And we’ re on to Day 3 of our expedition on the Suwannee River. The first thing I remember about this morning was waking up about 5:15 a.m. and feeling the cold encroaching in on me as I slept in my sleeping bag( remember 20 degree bag), and curling up into a ball was not even working. I got out of the tent and headed for the bathroom portables, looking and listening for any sign that Jeff was stirring…. nothing. I arrived at the bathroom portables to find that the “wallshaker” air unit had the bathroom at 70 degrees- TOASTY!! I took a hot shower to wake up and enjoyed about a 40 minute break from the BELOW 20 degree temps. outside. My CORE needed that.
When I got back around 6:15 a.m., I woke Jeff and told him to go warm up in the bathroom. He took my word for it and headed for the portables. I began getting my stove fired up as Jeffs’ MSR Dragonfly stove was malfunctioning and not working properly. When Jeff returned we enjoyed a hot bowl of Oatmeal together and some more instant coffee. Beautiful morning: Really Cold but beautiful!!!! After breakfast & camp breakdown we packed up and headed down to the launching deck to get our kayaks packed and on the water. Jeff says ” Sean, check it out!” and holds up pieces of ice that had formed around his hatch covers on his Necky Chatham kayak. We each took a “symbolic” bite from the ice and finished loading our gear and got onto the water about 9:15 a.m.
Goodbye! Holton Creek River Camp- Dowling Park Camp, Here we come! This day would prove to be our longest and most tiring day of paddling of the entire trip. We paddled for what seamed like 6 hours straight- more like 3. never really stopping for lunch, but snacking on Peanut Butter/ Trail Mix and whatever else we could eat and still continue to paddle with. On this section of the trip we met with the Withlacoochee River(North) where it runs into the Suwannee just north of Suwannee River State Park. Not as strong a run off as with the previous days meeting with the Alapaha River. We stopped to rest for 10 minutes at the Suwannee River State Park.
We continued our journey down the river and started to notice the change in the river and scenery. The river starts to get wide and the banks get lower also the trees start to change from Oaks and Pines(hardwood forest) to Tupelo and Willows and become more numerous right at the waters edge. We saw 2 snakes on this day along the bank; a juvenile Black Rat Snake & either a Water Snake(non-poisonous) or some sort of Black Racer or Indigo Snake. This part of the river we began to have the dreaded “are we making headway/ where is the camp already” feelings of being on the water so long. Still very scenic but for me not as interesting as the beginning of the paddle.
When we finally reached Dowling Park River Camp it was around 6:30 p.m. all told we had paddled around 27-28 miles give or take a 1/4 of a mile. And had been on the river for around 9 hours and 15 minutes. We were so glad to see the camp, another 15 minutes and I think we would have slept in our kayaks sitting straight up!!!!
We liked the chickees here because they were about 20 feet off the ground on stilts. Neat change. I fired up the stove as Jeff unpacked our camp and we had a dinner that Jeff prepared– funny story– Jeff made me Cajun Salmon and wild rice(Mountain House), what he didn’ t tell me was the real name of dinner– Cajun Salmon INFERNO!!!! He just sat there waiting till I got the third bite in—– @%*?ing SPICY HOT!! WE BOTH GOT A GOOD LAUGH AFTER THAT!! We also had to eat a second dinner to get our calorie intake back up after the long days paddle and exposure to the elements- and to put out the fire in my mouth!(Chicken & mashed potatoes).
Soon as dinner was done I played solitaire for awhile and we both called home to check in then fell asleep rather quickly after that. WHEW, Long Day is over!!! Next posting on Day 4 due out after the weekend. Can ‘t wait to tell you about Peacock Slough River Camp- something special to me.
Thank You for reading and following along–Sean