Local
businesses said the sun was obliterated by the caravan of canoes and
kayaks that traversed the roads of Alachua County, Florida on
February 14 & 15. Not true of course, but there were a lot of us
and we did make an impact. We crowded the campgrounds, motels and
restaurants, but NOT the rivers. Once we got our flotilla afloat, all
was peace and harmony.

We
had 33 boats on the Santa Fe on Saturday and 35 on the Ichetucknee on
Sunday, a total of 59 paddlers. Heavy rains throughout the southeast
had resulted in flooding on the Suwannee, and the Santa Fe was high
but still “recreationally suitable”. Again, I was
disappointed that the springs were discolored by the high water, but
nobody else seemed to care. We saw lots of birds and turtles and
enjoyed “paddle-in” picnic tables at our lunch stop. I
extended the distance from 7 miles to 10 because the current was so
zippy, but we still finished by midafternoon.

Fortunately,
the flooding and high water did not affect the Ichetucknee and it was
as beautiful as advertised I heard lots of “Oh’s” and
“Ah’s” as
folks who had never seen it before, got their
first look. This is only a four mile trip, so we dispensed with a
lead canoe and just let everybody set their own pace.

A
good thing too! We had lots of things to see. A close-up look at a
red shouldered hawk, an abundance of Kodak moments with herons, other
wading birds, and turtles, as long as you wanted to commune with a
busy beaver (but what was he doing?), and The Manatees. How Glorious!
They rolled and lolled, and played and stuck their funny noses up. We
were entranced. If hunger pangs hadn’t set in, some of our folks
would still be there!

As
usual, our GCA group was top notch. It always blows me away that this
many folks can be so cooperative and considerate. Many thanks to my
co-leader, Sheila Small, to the shuttle drivers (you know who you
are), to Tom Rish and Butch Horn, and to the other 55 who made this
trip such a pleasure; Dan Roper, Ronnie Floyd, Dick Sturtevant, Chris
Lahowitch, Linda Klein, Brookie Gallagher, Lindsay Meeks, Mike
Kaplan, Annie Osborne, John Hudgens, Greg Mabry, Elizabeth
Goldsworthy, George Reeves, John Williams, Calvin Zippler, Carolyn
Barton, the Gatlings, Orts, Privitts, Moyers, Martins, Orvis’,
Colquitts, Hardees, Burkhalters, Convis’, MacIntyres, Reynolds’,
Gearharts, Woods, Hudgens, and Hufnages.

by
Liz Carter
From The Eddy Line, April 1998