentality”, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if all powerboats were ban from the entire park, save the park services. Not that I have a problem with the owners of powerboats, but rather the powerboats themselves. A big difference and still a big controversy. Your right, just because you paddle doesn’t mean you’re not capable of being inconsiderate, rude and unsavory.

So far, I like vivian’s idea; “Better to let some stuff just go while on vacation and then write the park with your concerns. Or post it here to get it out of your system.”

I hope my January trip finds the weather fair, the people tolerable and the park in good condition. Seems you have a great group of people here!

Thanks for taking the time to post.

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