Nov.21-Nov.23, 2022 East Cape Sable Camping

I left on Monday, Nov. 21st from Flamingo Marina on a sit-on-top kayak around 9:15AM and made it to East Cape around 3PM. I camped there for two nights, blacklighting on both nights for several hours. I left East Cape on Wednesday, Nov. 23rd at 10AM and stopped at Clubhouse beach to check out the Coastal Prairie trail
for about an hour before continuing on to Flamingo, where I arrived around 4PM.

My main goal was to bioblitz the area and also leave a trail of iNaturalist observations for the paddle to and from Cape Sable. I have over 40GB of mostly photos and some audio to look through so it will probably be a while before I post everything!

All of my observations from this trip: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2022-11-21&d2=2022-11-23&order=asc&place_id=any&user_id=joemdo

My mollusk observations from this trip: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2022-11-21&d2=2022-11-23&order=asc&place_id=any&taxon_id=47115&user_id=joemdo

My blacklighting observations from this trip: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2022-11-21&d2=2022-11-23&order=asc&place_id=any&project_id=blacklighting-florida&user_id=joemdo

Planning
This was my first solo backcountry paddling camping trip so I didn't want to do anything too crazy. I had the whole week off for Thanksgiving and about two weeks before the break I started checking the weather to see if I could do some backcountry paddling. East Cape isn't a short trip, at about 11 miles each way, but it's easy to navigate since you just follow the coast. I knew from experience that wind and tides can make or break the trip so I kept an eye on the conditions until a few days before the trip and saw that it would be windy on Monday but that would help me on my way to East Cape. By Wednesday, the winds would die down and the tide would also be in my favor for a morning departure.

The last time I did this trip was in 2018 with a friend of mine named Cheeko. We also camped two nights and spent our second day exploring Lake Ingraham and MicMac Lagoon, just east of East Cape. Here is a link to my iNaturalist observations from that trip: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2018-01-01&d2=2018-01-03&place_id=any&user_id=joemdo&verifiable=any

My first backcountry trip ever was a 5 day, 4 night trip in 2013 with three friends from FIU, camping at South Joe River Chickee, Joe River Chickee, NW Cape and East Cape. I only posted a few observations from that trip since it was way before my iNat obsession: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2013-12-13&d2=2013-12-31&order_by=observed_on&place_id=any&user_id=joemdo&verifiable=any

My other backcountry paddling experiences include an overnight trip to Shark Point Chickee with Noah F and Nico S in Feb 2019 (observations: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2019-02-17&d2=2019-02-18&nelat=25.21061052385891&nelng=-80.62153358648058&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=any&swlat=24.948787620220667&swlng=-80.98957557866808&user_id=joemdo,noaboa,nicosalino)

& in Jan 2021 a long paddle from West Lake to the Lungs. Here are some videos from that trip:
https://youtu.be/39-HL5QSNhA
https://youtu.be/WSYeiLPReoQ
My iNaturalist observations from that trip: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?on=2021-01-03&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=any&user_id=joemdo

I chose to camp at East Cape because I have especially been interested in shells lately and knew it would be a good beach for shelling. I also wanted to check out the Coastal Prairie Trail near Clubhouse Beach on the way back from East Cape. I also did some research on Cape Sable and found some interesting publications and videos (https://youtu.be/TLD4sbrY-8A). I realized how it is particularly at risk to sea level rise and will be one of the first areas to be swallowed up by the Gulf of Mexico.

Gear
-Sit-on-top Tandem Kayak (Vibe Skipjack 120T (green white and light blue)
-Two kayak paddles
-Nikon D7200 DSLR, 300mm f/4 lens w/1.4x teleconveter, 105mm f/2.8 macro lens with 2x teleconverter, Flash
-Ricoh WG-30W point and shoot camera
-2 Samsung Galaxy S7 Active phones (I really like the cameras on these phones so I have two)
-Amazon Fire Tablet (for bat recording)
-Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro bat detector
-2 Holux GPS loggers
-8 USB battery packs
-3 DJ blacklights

Food & water
-2 loaves of Dave's Killer Bread
-5 hard-boiled eggs
-5 cans of sardines
-5 nature valley bar packs
-5 bananas
-1 jar sunflower seed butter
-2.5 gallon water jug (from Publix)
-2 40oz aluminum water bottles

Day 1
I left home a little after 6:20AM and got to Flamingo around 8:00AM. I unloaded and re-organized all of my gear on the kayak and was finally on the water around 9:00AM. It had been raining all morning and several manatees were drinking water dripping down from the marina. There was also a good amount of wind as the forecast said, blowing around 10+ knots but out of the east, which was helpful for me. There was light to heavy rain throughout my paddle to East Cape and some of my gear got wetter than I hoped but nothing was damaged.

I took an hour-long break after around 3 hours/6 miles of paddling and photographed my first shells of the trip, including two target species, the rose-petal tellin and angelwing. I tried venturing into the coastal prairie habitat just north of where I landed but there were no trails and I was worried about running into a cold pygmy rattlesnake, which are known to be common in this habitat.

I carried on to East Cape, which was another 5 miles and took me a little under 2 hours. The wind had picked up and I stayed a quarter-mile offshore to take full advantage, paddling hard to catch some of the small waves. While paddling in I also snapped some photos of a flock of birds hanging around the sandbar near the small inlet east of East Cape.

After landing, I set up my tent and organized all of my gear inside. It was still cloudy and soggy so I couldn't dry anything yet. I then hiked out to the inlet a bit before sunset, checking for birds in the dunes and nearby trees but overall trying to get out to the inlet before the sun went down. The tide was dropping and a nice mudflat was exposed. It was well populated by different sandpipers and I saw my first crocodiles of the trip. I set up my blacklighting sheet about a one minute walk from my tent when I got back. It wasn't super productive, maybe due to some lingering wind, but I still had a decent showing of insects and kept the lights on until around 10:30PM. I would've probably tried to sheets if it hadn't been such a wet day/evening.

After turning out the blacklights and shaking the bugs off the sheet, I looked up at the sky again and the stars will still hidden by clouds so I finally went to sleep.

Day 2
I had big plans for Day 2, although I had a feeling I was too ambitious in wanting to hike all the way to Middle Cape. I woke up around sunrise and was surprised to see two lesser nighthawks flying back and forth along the dunes. They are known to winter in some spots in South Florida but I didn't know they'd be down here! Because the tide was coming up, I decided to do some shelling and this proved to take up a lot of time. There was a lot to see and I even employed a technique I learned from an iNat user named Susan, which involved using kneepads and elbow pads to crawl along the sand for a closer look at the shells.

Day 3

I will be adding more to this journal post, including the conditions/weather and how the trip went overall. I will hopefully also post some videos to youtube over the next week or so but I'm prioritizing adding my observations first! Here's a link to my channel in case you want to see subscribe to see some videos about this trip & other nature videos about South Florida: https://youtube.com/@joemdo_southflorida

Posted by joemdo joemdo, November 24, 2022 22:41

Comments

What a sweet trip to an area that is not explored often enough! Really, really great stuff. I'm working with others in the NPS to ensure that we get iNaturalist observations like these into the hands of park managers when they make decisions. Thank you so much for all you to do BioBlitz around South Florida!

Posted by juddpatterson 9 days ago (Flag)

Thanks Judd! I had a blast out there. It's taking me longer than I expected to post everything but I am happy to contribute what I can and it's nice to hear the observations will be useful to the park :-)

Posted by joemdo 9 days ago (Flag)

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments