Return to the Suwannee River

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October 2016: We started our adventure at Big Shoals State Park.  Big Shoals offers the only fast water in the state, with class two rapids at most.  We were to launch at the park and paddle through the shoal on our way down the river.  But Florida was in drought with the water in the river lower than it had been in a long time.  A hike to view Big Shoals from the shore revealed an area of exposed rock that I feared would severely damage my boat if I tried to pass through.  To get by this obstacle required a portage of a quarter mile or so, up a steep incline, along a dirt trail, and down to the river again.  Because of recent back surgery, I decided to skip the downstream paddle and its portage around Big Shoals (see Big Shoals Video), and be transported from Big Shoals State Park to Stephen Foster State Park by van.  

The stretch of river between these two parks is, in my opinion, its most beautiful section.  I still wanted to experience as much of that part of the river as I could, so I launched from our downstream campsite and paddled upstream toward Big Shoals for an hour before turning around.  Upstream paddling is more work but you have more steering control than you do paddling with the current.  There was shallow water and exposed rock    everywhere, which made the possibility of damaging my boat very real.  But it also made the experience challenging and exciting.  Here’s a short peak at what I experienced.

This was my fourth trip on the Suwannee.  My first trip was with John Resch and Scott Locorini.  Scott, an outfitter and guide, had scoped out the trip which was to be ten days from White Springs, just below Big Shoals, to Fanning Springs, some 140 miles downstream.  The other trips were with Paddle Florida.  Two of these started on the Withlacoochee River and joined the Suwannee at Suwannee River State Park.  This most recent trip began above Great Shoals, bringing me back to the upper river that I like so much.  I imagine I will continue to paddle this river for as many years as I can.  For my money there are only three bucket list kayaking trips to take in Florida: the Suwannee River, the Ten Thousand Islands, and the Everglades.

Rather than detail the day to day activities of this trip, I’ll let my videos do the talking.  I’ve also included a Matt Keen video (Click Here) done for Paddle Florida that features an interview with Yackman.  (also see Suwannee Memories)

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 © Don Yackel 2020