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I was in town on a business trip and convinced a co-worker to join me on this paddling trip. We rented a pair of kayaks and set out on their intermediate length day trip, "the 7 miler". Aside from one sizeable tree down at the very beginning, we had an absolutely fabulous time. The water was a tad high and the clarity wasn't its usual "crystal clear"-ness because the area recently received something in the neighborhood of 3x the normal seasonal rainfall amounts in the past few weeks. Even so, the trip was everything a GREAT trip should be--quiet, warm enough to swim in nearly-clear water, full of great photo opportunities and bug-free! (a rarity in Florida!)
The area is still in recovery from last year's hurricane Ivan, thus accounting for most of the downed trees. The water clarity is darker than normal because of the cypress trees and an enormous amount of rain in recent weeks-it is the color of weak tea in the deepest areas. The shallows remain clear and the bottom visible in all but the deepest holes.
In speaking with the outfitting staff, they reported that they were working diligently alongside local paddling groups to clear the primary paddling areas of the river of fallen trees from the 2004 hurricane season. They were well informed of the river conditions, any potential hazards, and areas of concern. Our 7-mile trip was free of obstructions aside from the one tree at the beginning, an easy obstacle to dodge.
Being a fastidious paddler and unable to paddle past garbage/refuse on a river, we spent the afternoon drifting, paddling and picking up cans/trash off of the numerous nearly pristine "beaches" and sand bars. Recent high water uncovered old debris and shook loose some new stuff, all ready to find its way into my boat and eventually, the garbage can. Itís indescribably rewarding to come home from a trip knowing you left it cleaner than it was just earlier that day. The dock and store staff was overwhelmingly appreciative of our efforts as well.
YakCatcher Rod Holder