Everglades Exploration Network

Over the weekend of December 4-5, our team of six made the connection known as the Lost Portage, between North Harney River and Broad River. Up until now, the only route between Cane Patch and Camp Lonesome was nearly 30 miles long and took two days to travel. We have shortened this connection to about 8 miles that should take no more than 6 hours for the average paddler to complete. The actual Lost Portage passage is less than 2 miles long.

Outward Bound groups have done this before, and they are the ones who gave the Lost Portage its name. Their undocumented routes plowed straight through heavy sawgrass and they dragged their boats almost the entire way. They took two days to make the crossing and spent the night in their canoes. We have managed to find a clear, open route that can be done in less than 3 hours, and impacts the sawgrass prairie far less by following navigable water trails at every opportunity.

While every Wilderness Waterway paddler should experience the Nightmare (until now, the closest thing to a 'shortcut' between Cane Patch and Camp Lonesome), those desiring more in the way of adventure on their next trip should consider the Lost Portage. However, before you start making plans, I'd like to make it clear that this is not a route for beginners, and even experienced paddlers should be well prepared before attempting this crossing. I'd also suggest that you don't try to do this solo until you've had a chance to cross at least once with a companion. You don't want to get stuck out there alone without any help. There are areas of shallow water where you may need to get out and pull your boat, and you will encounter holes that will open up under your feet and send you chest-deep into the mud soup without any warning. There is a ridge of high sawgrass about 200 yards wide that you will need to pull your boat and gear across, and the central section of the Lost Portage runs through a series of interconnecting freshwater ponds that are difficult to follow on the ground. We will post a GPS route as soon as it is finalized, but the bottom line is that there is great potential for getting lost unless you are very observant.

Now that the 'gotchas' have been listed, I guarantee that you are in for a real treat when you finally get to cross the Lost Portage! 99% of Everglades paddlers never get past the wall of mangroves that lines the Wilderness Waterway, and the Lost Portage provides a rare glimpse into the deep sawgrass Everglades that very few ever get to see from the boat, and that you will never come close to duplicating just by driving down the park road. Being there up-close-and-personal is the way to go.

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vivian said:

 What do you think Terry, .....

I think the Lost Portage is the featured entertainment for seasoned WW travelers.

Here's how the Slough King does it, pay close attention commoners to his third day:

The first time he ever did the Wilderness Waterway his team started at the

Ernest Coe Vistor Center, yes, as in Pine Island, you know, Royal Palm Hammock

in October 2012.  They came down Taylor Slough jumped the highway at Hells Bay Trail

and spent the first night at Lane Bay Chickee.   The second day was the tourist route

through the Labyrinth to Shark River Chickee.

On the third day they paddled up Shark River, across Tarpon Bay,

through Lost Portage and all the way out to spend the third night at Highland Beach.

With the remaining members of his team spent,

they blew off the rest of the WW staying out in the gulf,

spending one more night "on some beach" then finishing up at Honky Tonk City.

So what does the King do for the 2013 season?

Ya'll watched the video of sailing a 20-foot boat down Shark Slough.

 

Rob Stevens said:

   In between incredulously telling us "But it's only a mile" John Buckley said he had done a round trip in one day, paddling 90% of the time.

Day 3. What a shame. I fear Slough King has learned how steer straight lines. Something I've never been able to do. He should try writing his name in his wake. The next step is to do it in block letters. Then he'll cover every square inch of the Glades. Shark River Chickee to Highland via the Lost Portage. WOW
 
Terry said:

Here's how the Slough King does it, pay close attention commoners to his third day:

The first time he ever did the Wilderness Waterway his team started at the

Ernest Coe Vistor Center, yes, as in Pine Island, you know, Royal Palm Hammock

in October 2012.  They came down Taylor Slough jumped the highway at Hells Bay Trail

and spent the first night at Lane Bay Chickee.   The second day was the tourist route

through the Labyrinth to Shark River Chickee.

On the third day they paddled up Shark River, across Tarpon Bay,

through Lost Portage and all the way out to spend the third night at Highland Beach.

With the remaining members of his team spent,

they blew off the rest of the WW staying out in the gulf,

spending one more night "on some beach" then finishing up at Honky Tonk City.

So what does the King do for the 2013 season?

Ya'll watched the video of sailing a 20-foot boat down Shark Slough.

 

Rob Stevens said:

   In between incredulously telling us "But it's only a mile" John Buckley said he had done a round trip in one day, paddling 90% of the time.

You know what did you all in?  The extra weight of those beach chairs.  LOL  What an awesome story!  I totally agree that I went way too fast.  FYI  According to my GPS, from North Portal to South Portal (based on coordinates provided elsewhere on this website), the actual distance is 2 miles.  Not 1.  Be sure to mention this to John Buckley next time you see him.  Actual numbers, Length: 2 miles; Elapsed Time: 7:54:45; Average Speed: 0.2 MPH.

 

Did you use a GPS at all?  I’m interested in the route you took.  Once I got to the South Portal and saw the white pole I just followed them.  They matched the aerials and it was an obvious trail.  I had also mapped Terry’s route using Vivian’s online tool called GPS Visualizer.  (Very awesome, Vivian, thanks for sharing!)  I do not want to speak for Terry, but his route seems to match up with the white poles.  Whenever I tried to deviate from the white poles, it was much harder going.  I could not get thru some of the areas Terry’s group was able to so I just went in a straight line and the trail and Terry’s route would match up again.  I also noted the faded pink ribbons in the grass area, but I did not follow them until I reached the mangrove creek, actually creeks.  I like polka dots so I followed those although I didn’t see too many ribbons because by that time it was dark and they did not show up well in my headlamp.  I went around in circles a few times before coming to a 4 way intersection with the current pouring in from the right side.  Home free, baby!  But, of course, it couldn’t just be easy, and I could turn right.  NOOOO, the current kept pushing me left and the area was almost too tight to do a 3 point (times infinity) turn.  Once I finally got turned into the current I just followed that and eventually after much ducking under fallen mangroves, I broke out into the river.  It was so beautiful!  I took my time paddling up to Camp Lonesome.

 

I’m curious that Outward Bound has been thru there, but not seen the white poles.  Did Alan say what their route is?  My biggest worry was getting lost, but as soon as I saw that white pole at the South Portal, I knew I’d have no problem.  It was pretty much a straight shot west/northwest until intersecting the mangrove creek then north/a bit northeast.  White poles all the way.

 

I previously said that I would post any photos but I changed my mind.

 

Entrance to Mud Soup photo: This is where I go chest deep in the mud soup.  I had been able to paddle & push the kayak while sitting on it (it cockpit is just too small to get in and out of a million times).  Then I got stuck so I got up and was using one half of my break a part paddle as a walking stick.  I would probe in front of me and then take a step, probe-probe-probe, step, probe-probe-probe, step, probe-probe-probe, step, fall into mud soup, which I had just probed and was firm.  Crap! my GPS is in my shirt pocket.  For the most part you could walk thru the area as shown in the photo especially if you stayed closer to the sawgrass.  Until that invisible hole opened up that is.  And there’s the white poles we’ve been talking about.  (Aside, you can skip this part) I must say that I LOVE my GPS.  It’s an older Garmin Etrex Venture HC.  It’s been on so many trips and dunked so many times and it still works.  It’s survived hiking in the UP, bouncing up and down while horseback riding, Geocaching, Fakahatchee Strand, Gator Hook, and now the Lost Portage.  I bought a new GPS for this trip and planned to use it, but Garmin doesn’t make my model anymore.  I hate the replacement.  So I just put the data on it but did not have to use it.)

 

Ridge Area photo: I have decided to call this the Drag Area instead of Ridge Area.  Because it’s a drag to have to drag your boat thru here.  I am looking back along my trail.  You can see the path my kayak has plowed thru the sawgrass.  There’s also a pole, and maybe you can see the faded pink ribbon at the top of the little dead tree.  I can’t remember how many drags this was.  3 or 4.  I scouted ahead to see how much further and it was only 1 to 2 more drags and then open water with small mangroves.  From this picture on I cannot remember what happened until I reached the mangrove creeks and knew I could get in the kayak instead of sitting on it.  I vaguely remember 2 poles right next to each other and the end of The Drag, and I think being able to mostly sit on the boat and push/paddle.  This is also the last photo I took that day.

 

As Rob said in his post, “Anyone can do it when there is water.”  So, who’s up for the challenge of a low water Lost Portage Adventure?  I’d love to read your story! :-)

Attachments:

Rob, were you and Allison at Highland Beach December 22?


    We were leaving Hog the morning of the 22nd heading up Lostmans. I think you saw Alan and Mitra (sp?) paddling a rented Grumman. I would have loved to have met you  on the Lost Portage. I picture us up to our waists in the mud while you just cruise on by with your kayak. You people who go into the mangrove tangles in kayaks and solo canoes impress the hell out of me.
Swamp Witch said:

Rob, were you and Allison at Highland Beach December 22?

   No we don't have a GPS. Alan, the Outward Bound instructor, said he had attempted the Lost Portage 8 times and succeeded 5. He says its been a while since he led a group through there. I don't know if any other OB groups have gone through since then or when the white poles went up but t was since his last time.
 
Swamp Witch said:

You know what did you all in?  The extra weight of those beach chairs.  LOL  What an awesome story!  I totally agree that I went way too fast.  FYI  According to my GPS, from North Portal to South Portal (based on coordinates provided elsewhere on this website), the actual distance is 2 miles.  Not 1.  Be sure to mention this to John Buckley next time you see him.  Actual numbers, Length: 2 miles; Elapsed Time: 7:54:45; Average Speed: 0.2 MPH.

 

Did you use a GPS at all?  I’m interested in the route you took.  Once I got to the South Portal and saw the white pole I just followed them.  They matched the aerials and it was an obvious trail.  I had also mapped Terry’s route using Vivian’s online tool called GPS Visualizer.  (Very awesome, Vivian, thanks for sharing!)  I do not want to speak for Terry, but his route seems to match up with the white poles.  Whenever I tried to deviate from the white poles, it was much harder going.  I could not get thru some of the areas Terry’s group was able to so I just went in a straight line and the trail and Terry’s route would match up again.  I also noted the faded pink ribbons in the grass area, but I did not follow them until I reached the mangrove creek, actually creeks.  I like polka dots so I followed those although I didn’t see too many ribbons because by that time it was dark and they did not show up well in my headlamp.  I went around in circles a few times before coming to a 4 way intersection with the current pouring in from the right side.  Home free, baby!  But, of course, it couldn’t just be easy, and I could turn right.  NOOOO, the current kept pushing me left and the area was almost too tight to do a 3 point (times infinity) turn.  Once I finally got turned into the current I just followed that and eventually after much ducking under fallen mangroves, I broke out into the river.  It was so beautiful!  I took my time paddling up to Camp Lonesome.

 

I’m curious that Outward Bound has been thru there, but not seen the white poles.  Did Alan say what their route is?  My biggest worry was getting lost, but as soon as I saw that white pole at the South Portal, I knew I’d have no problem.  It was pretty much a straight shot west/northwest until intersecting the mangrove creek then north/a bit northeast.  White poles all the way.

 

I previously said that I would post any photos but I changed my mind.

 

Entrance to Mud Soup photo: This is where I go chest deep in the mud soup.  I had been able to paddle & push the kayak while sitting on it (it cockpit is just too small to get in and out of a million times).  Then I got stuck so I got up and was using one half of my break a part paddle as a walking stick.  I would probe in front of me and then take a step, probe-probe-probe, step, probe-probe-probe, step, probe-probe-probe, step, fall into mud soup, which I had just probed and was firm.  Crap! my GPS is in my shirt pocket.  For the most part you could walk thru the area as shown in the photo especially if you stayed closer to the sawgrass.  Until that invisible hole opened up that is.  And there’s the white poles we’ve been talking about.  (Aside, you can skip this part) I must say that I LOVE my GPS.  It’s an older Garmin Etrex Venture HC.  It’s been on so many trips and dunked so many times and it still works.  It’s survived hiking in the UP, bouncing up and down while horseback riding, Geocaching, Fakahatchee Strand, Gator Hook, and now the Lost Portage.  I bought a new GPS for this trip and planned to use it, but Garmin doesn’t make my model anymore.  I hate the replacement.  So I just put the data on it but did not have to use it.)

 

Ridge Area photo: I have decided to call this the Drag Area instead of Ridge Area.  Because it’s a drag to have to drag your boat thru here.  I am looking back along my trail.  You can see the path my kayak has plowed thru the sawgrass.  There’s also a pole, and maybe you can see the faded pink ribbon at the top of the little dead tree.  I can’t remember how many drags this was.  3 or 4.  I scouted ahead to see how much further and it was only 1 to 2 more drags and then open water with small mangroves.  From this picture on I cannot remember what happened until I reached the mangrove creeks and knew I could get in the kayak instead of sitting on it.  I vaguely remember 2 poles right next to each other and the end of The Drag, and I think being able to mostly sit on the boat and push/paddle.  This is also the last photo I took that day.

 

As Rob said in his post, “Anyone can do it when there is water.”  So, who’s up for the challenge of a low water Lost Portage Adventure?  I’d love to read your story! :-)

So, the white pole trail was better than Terry's trail? Who put the poles there? You guys are inspiring me to do this next season .

>> Alan, the Outward Bound instructor, said he had attempted the Lost Portage 8 times and succeeded 5

I don't believe that Alan Coulter's OB groups ever attempted to actually find a viable route through the mangroves at the Lost Portage. Instead they just bushwacked through the high sawgrass north of the mangroves and tried to make a beeline for the North Portal. You can see their trails in Google Earth.

Rob, Allison and Swampwitch is this the trial you used with the white posts? That is not the trail I have plotted, used Terry's for guidance it is below that line.

   Keith. I think you are right. I think Alan just bushwacked.

Vivian, that is the trail I thought we would be using but when we got there it was above the water level of the creek and dry. I was expecting to see water at least seeping into the creek. I was guessing that the saw grass areas had a few inches of water and that the mangrove puddles had not enough and the mud too deep. That got me thinking. Maybe it was likely further up the creek that the ground of the saw grass and the mangrove creek approached each other in height, water being the great carpenter's level.

   I must be blind but I haven't seen Terry's trail on this site. I sort of assumed he didn't want to show it so people wouldn't try it unless they were really ready for it.

   Now that I know mangrove puddles are the way to go there is a route further to the east that I would like to explore as Lost Portage #2. It would be longer and probably hooks up with the North Harney River in too much of a mangrove tangle.

There is no need to bushwack. Avoid the feeling that "cutting through here would be easier". You have to follow the water. It ain't deep, but it'll float you for most of the way. Other than the ridge, you are in real water. Especially on the north end, you see some places that look right and are tempting to force into, but when you find the "real way" you'll realize that you are in a "real creek". It's a longer way, but it doesn't have to be a TOTAL beating. 

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