A modern explorer and adventurer that you’ve probably never heard of, she didn’t conquer anybody, didn’t find a great treasure, didn’t even put a flag down on a new world, but what she did do is an amazing example of what every woman, young or old, is capable of.
Mary hails from Florida where she does most of her paddling, which just goes to show that you don’t have to stray very far from home to find amazing adventures. Somewhere near you there’s undiscovered country, undiscovered by you that is, and that’s all that really matters isn’t it. If you haven’t seen it, go and see it, you don’t have to travel half way around the world to scratch the explorer itch. But, I digress. After competing in a number of endurance races, Mary decided to challenge herself to circumnavigate Florida, YES the whole state of Florida, on a kayak! After graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in Microbiology, Mary gave herself 100 days to complete the trip, and near the end of 2014 she did it!
The Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, Office of Greenways and Trails has established a series of 26 “legs” which a paddler can trek one at a time, or as an epic through paddle like Mary has done.
“Beginning at Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola, extending around the Florida peninsula and Keys, and ending at Fort Clinch State Park near the Georgia border, the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail (commonly referred to as The CT) is a 1,515-mile sea kayaking paradise. The trail includes every Florida coastal habitat type, from barrier island dune systems to salt marsh to mangroves. Numerous historical sites and points of interest are accessible by kayak along with colorful fishing communities and urban centers.
The CT is divided into 26 segments. Each segment is unique, ranging from the remote Big Bend Coast and Everglades/Florida Bay wilderness, to the more urbanized coastlines of Pinellas County and Fort Lauderdale. The trail is utilized by thousands of Florida residents and visitors alike who paddle the trail for a few hours, days, weeks or months. Some hardy souls have paddled the entire trail…” Read more here.
Along the way Mary slept on deserted beaches with lightning pounding around her, she paddled smooth seas and rough seas, her boat was bitten by a shark, and she was offered support by countless kind, and generous strangers. In her own words from a brief interview at canoekayak.com, “Don’t be afraid. You will be alone out there, so you have to be self-sufficient, but that’s okay. Don’t worry about the people. Use common sense, but it’s not the big, scary world you see on TV.” Read more about her journey here and here.
Start planning your adventure today!
It’s not too late to register for May To the Bay, deadline is April 17th and there are 7 slots available.
I’ll be happy to help you prepare for the adventure of a lifetime, or maybe the adventure you might someday say started it all!