Darwin's place, A ground campsite on the Wilderness Waterway in Everglades National Park is around a twenty-five mile boat ride southeast from Chokoloskee (the nearest civilization). It's one of the few sites where you can camp on solid ground as where most of the sites on the waterway are Chickie's, the elevated wood platforms built over open water. The site originally a Calusa Indian shell mound was later inhabited by different settlers and the last was Arthur Darwin, a recluse, lived there into the early 1950's growing bananas. He was the last inhabitant to live in ENP. It's now just a small clearing with a crumbling foundation from his house, enclosed by Gumbo Limbo and other trees including palms and is thick with ferns and vines. Surrounding the site are some mangrove islands and some large shallow bays connected by creeks and rivers. This was my fourth time camping there and it's one of my favorites mainly for the normally great fishing and the remoteness. The night sky there is beyond description. As awesome as it is to camp there for a few days, one can only imagine how one could have lived and survived there in that environment.
One of the reasons this campsite is chosen is that's it is protected from most any bad weather as was the case this time. Regrettably with this cold spell we've had a major fish kill throughout the state and this place was no exception. It was a very sad site to see so many dead fish, especially the larger snook and tarpon. This was a fishing camping trip and it wasn't for not trying by everyone but only a few trout and ladyfish were caught. (Since getting back yesterday I've already heard some good reports of good catches of trout and redfish again around the outside islands).
The guys on this trip were friends and family meeting here in the Everglades from four different states for a getaway break. So few get to see and experience the remote parts of the Everglades first hand and even considering the poor fishing I think everyone really enjoyed themselves being where we were.
Brian, Don, Ron and Charles
Heading out from camp to do some morning fishing