Friday, November 20, 2015

Paddling on the Econ River (Snow Hill Rd.)

Econ River-1There are a lot of hiking trails around Central Florida, but there are also a lot of paddling trails.  I’ve been wanting to take a look at the world from a different perspective for awhile now, so I finally bought a kayak.  Today’s trip (my first that didn’t involve a rental) took me upstream from Snow Hill Rd. on the Econlockhatchee River.Tree across the river-2

The Kayak that I bought is a Future Beach Fusion.  It’s a sit-inside type, and has the features that I was looking for (cup holder, deck straps, and a large dry well).  I’m very happy with it, but I also expected that I would learn a few things about the kayak itself on my maiden voyage.  I was right – the one downside is the seat – by the end of my 4.5 mile trip, my back was killing me.  I’m really not surprised by this, as it seems to be one of the things that a lot of people upgrade.  I also learned that this kayak is very easy to maneuver; there were a few places along this trip where trees across the river had me squeezing through some tight spots and some very shallow spots.

Hiking bridgeMy trip started off at the Snow Hill Rd. trailhead, and from there I headed upstream.  My plan was to make it to the hiking bridge that was about two miles away and stop there for lunch.  It only took a couple of hours to get there, and that was with a few breaks along the way.Gator sunning

After lunch, the trip back as much more interesting.  Since I was going with the current, most of my return trip was spent drifting silently; this is when I saw most of the wildlife.  There was one spot where an alligator was sunning itself along the bank with only it’s head submerged.  From a distance, it looked like a palm trunk, but as I passed by I finally saw it’s head and eyes.

Cooter sunningI also saw what I think was a group of baby alligators (about 12 inches long).  They moved pretty quickly as they ran to the water and swam out of site, so I can’t be sure.  There was also a Leatherback turtle sitting on one stump, and a Cooter sunning itself on another log.

Hanging on to the shoreSo on my maiden voyage, I learned that the trip downstream is the best for photography.  In addition to being much quieter and not scaring away the wildlife, there’s a lot less worry about dropping the phone in the water.

So now I have another way to get out and enjoy some of the natural areas in Florida, and as I build my paddling muscles I’m sure I’ll start making longer trips.  As always, the map at the end of this post shows where the photos were taken, and you can click on the “Trip Details” link below it to view the technical details or download a gpx file.

Launch point Tree across the river-1 Old oak with moss
Leatherback Turtle Tree across the river-1 Econ River-1
Econ River-2 Econ River-3 Econ River-4
Econ River-5 Econ River-6 Econ River-7

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