Feedback - Suwannee trip
April 28 to April 31
By Bill Logan   
Posted
5/4/03
See two other additional feedbacks on this same run. One most detailed is "Photo Album 3"

                                                                                                                                           
|  You might want to turn your speakers down.                                                                Audio (Red hair)

Click on all Photos to enlarge - "back" takes you back to normal.


  Mac McCullough, Chuck Littleton, and myself all agreed that it had been way too long since we wet a paddle and each of us had been itching to get out even for a short trip. Each of us were stressed out and needed to get away for a few days. I checked the water level and it was perfect. Then checked the 5 day weather forecast on my website and it also looked perfect. I called them and said, this is the time guys, let’s get out of here and paddle. We decided on a Monday since the river traffic would be almost nil. All agreed and we were off.

  I picked Mac up in Mims at 8:00 AM and we hit Hwy 95 about 8:15 It takes us four and a half hours to drive to the Suwannee from our place. Chuck left about 9:30 from Chuluota to miss the heavy morning traffic. About 35 miles south of Jacksonville we ran into heavy construction and it was bumper to bumper for about 10 miles then suddenly it cleared up and we rolled along barely within the speed limit.

  To speed up our getting on the water we decided to go straight to the Hwy 41 ramp and unload so we would not have to wait for David in case he was out on a trip. Knowing we were early, we decided to go up to the little gas station about three eights of a mile north of the ramp, top off ice, fill up with gas and get one of their delicious monster hamburgers. The meat is so big it could easily be called a meat loaf burger - but it sure is good. We called David at the Canoe Outpost (1-800-428-4147) and asked him to come pickup and transport our vehicles back to his place so they would not only be there when we pulled out, they would be parked in a safe place while we were on the river. There has been occasional vandalism to unattended cars so we knew better than to leave them at the ramp overnight unattended.

  Our canoes were about 50% loaded when Chuck showed up with his new home built wood canoe. He did a very nice job and it only weighs 40 lbs. so it was a breeze for him to put in. It was supposed to be 32 but he decided to add a few goodies and that increased the weight. He said he didn’t mind since it was still much lighter than most. Nice looking job. We all were on the water by 12:35

  The water was at 58. (White Springs gage) and was flat moving. What a wonderful morning. We even had a small breeze at our backs. My guess is that the current was moving at better than 3 MPH. All we had to do was keep it straight and the current did 90% of the work. How lucky could we get?

  There are almost no decent campsites on this stretch for eight miles. That one is on the right, right on a hard left bend. Large enough for at least 4 tents without crowding. We arrived at this site at about 4:00 PM We again lucked out. There had obviously been no one in this site since the water had receded - and we had our own supply of firewood all nicely piled up by the high water and close to our fire pit.

        Baked potatoes coming up.  We spent the evening around a nice campfire telling sea stories and imbibing in several cold beverages.      Talk about kicking back!

  Chuck likes to try new things so he had brought his new "Hennessy" hammock. He swears that it is the most perfect camping rig he owns – yet these old bones, (and Mac’s also) prefer to sleep flat. If I slept in a hammock all night it would take me 2 hours to straighten up (if I could). Mac and I stick to the traditional self inflating mattress and sleeping bag.
  Chuck swears that he is very comfortable in his hammock (that's his butt almost on the ground) it's not only bug proof it's rain proof.  Be your own judge – if you have questions,  contact Chuck on his website – www.southernpaddler.com    He also has a canoeing and camping forum on his site.

I know about unicorns - but never heard of a 'bat' unicorn - at least the horse has a big butt. grin.  
Click on to get a better look.

There were the always pesky mosquitoes, aggravating but not bad enough I had to break out my Muskol insect spray. By the time we hit the sack, we were all ready for LaLa land. It had been a super day for paddling and the weather was perfect.

  Next morning we were up at 7:00 AM.  The river was really foggy.  It made for some nice photos.
  It had been 58 degrees during the night so it was perfect sleeping bag weather The nice thing about taking your sweet time - and kicking back without too much paddling is you do everything leisurely. Nothing is rushed. Since this was such a short trip, we had already agreed that were going to do more camping than paddling – so by the time we broke camp and got on the water it was about 9:20 AM.

  Again a perfect morning, super current and small breeze at our backs. We all agreed " It don’t get any better than this."
              
   Chuck, Mac        Me and Mac             Rusty                   Again            Suwannee scene

                                                           
                                               Chuck's new canoe     Beautiful river    Think Lousia spring

And – we did something neither of us had done before. We put down at noon on a wide sandbar at a County Park. It was on the left and there was a very wide set of wooden steps at the east end. After we got our camp set up, and finished gathering our firewood, we hiked back up the road for a ways to kill time and see what was there. My old paddling and camping buddy, my dawg Rusty, loved that. He got to smell and water every tree on the road and go after a couple lizards that were endangering our lives, so he got to protect us. Though there were not many, we did find a few ticks. But we were lucky enough that none got where they were not supposed to be. Before leaving Chuck and I had sprayed our levies with Permanone (Which you should also do if you are going to be on the river banks and in brushy areas gathering firewood) It sure will keep them from crawling up your trousers. (You can get it at Wal-Mart camping section.) About 1:30 PM Chuck put a stick at the water’s edge (as we always do) to see how much the water dropped. By morning it had gone down about 4" below the stake. Probably about a half to three quarter inch in depth.

  After a bath and clean clothes and a light supper, I felt like a new man. We again enjoyed a nice fire and a few cool beverages topped off the evening quite nicely. Mosquitoes were pesky but I have seen much worse. Got out our weather radio and checked the weather report in case there had been changes and there had not. Perfect. Neither of us had put on our tent fly so we could see the crystal clear sky and all the stars as we lay in our sleeping bag.

  It was 60 degrees when we got up at 7:30 next morning. Perfect sleeping. After breakfast we broke camp - again leisurely, and were on the water around 9:30. I was carrying my digital camera and had taken quite a few pictures but it quit working the night before so I missed some extremely outstanding scenic shots of the river and the reflection of green of the trees and Spanish moss. At the time I was really disgusted this happened and thought my camera had bitten the dust.

  Next morning, I would discover that one of the settings had been bumped and there was really nothing wrong with it. That made me happy but the fact that I had missed some really beautiful shots ticked me off.

  We arrived at Canoe Outpost around 3:30 PM even though we made several stops to investigate several nice campsites and explore a couple springs, etc. After unloading all our sandy (very) gear into our van, we headed up to the Spirit of the Suwannee Campground and got a super campsite right in front of the bath house. There was a convenient picnic table so that was handy. We each got a hot shower and clean clothes - and went into town for super. We decided on Ken’s Barbeque (on the south end of Live Oak – on Hwy. 129 – right next to Publix. We each pigged out on barbeque and sweet ice tea. I think we each weighed a couple pounds more when we came out than we did when we went in. We headed for home next morning about 9 AM.

  Only this time we decided to miss the construction on Hwy 95 – and took Hwy 75 to 40 and over to 95 and home.

  Yes, it was a very short trip but we were just 3 old codgers who just had to get away for a few days for some R&R. It was a superb trip - under the circumstances. Mac and Chuck both had to be back for Dr.’s appointments. But – it all worked out. And we are already making plans for a run from Fargo to Live Oak next time. Hope this  too verbose little "blurb" is helpful to you to make your plans for a great trip.