Tuesday, August 25, 2009

St. Marks River, US 98 to Springs

OK, I can't seem to find the words to write this trip report with any poetry, so I'll just stick to facts. Paddled solo yesterday on the upper section of the St. Marks River, launching under and returning to the bridge on US 98. On the water around ten. 6.5 miles upriver/up-current through remote forest to some houses at the N end, where the otherwise narrow waterway opens and expands to several hundred yards wide. At this point the river goes underground and reemerges a little further N. There were loads of birds in this open marshy area, as well as bulls foraging and feeding on the water grass in the knee high water. Took a short break to eat a peach and some nabs, splash some water on my face, then float the current back to the launch. Almost 5 hours on the water, about 13 miles covered. Pretty trip, but kind of unremarkable aside from the completely unexpected siting of four huge bulls with 2' horns that I had to paddle within 30' of. I only saw one alligator, and it was small. Good birds in the open area, but little on the trip up.

After the trip I stopped at The Wilderness Way to inquire about a guide book to help trip planning. When I asked the proprietress, Georgia, how tidal the St. Marks River is, she replied, "very." I had launched on a mid falling tide, and thus fought the worst of the current as the force of the normal flow of the river coincided with the pull of all that water trying to get to the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles further downriver. My return was all with current, but it had slowed substantially as the incoming pushed against the normal outward flow, and was thus not the torrent I had expected to carry me home. Still, my return took half the time as my ascent. Next time I'll start the trip with the last hour or so of the incoming tide and return on the falling. The book was out of stock, but expected in later this week, so hopefully I'll have one soon. It's a good paddle shop and I'll be happy to get information and other paddling needs there.

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