Conservancy Group Paddles Suwannee
Luraville, FL--Five people accepted the Fellow Travelers' invitation to canoe a short but pretty section of the Suwannee on September 13, 2003. Susan Pearson, Cindy Workman, Julie Strickland, Donald May, and Charlie Stines met at the parking lot of a local bank, and with three canoes following the Suburban Profane and the ladies riding separately, the quintet headed south. There was the usual stop at the Golden Arches steakhouse in Madison for a quick breakfast of McMuffins or whatever Mickey Dee had on the menu. After that, it was on to the put-in at the SR 51 bridge.
Susan followed Charlie to the take-out at Royal Spring, and managed to find her way back through the complicated route along the dirt roads. Susan and Donald loaded into the Canadienne, Julie and Cindy put their goods and selves into the Gunn boat, and Charlie got another chance to get acquainted with his new toy, the Wenonah Prism solo boat.
It took a few minutes of paddling for Cindy and Julie to figure out how to keep the boat pointed downstream, but after that it was all smooth sailing. There was to be a stop at Telford Spring, but the river was even higher than it had been on the late August trip, and the spring was anything but clear.
So it was on down the river. The only problem encountered was a fast motorboat who really created a wake, and in addition to that, he gave Cindy and Julie the New Jersey one-finger salute. But no one was wet or upset.
The weather was especially nice for September. The blue skies showed no threat of rain, but the sun was not unpleasantly warm. There was the expected headwind, but it was gentle enough to be welcome.
There was a stop for snacks on the west edge of the river. Then the floating resumed.
Running Springs, which has been posted, was not so this time. (It is possible that the no trespassing sign was under water!) Anyhow, the paddlers were able to paddle into the spring, the rocks which usually prevent actually canoeing there being submerged at this water level. The best surprise was that the spring was at its best deep blue-green and clear, and there were some big fish to observe.
After leaving Running Spring, those who had not previously seen the old Frank Drew railroad trestle. It has been sitting there since the 1920s when the Florida railroad was abandoned.
Once the railroad trestle was passed, Greg and Lillian Baker approached in a motorboat. They had decided to eat lunch with the paddlers at River Rendezvous, but had missed the entourage while it was exploring Running Spring.
Bathtub Spring, too, was accessible, the sand bag dam which normally prevents access by canoes, was beneath the surface. The spring itself was partially clear. From there, it was on to River Rendezvous at Convict Spring. The spring was absolutely black, and the concrete walk around it was not even visible beneath the water. Charlie had told everyone that the food was not particularly good but the hearts were. It turned out that the food was good. Mesquite chicken, turkey sandwiches, hamburgers, and Reuben sandwiches pleased everyone. After lunch, most of the group ate a popsicle and headed on to the take-out. It is only about a mile from River Rendezvous to the take-out at Royal Spring. Despite the high river and the lack of clarity in the water, there were some divers at the spring. Once the spring was explored, the canoes were loaded onto the trailer, and everyone rode the Suburban back to the put-in, at which point the group was again segregated by sex for the trip home.