Super September Trip on Suwannee
Dowling Park, FL-The Fellow Travelers set out for the usual three-day September float on September 6, 2009. Everyone met at Suwannee River State Park for the put-in. Most of the vehicles were shuttled to the boat ramp at Dowling Park and most of the gear was left in the cars. The group consisted of George Royal, two rookies Donnie and Tyler Hester, Greg and Sean Ferrell, Art and Janice Shelfer, Roy Moye, John Williams, and Diane and Charlie Stines.
It was a beautiful September morn. The gentle breeze made the paddling pleasant but it did get rather warm during the day. The shoals just below US 90 created no problems. The paddlers went under I-10 just before 10:30. There is a small spring just below the interstate. There was also the remnants of a canoe standing on its end. Naturally, John and Art tried to rescue it but finally determined that it was too damaged to salvage. There was a cave-like opening in the limestone bank and some of the group tried exploring that.
The scenery between the state park and Dowling Park is very nice. The limestone banks reflect beautifully in the black water. There are some pretty sandbars.
Charlie and Diane were using the new Wenonah Escape for the first time. It paddled nicely.
There is a large stream which enters from the west bank just before reaching Dowling Park. The canoeists all explored it as far as the water level would permit.
The Suwannee River Water Management Canoe Camp was the day’s destination. The paddlers were there by about four. The camping gear had been left in the cars about two hundred yards downstream so several of the men canoed down to retrieve it. Paddling back up to camp was somewhat difficult--due more to the wind than to the current.
Henry Duggan and Will Sims joined the group at the campsite. They would canoe the rest of the way in Henry’s Old Town Pathfinder canoe. It was a rookie journey for them but both have many years of canoeing experience.
There were no community meals. Several ate hobo meals and some ate hot dogs. The weather was too nice for tents so everyone just stayed in the screened shelters. Many even took showers. The group stayed up fairly late telling the usual lies. Henry, Will, Tyler, and Donnie were new to the group so there was some new material to be heard.
Coffee was ready by seven. After breakfast the gear was again loaded into the vehicles and the shuttle to Lafayette Blue Springs was made. The ice was replenished at the convenience store. The lady clerk was much impressed with the group and especially liked the “paddle faster, I hear banjo music” shirt worn by Charlie. (It was a gift from Rick Metz and Harry Selby.)
It was about 10:30 when the paddling got underway. The scenery and weather were again very good. Everyone stopped to eat lunch at Charles Spring. The water level was such that the spring had a very deep and clear green color. There was a local couple there with a big friendly bulldog, but Diane’s yorkie, Ami, was not pleased.
After the long break the paddlers headed downstream. The run from Allen’s Millpond was obstructed so only Greg and Sean paddled the run. It was still early afternoon when the camp at the park was reached.
After pitching the tents someone built a nice fire. Again individual suppers were devoured. Donna and Jerry Ellis came down to visit.
Again everyone stayed up late swapping experiences. There was no need for rain flies on the tents.
The state park has considerable construction projects underway. There are already some cabins available but the camping area is still accessible only by foot. However, due to previous connections with important people the Fellow Travelers were given special permission to open the gate and transport the gear in by motor vehicles.
After breakfast and after shuttling the cars to Telford, the journey to Telford Spring began. The weather had changed and it looked like the travelers were going to be blessed by a little more rain--but they were not. The gang arrived at Perry Spring about 10:45 and had a nice stop. The sandbags have been removed from the spring entrance and it is much prettier as a result. Some travelers took a swim.
After leaving Perry the group headed downstream. The shoals just upstream from Highway 51 livened things up a bit but were skillfully run by all. The boat ramp at the highway was under construction.
The paddle ended about 11:30 at Telford. It was a really nice trip.