Wekiva River Trip Report


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Ted | VCKC
Published Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More than 50 paddlers joined us for our annual trip on this exciting river. The directions given were straight forward, and the traffic on Route 441 wasn't too bad, so we arrived pretty much on schedule.

By special arrangement, we were able to simplify the payment and rental procedures, eliminating requiring each member to sign their forms, pay for the trip and leave some form of security (car keys/credit card) for each rental, a method that created extensive delays!

He were able to have all members sign a rental/waiver form that we created and pay the club for the boats. The concessionaire allowed me to present the signed forms and a club check for total payment. I then signed one form on behalf of all participants, leaving my car keys for security. This process resulted in a 30 second registration and allowed all to go directly to the Put-In location. We are attempting to do this with all trips, saving lots of time at put in's.

We started putting in boats at about 9:30 am, and about 20 minutes later, all were away! This nicely staggered the flow of boats on the water, given our total numbers.

The river was in much better shape this year than during last year's trip. While there was still evidence of the hurricanes of 2004 that ravished the area, the downfall that contributed to serious problems last year no longer existed. The weather, however, threw us a left jab by providing a good 20-minute rain along the way. At least there was no accompanying thunder and lightning, and the sun finally shined upon us, and it turned into a nice day. To my memory, this was the first time our club has ever gotten caught in a downpour while on the river!

The Wekiva River presents a great picture of how wild Florida must have looked before civilization. Minutes from the dock you are transported to another world. The passing scenery makes one think of distant times and places. Oaks, maples and cypress trees, as well as a wide variety of palm trees mark this river. Vines hang down to the water and Spanish moss is everywhere. The woods are truly dark and deep and cast mysterious reflections off the water.

The trip begins near the Wekiva Springs, creating a nice 3+ MPH current throughout the trip. Water depth varies to mere inches to probably no more than 6 to 8 feet. It's easy to forget the current until you notice the bent over vegetation in the water or watch the swiftly passing scenery. Toward the latter part of the trip, the river widens and becomes shallow, making paddling more difficult and strenuous. I must say paddling in a kayak made the trip less strenuous than paddling a canoe!

We saw 2 alligators snoozing on the banks, including one about 7 feet long near the end of the trip. There were a few turtles along the way, and my small group was thrilled by a large fish that seemed to be trying to jump out of the water and into our boat. Group members saw many beautiful birds as well, including some great Blue Herons on the wing and fishing in the shallows. White Ibis, ducks and other species were also spotted.

I stopped with a group of paddlers at Buffalo Tram which is marked on the river map. It's about 1 ½ hrs from the Put-In on the left bank. There are the remains of some support pylons jutting into the river, and if you look to the left of these the area is marked by a large brown metal sign. The “beach” area can accommodate about 8 boats. A second rest stop was about an hour or so further, and appears to be a park like area; (I did not stop there). Other than these, there are only a few spots to get off the river, and these offered space for only one or two boats.

The Take-Out is a mile, or approximately a 20 minute paddle, after passing under the Route 46 Bridge. Katie's Landing is on the right bank and was a welcomed sight for many after a rigorous paddle!

Only one (hopefully) correctable glitch of the trip came after the paddle. The outfitter was requested to have the first shuttle bus at the take-out at 1PM, which they agreed to. We also discussed that if possible, someone if the front of the group would call when we hit the Route 46 Bridge. While I had planned on being at the front of the paddlers to scout for possible problems, I swapped sweep with Al and stayed toward the rear for possible assistance to slower and perhaps less capable paddlers.

A substantial number had reached the take out, and the shuttle did not arrive as promised. Al called when he reached the landing, and found that the bus was on the way. Since the bus only held slightly more than half our group, the remainder had to wait about an hour for the bus to return. Additionally, the outfitter did not give priority to transporting private boats, a service that they had paid for, and that further delayed things for all to complete the trip. Although not anticipated, these problems need to be addressed if we are to work with this outfitter in the future.

Because of time delay between shuttles, we did not all eat at the Catfish Place Restaurant at the same time. The first group had eaten and left by the time the second group arrived. The food and service were great and the prices were reasonable…a stop certainly worth repeating, and a good spot to visit if you are hungry in Apopka!

Over a well deserved cold beer, one seasonal member mentioned that this was his second trip with the club, the first being last year's trip on the Wekiva! I was impressed that he came back for a second paddle on this great and much improved river, given the difficulties of last year's trip!

Paddle Safely,
Ted

Last update Friday, April 11, 2008



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