Ascent of Mound Key on 2015-02-27

Climber: James Barlow

Others in Party:Jeff Butt
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, February 27, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mound Key
    Elevation:31 ft / 9 m

Ascent Trip Report

We met the kayak outfitter at the Carl Johnson boat launch near Lovers Key State Park and made our way into the water. It is a 2 mile kayak out to Mound Key. There was a wind out of the north which meant that we paddled into a headwind on the way out to the key. You can see by the track that we used the keys to shelter from the wind here and there. Along the way, we saw a dolphin jump completely out of the water - definitely a treat! We also saw 2 bald eagles landing on trees on Mound Key as we arrived.

Once we arrived on the key, we followed Peg up to the highest point, learning about the history all along the way. The Calusa Indians here defeated Ponce de Leon's conquistadors in 1513, only to be later defeated by the Spaniards. Due to their fish diet, the Calusa Indians were 5'8" on average as compared to the 5' 2" average Spaniards, causing them to be referred to as giants by the Spaniards. Archaeologists estimate that around 1,000 Calusa Indians lived on Mound Key at any given time, making it one of the largest Calusa Indian settlements in Florida, potentially the "capital."

This shell mound was cited as the highest point in Lee County by Peg, but it is likely not as compared to all of the 32 ft high points in NE Lee county. So, for a true completist, the error range is close enough that Mound Key should be visited. It does not appear that the NE Lee County areas will ever be completed anyway.

Once the Calusa Indians succumbed to disease, slavery, and murder at the hands of the Spanish, the island was used by pirates and fishermen until the Johnsons set up a homestead in the late 1800s. They soon converted to the Koreshan faith (worth a google) and the island became a site for the commune to congregate. As the Koreshan faith waned, the remaining people donated all of their land to the state of Florida, which included Mound Key and a large farm/village near Estero that is now a state park.

If you want to experience Mound Key the right way (paddling out there in a kayak), hit up Peg and Brandy at the College of Life Foundation. There are no more Koreshans, but their money was transferred to this foundation to preserve the history of their movement. It is pretty cool and you can learn a lot about the history of SW Florida on a kayak trip with them. Phone: 239-992-2184.

We hiked all the way across the island, crossing the high point twice. For a highpointer, the true high point is just next to the clearing in the trees. After learning all about the key and hiking across it and back, we hopped back in the kayaks and paddled back to our starting point, enjoying a tail wind all the way. There were about 20 pelicans hanging out on the leeward side of Little Davis Key with 2 or 3 anhinga. Pics
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:31 ft / 9 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:31 ft / 9 m
    Route:Mound Key Trail
    Start Trailhead:0 ft / 0 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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