Wekiva River Trip Report


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Ted Wendel | VCKC
Published Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Date: February 22, 2005

Location: Wekiva Springs State Park to Katies Landing

Number of Paddlers: Approx 68

Boats Rentals: 19 canoes; 7 single kayaks and 7 tandem kayaks. Five private boats

Travel Time From La Hacienda Center: An hour and a quarter, per the directions in the destination report and carpooling worked well.

Trip Length: 10+ Miles took 4 1/2 or more hours to do (see below)

Boat Rentals:

The Wekiva Springs State Park concessionaire had sufficient number of boats for our numbers, see destination report for more specifics to include prices and shuttle service. The boats were in very good condition. They had one shuttle (school) bus that held over 40 people. The shuttle back from Katies to the park was about 20 miles and took less than a half hour. Rental canoes and private boats were not trailered with the bus and that caused the one private boat owner (that I am aware of) to wait probably 20 minutes for his boats to be returned after we arrived. My wife and I arrived about ½ hour before the main body and filled out most of the rental registration forms to expedite the rental process. The concessionaire required either car keys, photo ID or credit card as security for the rentals. They also indicated that their contract with the State would not permit them to send us the rental forms in advance to speed things up.

My wife and I alphabetized the forms by types of rental and helped hand them out. Despite this, once the main body arrived, the line to sign the form and pay got long and took maybe 20 minutes to end. Because of State restriction on the concessionaire, I can't think of a way around this in the future. Pre-payment wouldn't help that much as the forms still need to be signed and security given. The concessionaire did have a limited number of river maps but due to our size and other rentals - they ran out towards the end. River maps are only meant to give an overview picture of the river and not make everything so specific that the mystery and anticipation of what lays beyond each twist and turn is gone.

Weather Conditions:

 The day was mostly overcasts with rains predicted for later in the week. Around 1PM the sun broke through the clouds but there was always some cloud cover. The temperatures were in the lower to mid 70s for most of the trip. There was a light and refreshing breeze at times through out the trip.

The River and Terrain:

The river has changed as a result of the hurricane that hit this area this past season. Downfall was everywhere and to such extent that it may take years to return this river to some degree or normalcy. We did this river last February and found it to be easy to navigate with the length and wind being the only problems encountered. The first mile of the river involved contending with downfall just below the water. Kayaker had less troubles getting hung-up on submerged obstacles because of their lower draft than canoes. Problems with water obstacles continued throughout the trip. Our group were told to turn around by one island because of obstacles. It turned out that there was passage and much better than the course we took. We encountered a large downfall that blocked our way. We determined that boats could go under it, one at a time but that the paddlers had to lie down. I was in the lead and from the other side of the downfall helped boats get through. One boat tipped when the paddler in the stern reached behind him to pull down the seat back of his seat cushion. Four to six boats tipped to include people on the water who were not part of our club. After this obstacle, the river was in better condition. The Route 46 bridge was a welcome sight but we still had a mile to paddle, and it was a long and difficult mile because the river was barely 3 inches deep and very difficult to paddle into.

This is a true wilderness trip. Like last year, many commented that it was hard to believe that we were not all that far from very populated and congested area. The only sounds of this civilization were an occasional airplane from Orlando and Sanford airports. It was only towards the end of the trip that we encountered riverside homes.

Wildlife Sightings:

We passed at least two alligators. One was about 5- to 6-feet long and had a much smaller one nearby. Both were basking in the little sunlight. We saw some large birds, not sure what kind but they were beautiful. Turtles were everywhere, and near the end of the trip, mullets were jumping out of the water - I think most were too busy with the river to notice.

Group Enjoyment and Difficulty Rating:

We were not prepared for the difficulties we faced throughout this trip which at times, may have seemed unconquerable to some of us, especially based on the paths we took and the challenges we seek. I hope that most look back on The Wekiva as the type of challenge that leaves you feeling a growth of self confidence. While originally rated for beginners, I would now only recommend it for those with good to excellent paddling skills. I do not recommend this river for a normal club trip until we are assured that the downfall has been cleared. I am sure this trip will be remembered and talked about for sometime to come.

Group Safety:

This trip proved the necessity for many of the safety and personal items that club officials have talked about:

Wear you PFD
Wear a Whistle
Bring Rope
Secure Personal Items
Have a Bailer and Sponge
Paddle in Groups

Ted Wendel

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008



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