Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ochlockonee River, US 90 to Tower Rd

I was thrilled this morning to find the air a little chilly, as the weather finally has a little feel of fall in it in North Florida (high of 82 today, 92 yesterday; a considerable improvement). To celebrate the cooler weather, I paddled the Ochlockonee solo again today. I put in at my turn-around point last week, under US 90 (Tennessee St.) and paddled N, with the intention of going all the way to the next put in, but I was stopped by felled trees about a mile from the end, and thus stopped short. The launch is fine, public boat ramp under the overpass. As soon as the sound of the traffic on 90 faded the sound of traffic on I-10 became audible upstream. There were men working on the bridge, breaking large chunks of concrete off the railing which plopped loudly in the water beneath them. Despite this intrusion (the sound of traffic), which faded quickly then, this section of the Ochlockonee is actually quite beautiful. After I-10 I never saw another soul until I got back there; there's no development, and it feels very remote. There are lots of willow trees (I think) and cypress, pine, and palmetto (note to self: get a FL flora book). I used my little saw on the leatherman to clear some small paths through the tops of trees that had fallen over the river, but when I reached the point seen below, I called it and turned around. There were several alligators, ranging from small to large, and belted kingfishers, green heron, little blue heron, vulture, ducks, anhinga, and woodpeckers. Wrestling with the trees showered me with little spiders, so I found a sandy beach to de-spider on and eat lunch. There are several sandbars on this section that are good for that sort of thing, which is a nice change from the previous section (US 90 to Lake Talquin). Estimating my turn-around on Google Earth, I think I made it about 4 miles upriver before I turned around, so 8 total, in about 3.5 hours. It was really a nice paddle, despite the the road noise at the start, and it'll be worth putting in at Tower Rd. and paddling down to see if I can work a clear path through with shears and a real saw.

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