Econlockhatchee (Econ) River Trip Report

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Ted | VCKC
Published Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Approximately 23 club members participated in this much anticipated return to The Econ, a river devastated by the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Our last trip on the Econ was in July 2003 and I, for one, could not wait to reawaken my memories. Despite being on the east side of Orlando and just south of Sanford, we could have been in some distant tropical land. I could not wait to paddle between the ancient Cypress Trees as my memories and photos show of our 2003 trip. My wife and I kept waiting for this experience only to learn from the Outfitter at the end of the trip that our last paddle was on a different (southern) section of the Econ. Despite that, it was a great trip and I got to discover a new section of this primal river.

It was a hot summer morning as we arrived at the Put-In and the outfitter was waiting for us. Hidden Valley RV Center, our Outfitter, had good Old Towne canoes and fair recreational kayaks.

In preparing for the trip, the outfitter asked if our members had their own kayak paddles, an odd question but one that proved valid within minutes of put-in. The outfitter, like all, did supply paddles but they were non-adjustable feathered types that some members had difficulty using. This, coupled with the nature of the kayaks (Recreational kayaks are okay for kids on placid ponds but are not very stable due to their short length), resulted in one kayaker capsizing shortly after we put in. I would suggest we do not rent their kayaks again, unless they offer conventional paddles, at least.

The Econ passes through the Little Big Econ State Forest, which protects it from urban sprawl. There were riverside homes, however, to diminish our feeling of isolation from civilization. Some on this paddle were rewarded by sighting bald eagles as well as an occasional alligator. Some paddled within a dozen feet of a good 10 to 12 footer that kept a careful eye on us as it swam across the river. Speaking for only myself, this was a wonderful experience and a reminder that we were the intruders.

The Outfitter stated that while there were no obstacles we couldn't paddle around, we found that the first couple of miles of the trip were challenging to navigate around the downfall caused by past storms. A couple of canoes capsized during this stretch but all were able to right their boats and continue. Once through this “challenging” section, the river became more manageable.

We completed the 8 or so miles of the Econ in just over 3 hours, far short of the Outfitter's expectation of 4 to 5 hrs but following his instructions we called (cell phone) as we reached a foot bridge that spanned the river about 2 miles from the take-out, and he arrived just as the first group of paddlers arrived. The take-out was just under the bridge over Snow Hill Road but we had to pull the boats up a rather steep incline. All pitched in to assist, so we managed okay.

Lunch at the advertised Beef O'Brady's and the first cold beer was a greatly anticipated end of a great day on the Econ.

Paddle Safely, Ted

Last update Friday, April 11, 2008

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