Feedback from Suwannee trip

                                                                    November 28-30, 2002                                      
                                                                      GPS updated 12/26/02                                          

                                                          By Mike Wadel  


If the music bugs ya -- turn your speakers down.


This provides a few details of our November 22-24 trip on the Suwannee River this year.

After reading all of your stuff the first thing I did was to place the SRWMD river mile markers on my topographic maps along with the boat ramps and canoe launches. Actually I started at the Ed Scott Bridge on U.S. 41 with river mile 171 and boat ramp number 48 (Hwy 41 Bridge Park) and scaled the mile markers myself (can't help it - I'm an engineer) with my map measure. I ended up with about 44.5 miles at the Suwannee River State Park which is pretty close to the 43 miles that the SRWMD came up with (171 - 128 = 43). Maybe my pace (stroke) is a little shorter. J

Then based on the times you gave and your estimated speed(s) (3 mph) I calculated the distance for a particular item (sandbar/camp) and noted this on my map. So with my compass and maps I knew exactly where I was most of the time; and during this "most of the time" I want you to know that you were right on the (my) mark!

Enough said about that dead reckoning stuff.

Friday, November 22, 2002,
River gage number 02315500 at 51.37' MSL - We stopped by American Canoe Adventures (ACA) in White Springs to let them know we were there and then proceeded on down to the put-in on U.S. 41. After we unloaded our vehicle they arrived to take it back to their store. We were underway around noon. At about 3:00 PM we called it a (paddling) day and pulled into the campsite you mentioned on your web page (White Springs to Suwannee River State Park) at 8 river miles downstream. ACA refers to this as the PCA take-out and has marked it with red, white and blue painted bands on two trees. My GPS has this spot at N3020.454' & W08249.024' which was about 0.1 mile east of where I had plotted my 8 river mile marker - close enough for government work. ACA picked us up here on our September 1, 2002, day trip. I agree about the traffic noise from I-75 as you are about a half a mile (ATCF) from that super slab at this point. Although it's a very nice campsite, because of the traffic noise I'll not stay here again unless I have to
(more about this later). We did not see your charcoal-on-log existing fire ring request.

Saturday, November 23, 2002,
River gage at 51.42' - Ice on the canoe, toilet seat and the Coleman stove this morning. We were underway again around noon. We passed the SRWMD Woods Ferry Tract Canoe Launch (# 47) on river left just past about 12 river miles downstream of the 41 bridge. I believe we saw your Cubby Hole campsite on river right between 16 and 17 river miles downstream of the 41 bridge, and as I noted in my earlier correspondence there is a new house going up about 50 yards to the north. We did not see the grave of the lost canoer in this section. At 3:00 PM we pulled into a campsite on river right at about 18 river miles from the 41 bridge; 10 miles today so we're doing a little better. Two canoes passed our campsite just before dark. They indicated that the Suwannee Canoe Outpost just dropped them in a little upstream of us on river left and they would be camping somewhere just ahead. This was the first time we had seen any other canoeist/canoers since starting out, and the last time we saw any people at all was back at Stephen Foster. My GPS has this spot at N3023.244' & W08254.099' and about 17.4 miles downstream from the 41 bridge. We could still hear I-75 from this site (about 1.3 miles ATCF), but it was at an acceptable level especially if you are tired. There were two other manmade sounds noticeable at this site: a shooting range perhaps (target practice going on late into the evening) and an intermittent noise that sometimes sounded like an engine running far in the distance or perhaps the base end of some music. I could not ascertain its direction.
Here's more later - I believe to get away from the I-75 traffic noise entirely you would have to go as far as 20 river miles below the 41 bridge (about 2 miles from I-75, ATCF); quite a jaunt for one day's paddling. That would be 6hr: 40' paddling time without any breaks - get started early! Maybe a better idea would be to get a late start from the 41 bridge and camp at the Stephen Foster canoe launch site (about 2 miles from I-75, ATCF). This would cut off about 3 miles of the distance to river mile 20 below the bridge; however, you're still right next to County Road 136, but that can't be as bad as being within 2 miles of I-75? Even your Cubby Hole is only about one mile from I-75, ATCF.

Note: In your web page you said that the Cubby Hole was 2hr: 25' paddling time below the I-75 bridge - at 3 mph that makes it 7.25 miles below I-75 or between 16 and 17 river miles below the 41 bridge. In your book on page 37 you state about the Cubby Hole: "We estimated this site to be roughly halfway between the shoals and Hwy. 75." - this would put it east of I-75 rather than west as you describe on your web page. I think west is the proper choice.
                  Click on photo to enlarge, back - to return to normal     

Sunday, November 24, 2002, river gage at 51.49' - Again, ice on the canoe, toilet seat and the Coleman stove in the morning. We were on the river around noon. We saw the steps at the Crooked Creek area but did not see any colored flags. Shortly we were passed by two canoes. We only saw a total of 4 other canoes all weekend and that was fine with us. We paddled the 4 miles down to Suwannee Springs and decided to get out there as my paddling buddy had been feeling kind of poorly all weekend and this was the closest place to get out in spite of the steep climb up the wooden stairs with all of our equipment. I called the outfitter on my cell phone to come get us and before I could get all of our stuff to the parking lot Mike with ACA showed up and when I looked around he was carrying our 70 pound Mohawk up the stairs on his shoulders plus he had the rest of our gear in his right hand - what a guy!

Twenty-two miles total - overall it was a good trip, even with my partner getting sick. We saw deer, otter, turtles, and lots of birds, but no gators. Even with the water level below your recommended minimum of 51.6' we had no trouble and, in fact, those conditions made for an interesting rush at a couple of places where the river narrowed and increased in speed - what I like to call "Florida rapids." Again, we saw no orange tape along this part of the river.

Suggestions: In your web page, change the reference to Photo Album 2 to Photo Album 3 in the Cubby Hole paragraph; in the note, "12:40 we passed under Hwy 751 Bridge", change the road number to 249.

Enough for now.

I can't thank you enough for providing all of that information on the river. You certainly "take all of the worry about being close!" J

                                                                                                    Mike & Linda Wadel