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Monday I picked up Chuck R. at his house and drove up to the St Mary’s RV Park and Fish Camp on Hwy 1 heading into GA from Jacksonville. We arrived about noon. I do this paddle at least twice a year, as it is a great shuttle, paddle and river camping. Chuck and I were on the water around 1:30. The weather was forecast for days in the low 80’s and evenings in the 60’s with little chance of rain. Steve works with the county to keep an open waterway either by getting civil servants to cut paths through the down trees or he sends his guys up river and cuts a path.
Over the 60 miles on this trip we encountered one pull around of about 100 feet and two spots where we got out of our canoes and dragged for maybe ten feet. Monday was overcast which made for nice paddling. Each evening we found a great sandbar to camp on and had ample firewood. The river had returned to its normal levels after hurricane Wilma so we paddled with little current for most of the 60 miles.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings were clear skis with a nice half moon. The river forms the border between FL. And GA and we are paddling north most of the trip. I think we camped on the GA. sandbars each night. The only company we had was about one fishing boat a day. Chuck saw one baby gator and we saw usual wading birds and a rare Red Tailed Hawk . We took it easy and were setting up camp between 1:30 and 3:30 each day.
We finished Friday by noon and after a nice shower were on our way home. Although we did the 60-mile trip it can be shortened to 49 miles if you put in at Stokes Bridge. There are also several forest road take-outs and about five miles from the fish camp is a GA. County Park Trader Hill.
I first discovered the St. Mary’s three years ago and with the river, sandbars and shuttle it has become one of my favorite paddles, which I do at least twice a year. Although Florida Greenways and Trails list this trip as 51 miles our GPS's are consistent at 60 miles.
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