There are several river in Florida that quickly transports you into the past. Hillsborough River is one local river in Tampa Florida that can quickly erases the stress of living in a city.
This time Toni and I gained access to the river at the Hillsborough River State Park. At the time of this post the admission fee was $4. The park rangers have always been helpful to me and my guests with information about the depth and speed of the water.
At the time of this winter paddle the water was two feet below the normal river level. Knowing this we did not paddle up stream to see the rapids. We chose to paddle down stream to the “Seventeen-Runs”.
The air temperature was in the mid 70s Fahrenheit. With the water being low we got to see more of the rustic environment. It was if we were seeing this river for the first time.
Tony is a professional fisherman who excels in paddling. He has placed in several competitions and he has earned the support of several sponsors. Ocean Kayak is one of his sponsors.
As Tony looked around we saw many things. Below is an image I rarely get a chance to see. On two fallen trees were an alligator and turtle warming themselves. The last time I saw an alligator and turtle together the turtle was an evening snack.
Tony and I both had the same idea, yum. Since he was in a sit-on-top he quickly scrambled up the side of the bank and up the tree. It was like an old Tarzan movie, or something you would see on Survivor Man. With one hand on the tree he started throwing oranges at me.
I guess you had to be there. They looked and smelled perfect. Free of pesticides, these oranges were totally organic. I was aware that farmers usually graft oranges to improve their quality.
Well pealing into the first one was clear that this tree needed no human intervention to make it a great orange. We were both intoxicated by the smell. And the taste, wow, what a taste.
It was a cross between a lime and a grapefruit. It was so strong that it made our lips tingle. I successfully enjoyed half of the juice on one wild orange. My mouth was numb for an hour.
After that bit we continued to paddle to “Seventeen-Runs”. This is the most rustic point. On any given paddle a kayaker may come across a tree blocking their path. There are also a lot of meandering switchback river trails. So a person needs to get to this point early in the day. You do not want to be paddling this at night. That could be why there is a sign that reads “abandon all hope ye who enter here”. We explored this part a little bit. Then we turned around and headed back.
It was a great day. If you do not have a kayak you can also rent a canoe at the state park. I do not know the cost. but I know the staff will give you the info over the phone.