Sunday, January 8, 2012

Everglades Expedition Logistics by Ryan Beltz

Expeditions most often take on a life of their own, much like water. We can channel water and try to direct it, but in the end, it always finds its own way to the sea. In this way, the nine members of the Hawk Mountain Conservation Corps made their way to Florida, through the River of Grass and to the Gulf of Mexico. The actual trip may have only lasted 10 days, yet the “channeling” of the expedition began much before that. Over 9 months ago, we sat in the office and began to devise a plan that would move 6 corps members, 3 leaders, and a mountain of food and equipment through the Everglades. But what does it actually take to accomplish such an expedition.

The first step is transportation. This was the purchasing of plane tickets, transport to and from the airport, the rental of vehicles in Florida and the marathon road trip of Todd and Andy with a car loaded from top to bottom and front to back.

The second step is securing food, not only the sustenance itself but ways to transport it, keep it fresh, prepare it, cook it, serve it and clean up after it. This was 10 days of food for 9 people multiplied by an average of 12 pounds per person (including food, food totes, and cooking equipment) per day for a total of over 1000 pounds of food and cooking equipment.

The third step is securing water. Since the southern terminus of the Everglades contains mostly brackish water, the group was required to carry enough water to support itself for 6 days at a time. The math on this statistic figures out to nearly 500 pounds of water that the group had to carry with them (in addition to the 1000 pounds of food and cooking equipment).
The fourth step is procuring and packing the right combination of gear and equipment to keep the expedition members safe and happy, warm and comfortable. This means backpacks and dry bags, sleeping bags and sleeping mats, tents and tarps, books and clothing, binoculars and cameras, first aid kits, paddles, life jackets, sunscreen, bug spray, raccoon deterrent, toilet paper, toothbrushes… the list could go on and on. In the end though, this “right combination of gear and equipment” added up to 55 pounds per person for a total of 500 pounds of gear.
The end result of this calculation is that the nine of us paddled, hauled and humped over 2000 pounds – 1 ton of stuff in four canoes for over 54 miles from our base camp in Flamingo through Coot and Whitewater Bays, around a sea of mangroves, to chickees, up and down beaches, and through the Gulf of Mexico. And we did this to learn about the Everglades Ecosystem, to serve our National Park through our work, and for the fun and adventure of it. And I would venture to say that all of us are the better for it.

Ryan Beltz

1 comment: