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Visit this site to learn about the adventures of a bunch of rednecks devoted to canoeing the rivers, swamps, and sloughs of the area. You will meet those who view trips as a fun undertaking rather than a demonstration of paddling skills. You will not find a political agenda. The group includes some tree huggers and others who hold Rachel Carson responsible for many thousands of African malaria deaths. There is wide range of humanity represented. Those who would save the world are welcomed but that is not the point of the group.


                                        Low Water on Blackwater For Memorial Day Trip

Baker,  Fl--The Fellow Travelers 2011 Memorial Day trip was scheduled for the Blackwater River.  The area was suffering from severe drought and the weather was hot, but the trip was a success.

bl11cotton3Paul Tolar, Diane Stines, Charlie Stines, and Yorkie Ami boarded the Exhibition about five in the morning and began the journey.  They met Sam Brown on the Thomasville bypass.  Sam’s  coroner car Crown Victoria had experienced a collision with a deer so Sam was in a neat rental Chevrolet HHR.  The group picked up I-10 in Thomasville and headed west.  There was a rest stop at the Apalachicola River and a Hardee’s break near Cottondale, and thenit  was on to meet the gang at the put-in at Cotton Bridge.

Art and Janice Shelfer arrived shortly thereafter and Daniel Butler and Liset Cruz came a little later.  The  canoes were unloaded and packed with minimal gear, then most of the cars were shuttled to  Wilderness Landing,  the  anticipated campsite. Wilderness Landing is an Okaloosa County Park and is where the travelers camped in April 2010.  It was not completed at that time but did have nice  shelters and a nice grassy camping area.  It is difficult to find by road.

After the shuttle was completed the group of eight and a dog began the journey.  Art and Janice used the  Escape, Sam and Paul teamed up in the Penobscot 17, Daniel and Liset paddled Daniel’s Discovery  169, and  Diane, Charlie, and Ami rode the Canadienne. Paddling began shortly before  eleven.bl11paul1

The river was extremely low and there were several places where the canoeists had to get out and float the canoes in about six inches of water.  There were also a lot of downed trees and exposed stumps but none posed problems.

The banks of the Blackwater are generally low but there are a few small bluffs. A few small  creeks  feed  the river but they did not add any appreciable depth to the water.  The forest is mixed hardwoods intersperced with some cypresses and lots of cedars.  A few wildflowers were in bloom

The temperature was hot but the scenery was great. Blue skies and cumulus clouds made for a  picturesque day. The  exposed sandbars glistened  silvery white.

No speed  records were attempted and none were set.  After about and hour and a half of paddling and wading the group decided to  take  a  long  lunch break on a huge sandbar.  The usual snacks were consumed.

Everyone reached Wilderness Landing by about two.  It could be heard long before it  could be seen.  The site  attracted hundreds of people who were  enjoying weekend picnics and splashing in the warm water.  It was obvious that there would be no room for  bl11camp3camping at the landing itself, so the paddlers elected  to set up camp on a  large sandbar across the  river from the boat landing.  It was a pretty good place to  camp.

The park at Wilderness Landing has been completed but the bathrooms were not open because a camp host had not been hired.It is a great camping place but will  probably be too crowded on many weekends.

Daniel’s sister, Jennifer, was awaiting the  arrival.  She brought her infant daughter,  her adult daughter, and  a host of young people to share  supper. 

There was a lot of  goof-off time  before  supper.  Daniel provided  steaks and  salmon,  and  Charlie tried his hand at baking a pineapple upside-down cake in the  Dutch oven.

After supper everyone enjoyed a small campfire. Jennifer and  her group left.  After swapping a  few stories everyone retreated to the tents for a good night’s sleep.

No one arose before daylight, but Charlie did have the first pot of  coffee ready long befobl11janice1re breakfast.  Art was supposed  to cook  but he  stayed in bed  so long that Sam, Paul, and Daniel cooked  the eggs and bacon Art had supplied.  There were also grits and Dutch oven canned biscuits.

After breakfast the tents were taken down and ferried across the river.  A shuttle was run to the take-out at Bryant Bridge and the second day of canoeing began after ten.  It was much like the first day.  The river was still shallow but pretty.

Upon arrival at Bryant Bridge the canoes and gear were loaded.  Daniel and Liset departed but everyone else returned to Wildernes Landing to  retrieve Art and Sam’s vehicles.   Sam had  accidentally locked his keys inside the HHR and needed to contact the rental agency, but there was no cell phone service.  Art drove him to a place  where  he could contact Enterprise and they agreed to send a locksmith.  Unfortunately, the locksmith could neither find the landing nor contact anyone by cell  phone.  Sam finally managed to get the door open and everyone headed home.  The locksmith finally did make phone contact and was informed that he was no longer needed.  Sam decided to send him a contribution for his troubles.  The long drive home was pleasant.  It was not the best trip  the  Fellow  Travelers ever made, but it was fun.