Aimee and I paddled the upper section of the St. Marks River this morning. The put-in/take-out is just beyond the Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park. The spot we used was immediately past the park, but there's a better one just a little further up. The trip is supposed to be 2.5 miles upriver to Horn Springs and back, for a total of 5 miles, but we weren't able to get to the springs due to rather large trees that have fallen across the river. We portaged around the first one (somewhere around 2 miles up), and quickly encountered another. We were looking for a short easy paddle today (thus the choice of this one), so we decided to call it quits and float back. Someone suggested that the hunting club that owns the adjacent land cut a few trees to limit access by paddlers. It's going to take a good bit of work to get all the way through. Next time I'll take a handsaw so I can at least clear some OK portages and deal with brushy blockages, but the trees aren't coming out of there without a chainsaw and a lot of hard work, so I'll let them be. Despite not making it to the springs, we still had a nice time. The river isn't very wide, ranging 15'-35' across, running through remote cypress/pine forest with dense undergrowth (a lot of palmetto). We didn't see any wildlife besides a couple of birds, but there were a lot of animal droppings where we portaged and it was very undeveloped, so the potential is there. I want to see a bear. It's a nice spot for a short paddle, but be prepared for the portages/haulovers. I'm going to wait for cooler weather to thin the vegetation and then see if I can get all the way up. There were lots of spiders strung up in the overhanging branches. Cheers.
3 weeks ago