Two Dozen Fellow Travelers Canoe Suwannee
Trenton, FL--The Thanksgiving weekend trip has become one of the most popular Fellow Traveler outings, and the 2006 trip was no exception. The trip was set for put-in at the Rock Bluff Spring bridge and camping was set for Hart Springs Park. Take-out was scheduled for Fanning Springs State Park.
Plans were made, and the weather forecast was marvelous for late November. The highs were to be in the low seventies and the lows in the high forties, and there was only a minimal chance of rain.
Put-in was to be at eight. Charlie and Diane Stines, Autrey, Tim Eidson, Paul Tolar, and Terrie Sheffield all arrived about five minutes early and Kim Joiner was already there. By the time the canoe trailer was unloaded the Moyes (Roy, Eric, David, Nathan, and Justin), the Ellises (Donna and Jerry), the Williams crew (John, Jay, Leeanne, and Chastity Birdsong), and Sue Chisefsky had arrived. It was only a few more minutes until Hamp Chauncey and Edwin McCook were there, but Art and Janice Shelfer took the long route and were rather late. Once all the boats were ready the shuttle to Hart Springs was run and the paddle began. at about ten. This was the first overnighter for Diane’s Yorkie, Ami. The sun was already warm and it looked like it would be a wonderful day..
The first small adventure was a short jaunt upriver to Rock Bluff Spring. This is a very pretty spring which sits off the east bank. The spring run winds a short distance through some enormous cypress trees. The spring itself was very clear. There is a concrete wall around some of the spring, but there are no houses.
After exploring Rock Bluff Spring the two dozen paddlers headed downstream. The next stop was at the Guaranto Spring county park. The spring was very low and covered with plant life, but it was a pleasant stop. After that, the travelers headed to Log Landing for a stop. It too was a pleasant stop. The group decided to wait for lunch until the next stop which was Wannee. Wannee has the remnants of some picnic tables and it is located on a high bank above the river. This was a long rest stop. Everyone had gourment lunches and shared them with the gnats. The stop was over at about two.
The fall wildflowers added to the beauty of the trip, and to the extent that the deep south has fall colors the trees were on display. A lot of birds including lots of great blue herons, some hawks, a few ducks, some gallinules, a few other wading birds, and an inordinate number of circling vultures entertained the friends. Just as the canoes headed up the spring run to Sun Springs they saw several limpkin walking about on the bank.
After touring Sun Springs the boaters headed for Hart Springs. The day’s journey was over a little after four. Edwin McCook was not planning to camp so he took the drivers back to Rock Bluff to retrieve the vehicles left there. Everyone got busy pitching tents. Hamp brought almost a truck load of good firewood and he built a fabulous fire.
Julie Harrison, the park manager, arranged for the Fellow Travelers to use half a covered pavilion which was really an enclosed building with very clean tables, electricity, heating, and cooling. Autrey went there to cook the hamburgers and John set up his curly fry factory. Sue provided baked beans and Donna treated everyone to homemade brownies. The supper put the Golden Arches to shame.
Once the food was eaten the campers retreated to Hamp’s fire. The weather had cooled and the fire provided welcome warmth. Conversation was exchanged. The best story was Leeane’s tale about the power going off at the restaurant she manages at Denali National Park in Alaska. When the power fails the water becomes scarce. One man asked her if he could use the bathroom but she told him to go pee in the woods. The customer just happened to be a writer for American Airlines and he decided to write about Leeanne in the next issue.
Eventually everyone went to bed and slept until daylight. Roy, Nathan, Justin, Charlie, Diane, and Art prepared breakfast. Roy earned Tim’s gratitude by spilling some eggs. There was plenty of grits, eggs, and sausage. Charlie made the coffee in the electric urn, but the first run ended up being fifty cups of hot water since he had assembled the percolator device incorrectly. That was redone and there was plenty of coffee. Art had baked a pound cake on Friday night but it was eaten Saturday morning. He also baked some bread for breakfast, but it was done about the time everyone finished eating breakfast.
The tents were taken down. Art and Janice decided not to paddle on Saturday so they helped with the shuttle by bringing the drivers back after the cars were left at the Fanning Springs take-out. When the shuttle was accomplished the Saturday trip began.
The river is quite large below Branford, and it is noticeably wider at Hart Springs than even at Rock Bluff Spring. Nevertheless, power boats were not much of a problem and the water was shallow. The Suwannee is generally regarded as a tannic river, but the lower section is much clearer due to the springs which feed it.
There was a stop for rest at Sapp Landing on the east bank. It was a nice resting spot. After that the paddlers took a side trip up a spring run to Copper Spring. This was an interesting trip to a very clear spring which had an emerald green color. The spring was surrounded by houses and the water had lots of floating material, but it was a nice diversion. Shortly after leaving Copper Spring the canoes passed under the old Seaborn Coastline trestle which is now part of the rails to trails program.
There was one more stop on the bank for snack time. Shortly after that a smallish alligator was spotted on a log posing for pictures. Sue got an excellent shot of him. From there it was on to Fanning Springs. The destination was reached about 2:45 PM. The boats were loaded and everyone said fond farewells. It was another splendid trip for the two dozen paddlers. There were four rookies--Edwin McCook, Sue Chisefsky, Jay Williams, and Chastity Birdsong. None were new paddlers but were new to the Fellow Travelers, and none were properly initiated.