Stage 10 of the Suwannee Quest – the YakPak’s attempt to lead the Sandhill Chapter of the Florida Trail Association in paddling all 206 miles of the Suwannee River in Florida – one piece at a time.
Today we paddled from Manatee Springs State Park to Fowlers Bluff. Nice ramps at both ends, altho wheelies are a help in the state park to get your kayak from the parking lot to the ramp. Right at the start we had a difficult decision to make – where to eat after the paddle – since there is a nice little river-side restaurant at Fowlers Bluff and good BBQ available at Manatee Springs. On our last trip we elected to eat at the Treasure Camp restaurant so this time we went back to Manatee Springs for the BBQ and were not disappointed. The 3 Meat Plate was as good as we remembered it and I took home 1/2 of it for dinner Sunday night. The water level by the White Springs gauge was 49.99 – low low.
Since it was close to Halloween some of us decorated our kayaks and dressed the part.
It was a bit windy on the river, enough to make paddling a little more strenuous than normal since in the Suwannee River valley it’s almost always a head wind. (Or at least it SEEMS like it’s always a head wind.) But offsetting the wind there were very few motor boats on the river today. I think everyone must have stayed home to watch the Florida-Georgia football game. So there were only a few power boats to avoid on this stretch and they gave us plenty of room.
One of the highlights of the trip were all the blooming Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens) bushes along the river teeming with various species of bees and butterflies. We all had a lot of fun trying to get close enough and stay still enough to get some good pictures.
Another neat thing we ran into along the banks was a Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest hanging from a tree. These guys of actually not hornets, but wasps and are pretty bad news, especially if you are allergic to wasp venom. If you disturb the nest they will swarm en mass, so slow and gentle is the rule around them. They are one good reason for avoiding any overhanging trees and branches on your river paddles.
After we took out at Fowlers Bluff we returned to Manatee Springs State Park for BBQ dinner. Just as we arrived the Goodyear blimp passed overhead on its way to Tallahassee for the Florida State-Clemson football game this evening. Here are a couple of pics from the park. A great place to spend a hot day.