Shell Key, sans háček

I had no luck finding a háček on short notice for last night’s departure, so I turned Rastaflage backwards and paddled the big expedition-style canoe solo. The wind was still cold and brisk, blowing north-northwest right into the launch at Ft. DeSoto, but I was confident that the outgoing tide would provide some relief–which proved true when I reached the channel.

It was Ellen’s first time paddling to Shell Key, day or night, and I tried to keep in mind how disorienting it felt the first time I made the trip without the advantage of daylight. She and Rick did just fine, overcoming any fears of the dark horizon ahead and choppy waters surrounding us. The stars above and twinkling bioluminescence spinning off our paddles were fine distractions, and they were trumped by the blood-red harvest moon that rose enormously behind us. My camera was stowed, so I didn’t snap a photo, but I hope some of you readers got to see the spectacular moonrise last night!

We passed in stealth-mode the flickering campfires of local spring-breakers whose company we wished to avoid. Thankfully, they were set up along the southern edge of the key. We slid by unnoticed, en route to the elbow where it turns north at the Gulf of Mexico, dragged our boats up into the sandy patches among the sea oats, and set up camp. The rest of the night and following morning are better shared in photos…

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