I started in Everglades City on my first ever over-night kayaking trip and a solo trip to boot. First day was consumed by reaching EC, getting a permit, re-thinking my route, and finally getting the kayak all loaded up and dragging it into the water.
First night at Sunday bay chickee; beautiful spot - full moon and a big shark in the early AM. Awoke early and paddled about 4 hours to Sweetwater bay chickee. Lots of open water and a rudder would have been a help.
Day 3 ended at Plate Creek. Loved Alligator Creek... saw a b-ful manatee... checked out the river behind Lost mans Five. I have to say the advice I received of staying on chickees rather than land seemed pretty sound. No vermin and no trash.
Next day stopped at Rogers River. Saw the nesting islands...really the only birds the entire trip which seemed strange. The next days paddle went very quickly down to Highland Beach where it felt good to swim in the water and wash my hair! Probably a girl thing. Visited by a Bobcat, but no raccoons fortunately (although prints abound).
The Nightmare was the next day... somehow did not hit it at the tide I had planned and had to pull the kayak over a few downed logs... fairly creepy! It was a relief to see the Harney River chickee...a new one, no longer behind the island, but out in the middle of the river. Saw lots of dolphin that PM.
Next days paddle was to Oyster bay chickee. Then the last day was supposed to end at South Joe River but I got there early and was ready to get home so I paddled on to Flamingo...not a smart move. It got windy and stormy and the bay kicked up. I ended up paddling for over 12 hours, lost my camera, got soaked, rained on (thunder rolled) and I swear I was going backwards at some point! Fortunately, when I rolled up at Flamingo two gentlemen picked up my big ole tandem kayak and plopped it on top of my car...Thank you, thank you...
And, dirty and disgusting, I drove of home.
I did consult with Everglades Dave at the Ivy House and had him drive my car from Everglades City to Flamingo while I was kayaking. Expensive, but hey, it was a once in a lifetime trip. We re-did my route making the paddle times shorter, which left a bit too much time on the chickee for my personal preference, but if the wind had kicked up any day, I would have needed the time, so better safe than sorry.
Permit from rangers
Used Johnny Malloys Wilderness waterway book and a photocopy of another book that is no longer in print... can't think of the name; great maps of the chickee locations in it.