Withlacoochee River Trip Report

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Ted | VCKC
Published Thursday, December 1, 2005

Date: December 1, 2005

Twenty-three brave and stout club members made this paddle on a typical late fall Florida morning. We departed our rally point (Southern Trace Shopping Area) at our planned departure time of 8:15 AM and arrived at the Outfitters (Rainbow River Canoe and Kayak Rentals) just about an hour later. It's easy to forget little things like delays for School Buses when retired. We had plenty of time at the Outfitter for all to make their last potty break before being shuttled down to the 11 mile Put-In which is perhaps 1/2 mile up Route 39 from Route 200. Club members paddled in canoes, single and some tandem Sit-In Kayaks. The outfitter recommended the Sit-In kayaks as they offer some protection from the cold air and water. There were no private boats on this trip.

We began the Put-In and trip at around 10 AM with air temperatures in the mid 60s which didn't rise much beyond that reading for the remainder of the trip. Within minutes after Put-In I saw paddlers removing jackets as their body temperatures rose with exercise. The air was cool and crisp, the sky was that bright fall blue, and the leaves on the trees showed some color and were falling onto the surface of the water. All this reminded me of fall paddles I've done in lower New York State. The wind (strong breeze) was a factor especially for those in canoes for large sections of the trip - perhaps the only weather related drawback.

This is my first paddle on this section of the Withlacoochee River (South) and my first time on this river in about a year. It is not a narrow river but not as wide (perhaps) as the Santa Fe and perhaps in appearance what I would imagine lower portions of the Suwannee River to be like. All write-ups described this section of the With, which passes through the border of the State Forest to be a forest or wilderness trip. With that, I was both surprised and a little disappointed to see as many riverside homes (on our right side) as we did. While not as congested as the Crystal and Rainbow rivers, I prefer rivers that have no visible homes (something that, unfortunately is changing with progress).

We did see some bird life to include a few sections of the river where large (size and numbers) of Turkey Vultures were perching in trees and eyeing us with more than a passing interest. My group also spotted some Hawks and other birdlife. We also caught sight of a few turtles sunning themselves on fallen trees. At one point, I was by another boat when some very large fish, could have been a fresh water sea serpent, rolled just above the water by us. While I could not identify it, it looked like it was a good 2 feet long.

Funny, how new Outfitters chuckle when I tell them that our club members tend to complete rivers quickly. Both over the phone and in person, the Outfitter told us that it would take 4 to 6 hrs to complete this paddle and as we were doing the 11 mile trip (a 9 mile trip is the alternative) that we should plan on being on the water for at least 5 hours.

We put in a little after 10 and arrived at the Take-Out (his location) at just after 2PM. I'm not quite sure why, as a club, we paddle faster than Outfitters plan, but it has been a consistent factor for our club trips. I just hope that in our strength of paddle that we are missing out on the beauty of the river and passing scenery.

All completed this 11 mile trip with out any incidents. The wind certainly affected all, especially the canoeists who suffered from their higher profiles on the water. The Take-Out was a welcomed sight and was easy to find, and so we ended a delightful fall paddle on a slow and southern waterway.

Just about everyone joined us at Stumpknockers (named after tiny fish that hang out by the submerged stumps of Cyprus trees). Their grouper plate was fantastic; the service was wonderful; and we all enjoyed each others' company before the drive home and a much deserved rest.

Paddle safely and enjoy our wonderful waters.

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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