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Spillway/Dam to Magnolia Bridge

Having spent the majority of a four-hour paddle in the rain the day before, I opted for a shorter paddle on Wednesday. Ricky drove me to the Spring Creek spillway on US 90, shoving me off

Clear Waters on Spring Creek

about 10:00 a.m., just as the sun pushed through the clouds. (Woo-hoo!) I paddled away on the clear, shallow waterway, the spillway and Mill Pond to my back. From this point, I had a two-mile paddle to Chipola River and then another two miles to the outfitter where I had left my car. (See page 2, map).

What a sweet paddle! If I lived close by, Spring Creek would be my “after work before it gets dark” paddle. This is how I would de-stress from a crazy day. (I never think about work while paddling.) Recent rains had pushed the water over the low banks of the creek and into the woods. However, it remained clear and low enough that the sandy, shell-covered bottom was within an arm’s reach. Fish scurried by below me while egrets waded in the shallows along the banks, searching for a tasty snack. The many fallen trees along this twisting, turning waterway created comfy spots for turtles to sun themselves. Birds sang cheerfully in the trees as I paddled by.

Back on the Chipola River

Less than an hour into my paddle, I saw the very distinct line where the clear waters of Spring Creek met the murky Chipola River. I had passed this point when I paddled the Chipola the day before. The sun still shone, and I was disappointed that the end of the creek had come so soon! I completed the entire trip—about four miles—in less than two hours.

(Outfitter: Bear Paw Canoe Rentals. 2100 Bear Paw Lane, Marianna, Florida 32448. (850) 482-4948)

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“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” ~Laura Gilpin

I consider myself a novice kayaker.  I’ve been kayaking for nearly two years now, and I haven’t left the Intracoastal in my backyard.  For two years, I have been saying that I need to venture out into Florida’s rivers.  Well, I’m finally doing it.

In July, I am going to spend two weeks launching my “up the river” kayak project. In those two weeks, I plan to kayak as many rivers in Florida that I can. After those two weeks, I will continue throughout the year to paddle as many rivers as possible with the ultimate goal of paddling all of Florida’s rivers. Come along with me, and share your own adventures!

I do have some help with the planning. My sources of information are the following, and I will refer to them throughout my journey:

Alden, Peter, Rick Cech and Gil Nelson.  National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1998.

Boning, Charles R. Florida’s Rivers. Sarasota: Pineapple Press, Inc., 2007.

Carter, Elizabeth F., et al. Canoeing & Kayaking Florida. 2nd ed. Birmingham: Menash Ridge Press, 2007.

Huff, Sandy. Paddler’s Guide to the Sunshine State. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001.

Ohr, Tim and Pete Carmicheal.  Florida’s Fabulous Canoe and Kayak Trail Guide.  CA: World Publications, 2008.

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