Updated: May 15
The put-in point down from big shoals was down a steep moss-covered embankment, and there was hardly enough space by the water to stand on, let alone to load up the boat with gear. I was thankful to have John and Nathan there to help me. As a two-person job this was difficult, but alone I would somehow have had to disassemble the kayak to get all three pieces down without slipping and smashing on the rocks. That loose hinge would have been all the more troublesome now. I gave my two new friends a big thanks and a thumbs up before the current carried me along.
Nathan said that after crossing I-75 I should keep a lookout for river camps. “They are pleasant and well maintained and they are free. Best thing your taxes have ever paid for. They have showers, a fire pit, and a bug screened hut. Not that you would need that now, it’s been unusually mosquito free these days, even with the cold.”
Downstream of Big Shoals the character of the river changes. There are hardly any cypresses in the channel anymore, and the banks have long sections of porous limestone rock. In some instances, the river carved out overhangs in the rock where I could paddle underneath and hide from the rain, while others looked like they were submerged caves. I don’t know how far they went, as only the entrance was visible, and the dark water obscured any vision of the depth.
Crossing the I-75 overpass I saw a strange thing. Up on the pilings of the overpass there was a ledge some 15 feet high were on was an enormous piece of hanging driftwood. Perhaps the river level is indeed much lower than normal if the water can reach so high. Big Shoals would have been a raging torrent with this much water.
As I paddled downriver, I reached a place called the Suwannee Music Park. The river here had an enormous sand beach on the inside bend shaped like a cone spoil some 30 feet high. It was filled with sunbathers, and there was country music blaring from out above the bank. One of the girls by the water told me there was a festival going on, and that the place was packed. They would be playing bluegrass and country music all day and night. If I want a good night's sleep I would need to keep going.
Seven miles later I reached one of the river camps. It was dead quiet though I heard a few voices up above the bank and saw that there were two other kayaks that had been pulled up the river beach.
I stopped here to see who this night’s campmates would be.
Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation