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It appears as if Florida was the destination for all of us looking for an epic “Journey.” Not only were James, Drew, Jory, George, and Lauren paddling the Everglades, but I was exploring the Lower portion of the Florida Keys, equipped with a 14’ Jackson Journey over my spring break. As a component of the High Adventure Travel Class in the Parks and Recreation Management Program at Western Carolina University, two fellow students and I had to plan and execute a personal adventure trip. With this very open ended assignment, we decided to forego paddling the Whitewater Rivers of the southeast for the warm, flatter ocean waters of southern Florida.



With the winter being brutally cold in Western NC, Florida seemed to be a perfect option. We would be required to carry 15 L of water per person, a total of 50 L including water for cooking. Camping in amongst the mangrove tress would be done with the aid of our Eno Hammocks and Pro Flys. Our other equipment included fishing rods, snorkeling gear, a Jet Boil stove, and enough food for the three of us to feast for an entire week. Dry bags and all were easily stashed in the bow and stern compartments of the Journey, providing ample space for all of my gear. The small day pouch behind the seat was where a compass, multi-tool, and bottle of sunscreen were stashed as well as a spare pair of sunglasses. The bungee straps on the deck also enabled me to transport snorkeling gear and other consistently wet equipment outside and away from the dry necessities for camp; no one enjoys a wet sleeping bag.

Over the course of the week we experienced a variety of water and environmental conditions ranging from glassy open water crossings with no winds, to 25 knot head winds and 4 foot seas, to the tight mangrove channels of the outermost Gulf side keys. The 14’ Journey excelled as we paddled through the interior of the Snipe and Mud Keys, with its shorter length making for easy turns in the tight channels. The shorter length also made handing high seas easier, being more responsive to turning as the waves came rolling in. When needed, the Smart Track rudder system made the Journey track like a tactical missile from island to island, with a simple push of the toe pedals turning the rudder, and in turn the course of the kayak.

The outfitting in the Journey is simply the best, like the rest of the Jackson fleet. The Journey was snug as a glove. Being properly fitted in a boat makes an enormous difference in how the craft paddles. Being able to really get the Journey on edge, so much so that the cockpit would take on water without a skirt, dramatically improved the boats performance in the more open waters.

I have never been a huge fan of backpacking…carrying all of my supplies on my back was never appealing. With the Journey, however, I was able to experience the same self-support wilderness involvement as on a multi-day backpacking trip. I have affectionately been calling this discipline yakpacking (same concept, just in a kayak). For anyone looking to explore distant, untouched locations via the planet’s water ways, there is no better way that from the seat of a Journey.

Many thanks to my companions, Ben David and Troy, for the photos of the trip.