Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Mud Lake-Which Way Out?

Friday February 27, 2015
Collier-Seminole State Park
Naples, Florida



We had thought we would set out early for Mud Lake yesterday in order to arrive at high tide, 10:23AM.  But when we got up the weatherguessers were saying 100% chance of rain, specifically thunderstorms, beginning at 10am and lasting until mid afternoon.  So much for that.  Of course it never did rain although it was dark and dreary all day. 

Friday would work better since high tide was at 12.32PM even though there might be more people out.  Of course today when we get up the guessers have switched their rain and thunderstorm forecast to today.   Still dark and dreary.  We debate and decide to just go for it knowing they may well push it back to tomorrow.  So I get out my kayak skirt and we both put on our kayak boots and raincoats.  Having brought all this gear with us, we are pretty sure it will not rain today either.

All that debating means that we aren’t in the water until 11am but that’s ok.  We paddle straight down the canal without stopping,  passing markers 57, 54, 53, 51.   We’re on our way to 47.   Not a great day for paddling but any day on the water is a good one.



My favorite part of the river so far is between Markers 53 and 51 where it becomes a mangrove tunnel. The water is glassy and still. The world is reflected. I slow down looking into the mangrove roots. What a tangle they are.





The only wildlife I see is up in the sky when a flock of pelicans fly over.  It drizzles on and off.







The wind has picked up a little when we reach marker 47 and do not follow it to the left as the arrow instructs us.  There is no sign to Mud Lake.  You have to know where it is.  I suspect they don’t want people who don’t understand how shallow and subject to tides it is think they can go there without information.  We know where to go at this point and so we do.





It is about 2 miles to the Mud Lake turn from the boat basin and after looking at the much photocopied map David thought it was about 2 miles to Mud Lake beyond here.   It turns out to be less than a mile I think until we see the lake spread out before us.   It’s very big.  We had thought we might circumnavigate the shoreline as we often do in lakes but with the tide question and its size we think better of it.   Even my camera with its sometimes frustrating wide angle lens can’t get 1/4 of it in this picture.




In the picture below, I’m no where near the middle of the lake and David is over by the shore.  Can you even see him there in his orange kayak from this distance?  He’s smack dab in the middle.








The wind is picking up, I head for a mangrove island and once I’ve gone around it, I decide I’d better go back in the direction of the inlet so I don’t lose track of where it is.  Just as there is no marker for the turn into the lake, there is no marker for the turn back out of it.




On the way there, I think I see a flock of birds on a sandbar to my left.  The sky, the water, everything is gray and so are they so I’m not sure what I’m seeing.   I attempt to paddle closer and get stuck on the mud bottom at least twice so I give up and use my zoom.  Perhaps it is the totally gray day but that’s how they look, totally gray and I can’t figure out who they are.   They look like sanderlings but their bills look too long. Perhaps they are Dunlins in their winter plumage. They don’t look big enough or mottled enough for willets.   Help me out Judy. 






Ibis are working the shore line and I notice the water is beginning to rush through the lake.  High tide is over and the water level is beginning to drop.  I don’t see David.  Uncharacteristically I have brought my phone with me which is a thing I never do.  I don’t think I ever have brought it kayaking so I don’t know what made me put it in my pocket today.   Also amazingly, out here in the mangroves there is enough signal.  I call him and he says he’s heading back so I start up the inlet just floating along waiting for him to catch up. 

The wind picks up so I have to do some paddling and still he isn’t here.   I call him again.  He tells me he’s coming up what he thinks is the inlet but from his description, it isn’t.  I describe where he needs to be.  He says he’ll go there and call me back if it’s the wrong one.  Clearly he is all turned around and doesn’t know where he is so I head back to the mouth of the lake and call him again.  He turns around, comes back out into the lake and can see me.  Rescue accomplished.  Now he has to get from there to here against the tide and the wind.


In his defense, it is difficult to tell which one of these is the road out if you aren’t paying very careful attention.  The shore line looks a lot like this all the way around.   Next time I think I’ll bring some orange survey tape and put one on a mangrove branch at the right point.  The way out is on the right in the picture below.





As I was talking on the phone the last time just before I turned around, I came to a bend and there is a yellow crowned night heron.   I take a few pictures but I have to get back so David doesn’t get too lost.    Do you see the heron on the shore?







Amazingly AGAIN, when we paddle back together there he is again just a bit further on than from where I saw him before.  he’s just walking on the shore.  Isn’t he stunning in his breeding colors?   Because of the repeat performance, lucky David gets to see him too. 









He’s the highlight of the day although David says on one of his false exits he saw a flock of white pelicans numbering about a dozen.  Sorry I missed them. I wonder if they are the ones I saw flying over on our way to Mud Lake.

The paddle back to the boat basin is uneventful other than for one cute little solo pied billed grebe and the winds which pick up.  We had thought about following the river further out at MP 47 but the wind changed our minds.



I think we would both do this paddle again on a much nicer day and start out further ahead of high tide.  The tide charts here require adding 1 hour for high and low tides at Mud Lake and 2 hours for the boat basin although we actually went out at low tide into the boat basin and the river earlier in the week with no problem so I’m not sure how important a tide chart is unless you are going to Mud Lake.





  1. Indeed shades of grey. I can just imagine the beauty of a bright and shiny day. I love the bird close ups, each one a treasure. Your closing shot a cutie patuty!

  2. Rescued again! That you dear, I would have been wandering quite a while had you not 'happened' to bring your phone, and me mine. Very glad to have seen the yellow crowned night heron and glad you got such great pictures!

  3. Now that's a different 50 shades of grey :) Beautiful!

  4. Such a beautiful day on the water even though it is cloudy. Love those mangroves and the very pretty yellow crowned night heron. Long name for such a little guy.

    Glad you brought your phone along or David may have been lost forever in mud lake. Maybe they would make a movie, "Lost in Mud Lake" and you could be the star.

  5. Love the shots of the heron - he/she is indeed beautiful. I like your idea of bringing phones along - water protected, of course - just in case you should need help... and marking branches is another smart idea. Guess you have all the bases covered. Obviously, this is far from the maddening crowd... so you were both able to enjoy your solitude and love of nature once again. Your photography is very often stunning.. thank you for sharing with us in your blog. We had every intention of attending a performance of Songs Across Time - American folk parlor and art songs, being held at our local community college. I was so excited... BUT... the sleet and freezing rain have canceled activities in our area.. once again. Oh spring... WHERE ARE YOU?

  6. How fortuitous that you brought your phone and glad Dad had his so you could find each other! It was definitely a grey day, but, you did get to see some beautiful wildlife - wonderful pictures of the heron and the grebe!

  7. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it and head out despite the weather. You did and had another amazing adventure. Loved the close up of the yellow crowned night heron. Nature is full of splendor and magnificent sights, thanks for capturing another one for us all to enjoy! :c)

  8. Thanks for taking us to Mud Lake. I really don't think we will ever make it there on our own. Love the idea of a colored tape. Those mangrove tunnels just all looks alike. My favorite part of the river was the mangrove tunnel section. Nice photos of all the birds!!!

  9. I love the shots that show the tip of your kayak in the foreground -- make me feel like I am there! I'm very glad you had your phones with you (and wonder how you knew?) - once in a while, technology proves to be a good thing!

  10. The yellow crowned heron is fabulous. All those little avenues would look the same to me. I like the marker idea as you can then retrieve it on the return. Sure glad you both remembered your phones, plus had signal.

  11. Sorry, can't offer any help on those shorebirds. I couldn't figure them out either. :(

  12. You really do get a tremendous amount of paddling in! Such beautiful shots!

  13. At one point it looks like you are in a mangrove tunnel:)

  14. Too many times I have ignored the little "nudge" to do something and regretted it. So glad you listened and took the phone. I know David is too :-) While you were on the phone I was thinking "colored survey tape" and then of course read that it wasn't my thought at all. The world looks so different when the colors are washed out and you really captured the beauty of that difference. One can easily imagine fae folk from across the veil keeping watch - and a flock of unidentifiable birds crossing over for just a short time..... Thanks for another great adventure on the water :-)

  15. How fortuitous that you brought your phone -- and that you had coverage! Eric and I just got "life jackets" for our phones for kayaking. That way at least the phones will float if they end up in the water. :-) It helps that you pay close attention to where you're going, too, so that you can find your way home. Wonderful close-ups of the yellow crowned night heron!

  16. What a great paddle! I love when the water is calm and you get those beautiful reflections. Good for you and David that you didn't let a little drizzle and cloudiness ruin your day:) Sure worked out having your phone! You and David might still be out there looking for each other!! Love your close ups of the birds. They are just lovely:)

  17. What great photos! Cloudy or not I enjoyed them.

  18. It seems nothing deters you and David, dreary or not. The day might by gray yet we get to enjoy your day with those big pictures, which like you will brighten any dreary day.


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