Withlacoochee River  (North)

                                  At extreme low water.                            
                By Margie and Otto Hunerwadel of Dowling Park, on the Suwannee.         Celes
                                                                                                          
December 22, 2001

What a trip - the hardest we have ever done!  First of all, at Madison Blue Springs, the put-in  was closed - something about the county had not done the work they were supposed to have done.  So we could go further up or down - it was decided to go up stream!  At that ramp, there was a line of "little shoals" showing before the first bend - but "we" - (our other party in the kayak) decided they wanted to try it.  We were game.  Well at 10:35 we started.  We had MANY of those little shoals - some easier to get over or around than others.  We got back to Blue springs - and our kayaking neighbor, in paddling into the springs area broke his paddle ( did not hit anything but swift water) - luckily we had a spare.  About an hour later - after a quick snack - we started again only to find more and more rocks throughout the trip.  That river is nothing but rocks - and the river was extremely low - (don't have other figures to compare)  We kept paddling hard because 13-1/2 miles takes some pulling - and  most of the way we had a strong wind in our face - and not much current!  There were 3 BIG SHOALS - not as long as on Suwannee's Big Shoals, but just as bad as far as getting across - we managed to get around one - and in the last 3 miles  we found two more before reaching the Suwannee.  The first we managed to manhandle the canoe up on to the mostly flat rocks - over to the water on the other side and get back in and hope that we could get thru the remainder section of the rocks.  We did - I doubt if Otto and I could have done it by ourselves, and there was no place to go around those rocks - or up on the land - which was solid high rock cliff walls!  Anyway - the next big one - we decided to try to get thru/over. The kayak got hung up one way, and we bumped against rocks on both sides - and then again in the middle. We finally managed to hump ourselves over and out - You should see the scrapes and scratches on the bottom of our canoe now.  More than we have had on it in all the 20 years before it put together.  We arrived at Suwannee River State Park at 5:05 p.m.   As we were leaving in the first car to go get the other car, I saw a ranger's truck.  Found him and told him we would be coming back shortly for the 2 men and canoes.  I thought we had until 6 Pm before the gates were locked - he said "they'd be locked at 5:30," OOPS!  We told him we could not get the canoes up and outside the gate in the 15 minutes left,  So he agreed to give us the combination to the lock, telling us to be sure and lock it back!  Returning an hour later, at the gate,  we see a third car behind us.  We discovered that it was the Park Manager who was returning from a meeting.  We told him what we were doing, so it was all OK.     Meanwhile,  the first ranger had gone down to Otto and friend and was waiting with the canoes. He had explained to them we would be able to get back in. - If I had not gotten that combination, I am not sure what we would have done    - YEP a foolish trip - OH!  Two more things.   Otto was threatening to sell the canoe before we finished the trip.  I did get my feet wet - in order to get off rocks - and the kayaker got his knee boots full of water several times getting off rocks and helping us.  Otto fell out of the canoe - trying to get out sideways without telling me.  (I had just gotten out and asked if he wanted to get out - no answer - next thing I know he is trying to get out sideways and tipped the canoe before I could lean down and steady it - but no water in the canoe - and inch further and he would have been very wet.)  Fun trip - and one we won't forget for a long time.  Neither will we offer to go down the Withlacoochee again any time soon !  No section we were on was without lots of rocks to negotiate - and they won much of the time.  Merry Christmas - Know you will get a very good laugh about this experience.  Margie and Otto  P.S. Laughing is good for what ails you!!          Margie       hunerwad@alltel.net

Webmaster's note -- To avoid surprises, good idea to always get all the info you can on water levels, weather, etc. and check with local outfitters for their opinions before finalizing your plans.