Juniper Springs Run Trip Report

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Ted | VCKC
Published Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Date of Paddle: May 24, 2005

Number of Paddlers: 49 that included 19 rental canoes

Travel Time from Mulberry Recreation Center: was as stated in the Destination Report

Trip Length: 7.5 miles and most did the trip in just over 3 hours

Boat Rentals:

The park concessionaire had a sufficient number of 15-foot aluminum canoes for our group; the boats were, for the most part, in good condition. While the outfitter indicated would have 2 shuttle vans for our group, only one was used, the driver told me that the other driver wasn't at work but he told another club member that the other van needed repairs. Shuttle time from the Take-Out back to the Park (Concessionaire) was about 10 minutes (one-way). Only criticism of the outfitter was the method of using boat number to account for paddlers - it created problems for the concessionaire and me but it more or less worked out.

Weather Conditions:

Temps were in the upper 80s but there was a nice breeze throughout the trip. We heard the sounds of distant thunder at times and there were threatening looking clouds in the sky. The rain held out until after our trip, which was good because when the rains came it was a very heavy downpour.

The River and Terrain:

This is perhaps my favorite river for its technical challenges and jungle like isolation, from the moment you enter your boat at the Put-In you get the feeling that you are starting some Disney-like wilderness ride. It is fantastic. The river is very narrow, twisty, dark and mysterious but its demands unfortunately give not time to relax and enjoy its beauty. The twists are frequent and the current is strong and there were frequent downfalls that you had to navigate under and around. At least 8 boats fell victim to these obstructions but fortunately this is not a deep river and the bottom is mostly firm sand, so bailing and getting back into the boat was not that difficult (Hey, getting wet is part of the sport and can happen to anyone!) The almost constant tree cover for the first half of the trip provided good relief from the late spring sun. At about the halfway point the river opens and widens as you enter areas of saw grass but you enter shaded areas. Throughout the trip, there were small islands and following the current always kept us on the main stream and away from dead-ends. Evidence of last season's storms was everywhere but many of the downfall issues were present during our December 2003 trip.

Wildlife Sightings:

My wife and I paddled over a gator that was in 3 feet of water and I heard reports of other sightings throughout the trip to include a 10 to 12 foot gator spotted not far from the take-out. Paddlers saw nice sized Bass, Turtles, a very huge Blue Heron, a Red-Tailed Hawk, snakes, an Osprey, and Deer.

Group Enjoyment and Difficulty Rating:

I didn't hear any complaints about this river other than it was a real workout. Considering our numbers on the river, I didn't see or hear about any major jam-ups around obstacles. I told boats to put-in in groups of 3 to 4 boats, which might have helped, relieve any feeling of congestion. I would still rate this trip as one that inexperienced paddlers should not attempt but for those with the skill, desire and stamina - it is a terrific experience.

Most of us stopped at The Blackwater Inn for lunch after the trip to unwind, dry off, and have a bite to eat. Lunch was good, the prices were reasonable and the view of the ST John was very nice. The only criticism was that we came in groups so; some were finished as others arrived.

Paddle Safely, Ted

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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