In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Everglades National Park and its partners proudly hosted the Everglades Wilderness Writing Expedition! This program engaged 10 aspiring writers and journalists, ages 18-25, on an exploration of wilderness, self-discovery and environmental writing. These aspiring writers embarked on the journey of a lifetime to discover the beauty and complexity of the Everglades wilderness.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Journal Entry: Just Jotting Down Emotions
“I have no idea what time it is but it’s night. My fingertips are a little cold and my nose reminds me of a puppy’s. Today has been challenging…successfully challenging.”
It was officially the first day of the expedition. I came with my book bag packed and ready to go. They – the Outward Bound leaders- told me to unpack everything and to take half of what I thought I needed. When we repacked I had one set of clothes for night and one for day. They called them wet clothes and camping clothes.  I also packed one extra shirt and shorts for just in case. That was it besides my inhaler, epipen, benydryl, and eczema cream and all that good stuff.
I wish I hadn’t listened to them when they said there was no need to pack my comfort food because during my times of frustration I missed good food the most.
Complicated Processes
There’s this process of packing and unpacking the canoes that’s extremely complicated. First you have to slide the wooden platforms/boards into the canoes as a base. Next you have to make sure the weight of each canoe is evenly distributed. Each canoe had two water jugs, the paddlers luggage, two paddles, food, gear and just about everything else that would fit. When that’s all done you spend your merry day canoeing. Then night falls and everything has to be undone except, this time you’re still on water. We had 6 canoes in all with two people to a canoe, one had three. After tying the canoes together and anchoring ourselves each even canoe piled its items into the odd canoes (yes there are still people in these canoes). Why? To get to the wooden boards.

Board Birthing Photocred: Sabrina Diaz
Board Birthing
Photocred: Sabrina Diaz

The person in the bow, or front, of the canoe had two options to get them out. They could either set themselves in a baby-birthing position which is where we got the term “birthing the boards” or they could stick their legs straight out and pull the board up. Both options left you in awkward positions as you slid the board that was twice as long as your body up with your neck twisted to the side and sight momentarily gone.  The boards were then lined against the backs of the canoes and the same process was repeated with the odd boats. After all of that everything is repacked and the boards are placed on top and tied securely so that we have space to move around. The first time it took us over 2 hours to complete.
Nature’s Calling
Throughout the day we also had to learn how to pee in an unstable canoe. We were all shy at first until we realized that we could’t hold it in forever. We devised a plan where if someone had to pee they would announce it and everyone would look the other way and sing. That didn’t last too long because soon found out that throughout our journey we were bound to look around at one point and accidentally see someone peeing. We’re all human beings and we all had to pee so pretty soon we just learned to answer natures call without too much hesitation.
Testy Waters
I wanted to quit. I really, really, really wanted to quit. It was my first real time canoeing, the winds were blowing our canoes away from our destination and every time we looked around we realized we either hadn’t made much ground or we were going in the opposite direction completely and the place we started from was in front of us instead of behind.  2 hours later a place that should’ve taken maybe 30-45 minutes to paddle was still far from our reach. So in frustration I started saying “1, 2, dip. 1, 2, dip” so that our strokes would be in sync. That was the only way we would beat the wind and  the opposing current. In a few  minutes we started passing the other two stragglers and we were no longer the last ones. A smile spread across my face as I realized that it wasn’t impossible but at the same time I was left a bit discouraged and afraid of what more would come if this was only the first day.
If it wasn’t for the stars, the millions of beautiful stars and the beautiful moonlight, I don’t think I would’ve slept well that night.

No comments:

Post a Comment