No need to waste time with the formal greetings, lets get to the story telling! Day 2 begins like this: Jeff and I awoke to decent temperatures around 35 degrees fahr.- they were decent temperatures because of the awesome sleeping bags we had rated to 15 and 20 degrees which kept us quite toasty all night. We got up with minimal moaning and groaning. Next, Jeff and I fired up our MSR Stoves and heated up the water for our instant oatmeal & coffee. As we sat in our “chickee”, we enjoyed breakfast in the woods with the rest of the wildlife. It is amazing how good simple oatmeal and instant coffee taste in the quiet morning wilderness before a day of paddling!?!?
We broke camp and were on the water by 10:oo a.m., the temps. still in the low to mid 40’s. The sun was shining bright on this day and made for a beautiful late morning paddle to the entrance of the Alapaha River where it meets up with the Suwannee. AWESOME slide slip Jeff and I both did as we played in the current where the two rivers meet. I could’ nt help but smile a BIG GRIN as Jeff and I both played(ferrying) back and forth in the current for a couple minutes before resuming our paddle, headed to our second river camp- Holton Creek.
We stopped for a quick lunch of Lipton Instant Soup- DID I MENTION IT WAS HOT SOUP!!! Really hit the spot. We continued paddling on down the river, making really good time. We passed several small waterfalls and an old Spring House that looked like something the Spaniards had built, complete with arches; on the south side of the river. Jeff & I stopped there to snap a few pictures- which I hope to eventually get on the site!!
Also at some point during the day we were paddling and a USO hit my kayak!!!! Whats a USO you ask— Unidentified Swimming Object! Something swam up and bumped my kayak really hard. I know, I know it was probably a log right? Well it lifted me out of the water and I was teetering on its back until it decided to lower me and swim away. Jeff said he saw me on the back of something and it did lower me. I actually saw the swirl it left as it swam away. Don’ t know what it was, too cold for Gators, too far up river for Manatees, too early for Sturgeons????
As we paddled the last 3-4 miles of the day we came upon a familiar spot in the river– the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch. I have to explain that it was very sentimental to me because # 1 my Dad was a Sheriffs Deputy here in Pinellas County for 25 years and I could’ nt help but think about the countless young men & women, he & law enforcement everywhere have helped to straighten out their lives and become productive members of society. Reason #2 would be the simple fact that, I had stood at this very boat ramp as an 8 year old filled with wonderment and adventure daydreaming of what might lie down river and especially what creatures lurked just below the surface. Really neat to actually be living out one of my childhood dreams(at 36 yrs. old)!!! My family has owned land just off the river since 1978 and here I was finally getting to see the river in great length and detail, words can not describe the flood of feelings– WAY TOO COOL!!!!!
After another 45 minutes or so we arrived at Holton Creek River Camp(18 miles roughly from Woods Ferry Camp) and unpacked our gear, set up our tents for the night in our 2nd chickee. We got the stoves fired up and ate a Mountain House Dinner- forgive me I forgot which one it was, maybe a pasta and Turkey? We then settled in for the night as this would be one of the coldest we had on the trip. We could not wait to get in the sleeping bags and escape the cold. If I had to pick a favorite camp on the river this would have been it. Just a neat camp setup and nostalgic the way the forest let in the setting suns rays and morning light.
I would have to say Day 1 and 2 were my favorite parts of the river, very wild & very scenic. But there is still more to come so check back in a couple of days for the Day 3 posting. There is ICE involved on morning 3!!!!
-Sea Turtle Sean