Chassahowitzka River Trip

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Mickey Jensen, Al Letch | VCKC
Published Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Date: January 9th & 10th 2007

Number of Paddlers:

Jan 9 - 16 Singles - 4 Tandems - 4 Private Boats

Jan 10 - 16 Singles - 5 Tandems - 6 Private Boats

Both trips were sold out, with waitlists, but a number of people did not show up at check in!

Travel Time: Drive time from Southern Trace to the put in point was approximately 45-50 minutes. Directions were good and the drive easy.

Because of member demand two trips were planned. Al Letch coordinated the January 9th trip and Mickey Jensen coordinated the January 10th trip.

Boat Rentals:

Kayaks and shuttle service was provided by Aardvark Florida Kayak Company, Crystal River. Equipment is first class and in excellent condition. Matt and Susan Clemons, owners, provided the guided tour through the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge for each day's trip. All equipment was at the put in point ready for us when we arrived. Matt and Susan assisted all paddlers with getting into their boats without mishap.

Weather conditions:

January 9th and January 10th both started out at a very cold 42 degrees and strong breeze but quickly warmed up to comfortable high 50's. The sun was bright but the strong breeze continued throughout the day.

The River & Terrain:

The Chass is spring fed which provides clear visibility. Sandy bottoms allow good opportunity for watching fish and manatee. It is a very picturesque and wild area. This trip is a round trip loop and included plans to paddle up the Salt River and Potters Creek. The group on Tuesday the 9th was able to paddle up into Salt Creek, but not Potter's. The paddle lasted 3½ or more hours, and most everybody was glad to head to the restaurant!
On Wednesday the 10th, the wind caused the water levels to drop to unaccepted paddle levels and some were forced to get out of their boats and walk through the shallow waters. Both the Salt and Potters Creek visits were scrubbed. Matt and Susan also pulled several boats with paddlers still on board through shallow areas. Because of the difficulty with paddling, the Wednesday trip was cut short and lasted about 2 ½ hours.

Wildlife Sightings:

A few typical river birds, to include pelicans, anhinga, black vultures, turkey vultures, wood ducks, cranes and heron were spotted. A pair of manatees was spotted on Wednesday. Turtles and gators must have stayed indoors close to the fire. There were some river otters and raccoons along the shore line.

Group Enjoyment & Difficulty:

Because of the current, low water levels and round trip routing, it required some stamina to complete the trip. Please note comments above regarding shallow water which was a disappointment for many as it was difficult to paddle in these conditions. Through discussions with Matt I learned that the wind was the contributing factor to the water levels rather than tide. Both trips were planned at mid tide rather than low tide as some thought. If the club decides to take this trip again, the conditions need to be monitored very closely right up to the Village departure time to avoid the shallow water issues in the future.

Post Trip Lunch:

We met at Crackers in Crystal River and sat outside on the patio in the sun. The food and service were very good, and it was a great day for an outdoor lunch, telling stories of challenging paddles and trips.

Respectfully Submitted
Mickey Jensen, Al Letch

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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