I decided to canoe the Paddlers’ Waterway for three main reasons. They are:

1. The Convenience Factor: The northern boundary of the Everglades is literally just miles away from the southern terminus of the Florida Trail. Given that I’d already decided to thru-hike the Florida Trail and will be so close to the Everglades, it is extremely convenient for me to do the Paddlers’ Waterway. I already have a plane ticket to get me there and I already have time blocked out for an adventure, all I need after that is a little extra planning. Once I looked into it, this trip seemed too convenient to pass up.

2. The Adventure Factor: The Everglades will be very unfamiliar territory to me. I’ve never done a canoe trip of more than a couple miles, I’ve never been to the Everglades, and I’ve never even used a nautical map to navigate by. The Paddlers’ Waterway will take me pretty far out of my comfort zone and that’s precisely why it appeals to me. Despite the apparent challenge of taking on such a foreign endeavor, it helps to keep in mind just how close the Everglades are to civilization. Just as mariners of old navigated by the North Star, today’s boaters can use the glow from the city lights Naples, to the north, and Miami, to the east, to roughly orient themselves.

3. The ‘Stereotypical Activity’ Factor: My main reason for going to Florida – hiking – is not something that Florida is particularly well known for. But if you’re interested in canoeing through subtropical wetlands, there’s nowhere else in the U.S., maybe even the world, that can stand up to the Everglades.