July Paddle From White Springs to Suwannee Springs
Eleven Fellow Travelers, including six rookies, made a relaxed voyage on The Suwannee from White Springs to Suwannee Springs on July 12 and July 13, 2003.
The primary purpose of the trip was to introduce two Cub Scouts, Lucas Ladner and Levi Newberry, to canoe camping, but an invitation was extended to all Fellow Travelers to come. Charlie drove the Suburban Profane to Cairo to pick up Lucas and Levi and their fathers, Bo Ladner and Scott Newberry. After that, it was a drive to the Spirit of the Suwannee campground to pick up Donald May, who was to shuttle the drivers at trip's end. That group then met Paul and Patricia Tolar, John Williams, Kathy Kinder, and Daniel Butler at the Stephen Foster Cultural Center for the launch.
The river was at the optimum level for easy canoeing. The Cub Scouts were super excited about just being along, but the other rookies (Patricia, Kathy, Bo, and Scott) were much impressed by the beauty of the moss-draped cypresses above the limestone banks reflecting in the black water.
The first stop was at Swift Creek, and it was a good place for lunch. Levi and Lucas were immediately in the water, and they had a blast. Lucas got his first taste of sardines and decided they were truly fine food.
Just as the paddlers left Swift Creek, a tremendous rain came. Everyone ducked for cover under the Interstate 75 bridge. It poured for about forty-five minutes, but no one was seriously soaked. When the rain stopped, Kathy walked to the top of the bank and bought back a watermelon. That can be a felony in Georgia, but the Suwannee County sheriff did not catch her.
The rain had cooled the air, and the paddling was really pleasant. The scenery on this stretch of the Suwannee is great. The river is somewhat winding, and there are numerous white sandbars which are ideal for camping, swimming, or just enjoying. There are a few houses on this section, but it is not heavily developed. The group did not encounter any other people on the river the first day except for one boat which passed the campsite.
It was pre-determined that the campsite would be the enormous high sandbar dubbed Camp Diane. The paddlers arrived a little after three, and everyone set up the tents. Lucas and Levi were the first into the water, but most everyone else took a dip or a river bath. July Suwannee River water is pleasantly warm.
It did come another strong rain, but it was not to last long. Everyone gathered under John's parawing and kept dry. After that, it was time to prepare supper. Patricia mixed the coleslaw, Donald fixed instant potatoes even though everyone else had to read and explain the instructions to him, and Charlie and Paul fried the chicken. (John decided he wanted to eat his own food, and it probably was not ham and lentils.)
Several campers again went into the river. Daniel built a nice campfire, and everyone sat around enjoying that. All the campers had gone to bed by about ten, and the usual roar of the snore was evident. The King waited until daylight to make coffee, but then he cooked sausage and pancakes. Although it still fell short of the Roy Moye standard, it was an excellent breakfast.
Once the camp broken, it was down the river. Kathy caught a really nice catfish within the first ten minutes, but she threw it back into the water. The group stopped at the small waterfall where there is a Florida trail bridge, and the children enjoyed playing in the water there, too.
The paddle on to Suwannee Springs was uneventful, but it was a beautiful day on a beautiful river. Once Suwannee Springs was reached it was lunch time. The spring inside the springhouse had more water than usual, and Lucas and Levi enjoyed playing in both the spring and in the river. They were surprised at how cold the the spring water was in comparison to the river water.
After that, it was only a short trip to the take-out at Spirit of the Suwannee. Six people packed into Donald's two-door Grand Am and went to White Springs to get the other vehicles.