We were on this trip to kick back,
relax and enjoy the outdoors so we were not paddling fast. By checking the times
Van and Rusty helps with my canoe, putting in at Big Shoals - Lower campsite. Note the gully. It goes straight to the water and is full of leaves and pine needles, so we just slide the canoe down the hill almost to the water, it practically goes by itself. Threw the misc. stuff in any old way (messy) and carried the heavy stuff down to make sure the bottom was not scuffed. It made it fine.
My new cedar stripper canoe. Ever see a canoe on the river with an umbrella? Don't laugh. It worked fine. His old age dictates he gets special favors. On the last trip last year it was very hot. Had to kept him wet down. Shade umbrella keeps him comfortable. Worked great until we had head wind, then it had to come down. Had to overload the stern to get the balance I wanted.
The purpose of this log is to give you paddling times between points. By adding and subtracting times, you should get some idea of the campsites and where to expect good sites and where there are none. Obviously, this first part is of no value. Only for our own information regarding driving times. If there are no mention of sites, there are none, as in the upper river between the Shoals and Hwy 6 bridge.
Left Cocoa at 2:30 Sunday, the 16th.
Arrived at Spirit of Suwannee Campground at 6:55 216 miles from our home town of Cocoa.
Camped in site 43 to be reasonably close to the bath house.
Set up tents and went to supper at Dixie Grill at
8:15 PM Great supper! Stuffed!
Returned to site and in sack at 9:30
Up at 7:00 AM
Went to breakfast at Dixie Grill at 7:30
Broke camp and went to Outfitter at 9:10
Were completely loaded, canoes and gear at 10:00
Waited for George (another paddler who was supposed to come with us on the river) until 12:45. . . never showed, never called. Left without him.
Left Outpost (outfitter) at 1:00
Loaded and on the water at 2:30
Arrived at first campsite at 5:30. Normally is 4 hours but didn’t stop for lunch or break.
Had camp set up by 7:00
Had supper, No campfire, mosquitoes were out but not bad at all, We were all pooped and tired, all in sack by 9:00 PM
Up at 6:45 . . . solid overcast, cool. Light dew . . . but not too bad, just enough to dampen tents.
Got on water Tuesday morning at 8:50
Arrived at Cone Bridge ramp at 9:34
There were a few nice campsites below Cone bridge ramp on the right, (at this low water) but not many. Failed to document them with time since I had never seen them before and didn't think about it.
Arrived at Big Shoals pull out at 3:15 . . . again did not stop for break or lunch.
During unloading at the Shoals pull out. . . John fell and injured his leg quite badly and lost a lot of blood (over a pint before we got it stopped) so we made him sit while Van and I did all of the portaging of gear to the lower campsite. A real bitch having to load then unload and reload each canoe a second time at the damaged area of the road, so we could get the canoes through. Lots of extra work.
We got everything portaged to the site by 6:30 . . . appears it took about one hour per canoe to portage, and we had 3.
We all kicked back to relax . . . Van and I were pooped. Did not begin setting up tents until about 7:15 . After a good rest and “strong toddy” set up and had supper.
We were all in the sack by 8:45 Rusty checked the camp growling, several times during the night.
Up Wednesday morning at 6:30, had breakfast and broke camp, putting in from this site is much easier than the others, especially at low water.
On the water next morning at 9:05. REMEMBER, we were doing everything leisurely, not in a rush
Passed over 3 or 4 shallow shoals that were not bad. Nice little ride.
Arrived at first shoals above Little Shoals at 10:45. This one looked ominous, and required a close examination. We pulled out and took a good look.
Found the “Chute” and told the other two
what looked the best, but John refused to run them, and
talked Van into lining canoes over the rocks and shallows.
There were two more smaller rapids below that, about a couple hundred yards apart which were not as bad. The last one was worse but not nearly as bad as the first one.
Little shoals normally is a real bear, and dangerous since it is tricky, but the water was so low the chutes were plainly visible and the bad area on the right was above water. We got through it with no problem. Had the water been a foot or two higher, it would have been a real problem.
We talked John into pulling out at Hwy 41 ramp due to seriousness of his injury. There was a good chance he might have gotten an infection in his wound. He agreed.
I walked to the
small store above the 41 ramp and got ice and hamburgers (they
have great hamburgers . . . one of the best) for us all, and called
David * at the Outpost and told him we needed a pickup at the ramp and why,
we had just finished lunch when he arrived and loaded John for the trip back to Live Oak.
After eating lunch and helping load John’s gear, it was 11:50 when we got back on the water.
About 300 yards below the ramp we hit the first small shoals. Not bad at all. Nice to run.
There were a couple smalls ones shortly after, also not bad.
Passed Stephen Foster Memorial park gazebo at 2:06
About 3:00 PM the wind came up and we began paddleing into a hard head wind. Closed Rusty's umbrella.
We arrived at our usual campsite 8 miles below the ramp, at 4:50 . . . discovered that ACA is now using this campsite as a pull out for his customers, though it was not a problem. Site is easily visible now since ACA has painted the trees and hung flags all over, etc. Also, there was a family that had walked in, and were cat fishing. They caught over a dozen after we arrived. So apparently the cat fishing is good on the river.
Had supper done by 7:00 PM and kicked back and watched the fisherman catch fish.
Was in the sack about 8:30.
Up at 7:00 Thursday morning, had breakfast and broke camp.
Back on the water at 8:45
Right around the bend from the campsite there are about 3 or 4 small rapids (at this water level). We passed Louisa Springs (on the right) at 9:15
We went under Hwy 75 bridge at 9:25 AM.
About 10:10, we came to a wonderful large sandbar on the right, which was perfect and flat sugar sand and nice and clean. Big enough to handle at least 15 to 20 tents. Best site we came to on the whole trip. Super site. Nicest site I have seen on the river in years.
Location of this site is about ¼ to ½ mile below a bunch of houses (on the left, that had 4 or 5 fishing boats with motors, moored on the river. Not sure it they are full time residences or not. They are on high banks, and in the middle of a river bend, to the right.
After stretching and photographing the site, etc. we were back on the river at 10:30
We arrived at Woods Ferry Campground at 11:00 AM This is one that can’t be missed. It is a huge structure, long fancy wooden ramp (very expensive) on the left. We had been told about this place by Ed McCook of Suwannee River Water Management, and that it had hot showers. So we had planned on stopping here for a hot shower and clean clothes. There was a sandy space below the ramp good for two or three canoes. Everything was nice, new and clean. Though walking up this long ramp to the top was a chore, it was a heavenly stop.
Had lunch in the shade of their ramp and back on the water at 12:20
We passed our previous old campsite we call the “Cubby Hole” at 12:46
At 12:59 we passed a real nice large sand bar on the left. . . that would make a nice campsite, and another one only a few minutes more on the right.
At 1:30 we passed another huge sand bar on the left that is also a nice campsite.
Another huge sandbar on the right two minutes later.
At 1:45 another huge sandbar on left at 1:45 Took a 10 minute break to stretch and let the dog run and were back on the water at 1:55
At this time we went into the more drift than paddle mode, in the shade. Therefore, the paddle times will be longer.
At 2:35 a nice sandbar on the left. Good campsite, good for 3-4 tents and flat, right across from a large new house on the right.
Just below this site we put down for the night on the right. Pulled out about 4:30
at this site. It was not as good as some we had passed but we did some sand leveling and made do. Not too big, only room for two tents, but could work for three with a little work.
NOTE: Forgot to mention that earlier we had looked at Crooked Creek campsite as possibility for night’s campsite, however, the river has washed away all the sand from the upper pull out and also the lower pull out at the creek so it had too many rocks, so we moved on down river.
On the water Friday morning at 9:05
Two more large sandbar sites at 9:30 and 9:40
Right around the bend from these is a superb site, large, clean, flat, close to the water and superb.
Another big one at 10:30 where the high tension power wires cross the river.
10:33 we stopped for a stretch and let the dog run on a shady beach.
Back on the water about 10:45
10:55 we arrived at Suwannee Springs. Slowed for pictures and went on.
Went under the Hwy 129 bridge at 11:00
Arrived at the Canoe Outpost ramp at 11:30 Two tired old geezers but happy, it was a great trip.
I had failed to mention that the first three days we had bucked head winds, though an aggravation paddling into the wind, it was not as bad as some we have had. The rest of the trip the wind was fairly calm, and we were able to put up Rusty’s shade umbrella most of the time. He’s 11 years old so he gets special treatment. He has been my canoeing buddy for most of his life and loves to canoe and camp. He’s special.