I had been wondering if it was possible to go from Pahayokee Overlook to the airboat trail in Shark River Slough. The hope was to be able to do a one day slough trip exiting at Payhaokee; thus avoiding an overnight at Cane Patch this time of year and a 30 mile paddle home.The water is up, partially on the road to Pahayokee.
I set out yesterday on a general course of 300 hoping to intersect the airboat trail just above the beginning of Rookery branch. Straight line it is only about 5 miles or so. Plenty of water, 16" at the boardwalk. The paddling started out a little slow with some relief in the clearer areas. It started to deteriorate with more areas of thicker sawgrass. By standing up I could navigate though them; the goal being worth the effort. Well, about halfway, I got totally locked up in tall grass, climbed a tree looking for a clear way, none seen. In this same area I had come accross a tall PVC pipe in a small clearing and thought I might be onto something. Tried every direction and never got more than 100'.
Now, I have located this spot on GE as 25-27'02" / 80-48'51". The tree I climbed is in the little Cypress dome to the left. I looked in the general direction I wished to travel. Blocked from my view is an apparent AIRBOAT TRAIL about 600 ft to the left as seen now on GE. This trail seems to meander in the general directon I wanted to go with a few spots missing and then peters out entirely.
Questions for the audience;
Any info on this trail?
Is this a hopeless mission? ie is the sawgrass just to thick as you approach the slough, making it impassable without a defined trail.
Via GE, it looks a little clearer north of my path, a lot more open spots, twice the distance, but perhaps a viable exit from the slough.
A hot and rainy September Sunday afternoon is a good time for a little arm chair exploration. I know you all are thinking about the slough trips! Picking up where we left off last November there are two images. One shows some untested routes from Mainstreet to Pahokee overlook. The southern most orange color route is around the area discussed in 11/2012 above. The other routes further north were plotted based on the idea start heading east from a more northern point on Mainstreet. Most of these routes have some sloggin sections of heavy cover. Do you think some of these marl ponds are thin grass? Which route looks the most doable?
Is water pouring full bore through the new section of bridge yet, or just the "emergency culvert"?
Once the bridge is wide open, won't the water flow create paths of least resistance (paddle trails)???
The station to watch is
it's just south of the new bridge and as of today
the cycle has matched last year, no spikes.
We were in that area a couple of times this summer
surveying after the opening of the old road bed and
observed regular water levels.
They seem to be keeping the area north of Tamiami Trail high and,
rightfully so, not dumping huge volumes at a time into Everglades NP.
We will probably see a controlled rise in water levels in East Everglades.
In the meantime, top quality paddle routes have already been mapped out
and all we need now is that first break in the day time heat, usually mid-October.
This season we have even more high elevation areas to paddle during the high water months,
when the heat breaks don't waste a single day.
Saturday 23 November 2013, 08:00 - 16:00
Pahayokee Station, NP62, 252622080470201: 23Nov13 +1.87
Terry, Sue, Dan, Mark, Chris, Flex
A Maze / Roberts River Chickee paddle on the Saturday before confirmed
the lower water reports from the water stations so we knew the Pahayokee probe
would be on the lower side of water. Rains on 21 and 22 November helped
by increasing the water level from +1.77 to +1.87 but this was still down from
+2.4 in early October.
Everyone who has connected Main Street and Pahayokee have come off Main Street
and just forced their way straight down to Pahayokee. All have reported it
was very hard, too hard to be useable. There was great hope going a little
south then west along old airboat routes seen on 1990’s aerials. These probes
were unsuccessful as there is no trace of the old airboat trails today. Going
straight to Main Street has also been tried as probes from Pahayokee. These
are inviting but trapping, as you head out it looks best but gets harder and
harder as you get farther west. I've even tried to come up the old
Main Street South that's not used anymore, nope, no way,
the grass has erased any airboat trail. Interestingly the PVC poles are still
down there marking absolutely nothing.
Others who have probed this area have reported it looking more open by veering
north of the northwest track. The aerials seem to confirm that so the
methodology for this trip was to connect open areas in that track.
The highest elevation and lowest water level is from Payhayokee to two small
islands at 27.21'N and 47.92'W. We had to slog just about the entire
distance of the orange line shown on the map but the slough was obvious after
passing those islands. It turned to the classic slough paddlers navigation
of finding and connecting the shorter sparse spike rush channels in the
sawgrass. The water was plenty deep, perhaps a foot deeper than around
Pahayokee and the open channels seem to get better the more we pushed toward
Main Street. This stretch is colored yellow on the map to our stopping
point at the hammock where the line turns to the unproven blue color.
Our turn around was due strictly to running out of time, the paddling
conditions were actually improving.
I think an early October or when the water at NP62 is at its yearly peak,
about +2.5, a one-day paddle from Pahayokee and camping at Canepatch is very
do-able. There's a lot here to work with and we'll be paddling this area again when the water is up.
Looks like lots of fun in the sun!
Great photos Flex
Flex 029 Kayakfari said:
You are amazing! Way to capture the moment! and your aerials get better and better...
To you and all the other sick explorers...
Have a VERY HAPPY AND BLESSED THANKSGIVING!!!
At the peak of water in September or October we're going to
try again at the Pahayokee to Main Street route. The best route
completing the Shark Slough / Rookery Branch trail network
has got to be mapped. We documented enough on
23 November 2013 to confirm a good route, we only need
time to make the connection. The highest water to
minimize the slog in the beginning and a very early start
should provide enough time to intersect with Main Street.
2014: The year we make contact!