Suwannee Kayak Journey
                                                  An excellent trip report.   Trip  5/25/02 - Posted 6/3/02

   My wife and I have done the upper part of the Suwannee River from Fargo to Florida State Highway 6 at least 6 times in the last 5 years.  It is indeed a special place.  Secluded, peaceful, back to mother nature. 
The first trip we made was in a canoe.  We put in at Fargo and traveled to Highway 6 in one day in 8 hours..  It rained at least half of the time. We both love being on the water and outdoors so it was still an enjoyable time for us.  Following is information regarding our latest trip. 

  We started our trip on Saturday, May 25, 2002 on the upper Suwannee River at Fargo, Georgia.  We put in at Noon.  Our flotilla consisted of three Old Town Loon 13.8 Kayaks and one new Wilderness Systems Pungo (about 12ft).  We have been using these Loons for several years and found them to be really nice for exploring the rivers, streams and lakes of North Florida.  They have a large cockpit which makes it easy to enter and depart plus great room to move your legs about.  They are rated for 300lbs and are extremely stable.

 We studied your web site, read the latest trip reports and paid particular close attention to your information regarding the water depth.  On our previous trips, we had never made a record of the water levels so we had no way to compare the depths for our upcoming trip.

 We traveled from Tallahassee, Florida in two vehicles for a beautiful drive on US Highway 90 to Madison, Florida continuing on State Highway 6 to Jasper where we purchased some great barbecue sandwiches at the local barbecue spot.  The goal, early lunch where the Highway crosses the Suwannee.  We were curious of how much water would be present at this location to assist us in making a decision about being able to paddle in low water.  The water level at White Springs was 50.20 on Saturday, 50.14 on Sunday and 50.11 on Monday.  We decided we would try.

 As we have done in the past, we inquired of the kind people at their house about 1/2 mile west of the river if we may leave a car by their house while we were on the river.  Having obtained their permission we  proceeded to Fargo where we unloaded our gear and prepared for our journey.  At this location, we again made arrangements with a family that lives next to the volunteer fire department in Fargo to leave our
car for safe keeping.  We always offer a tip for this service.

 Please keep in mind that our kayaks do not draw as much water as a canoe even though we were packed for three days and two nights of  river adventure. There were four places where we had to get out of our kayaks
and pull them a few feet.  The first is the old rock dam just a short distance from Fargo.  The next  two were shortly after we passed the Georgia/Florida border which we determine by seeing the first Florida government signs on the trees on the west side of the river.  The last shoal was just above the take out point just north of the Highway 6 bridge.  You can see this shoal from the bridge.

 The current was slow to non existent in most places.  Since the water depth was so shallow we could., except with very few exceptions, never go straight down the river.  We had to always cut back and forth across
the river as we proceeded down river.  We all agreed that we enjoyed this challenge because we had to always be reading the water for snags, shoals and sand bars.  This added some paddling excitement to our trip.

 Camping sites abound along the river when it is this low.  Long white sandy beaches.  It was warm during the days, but cool enough in the evenings that you needed to be in your sleeping bag.  We assume the absent of mosquitoes is related to drought conditions.  We did experience some biting yellow flies early in the evening.

 The first day on the river we paddled for 2 1/2 hours and encountered no other people on the water or land.  The first nights camp site was a sand bank about 100 yards long with both shade and sun.  The next day we
paddle for 4 hours and passed one couple late in the day in a small motor boat.  After we set up camp in the late afternoon, they passed us going south very slowly.  They ask us if we needed anything and we
responded by saying "It sure would be nice to have ice with our evening cocktail" which they happily provided.

 The last day we paddle for 2 1/2 hours before arriving at our departure point back at Highway 6.  During the last day we passed another canoe and small john boat at a camp site just north of the Highway 6.

 Was a great time to be on the river.  Approximately 9 hours of gentle paddling spread over 3 days.  Plenty of camp sites, few people, few insects, lots of birds and a few wild land animals.  Would we do this again at this water level?  Answer, definitely yes.  Would we try it if the White Springs level was below 50.0?  Answer, probably not.  However, please keep in mind that everything here is relative.  If you are traveling light, want the river to yourself, look forward to some extra exercise, you can still do this river at low water levels and have a good time.

                                                                        Ron, Cecile, Don & Eileen
 rbaker@ledgerplus.com