Suwannee Quest II-01 – November 18, 2017

Last year I lead a fun paddle series that we named the Suwannee Quest.  It was an attempt to paddle the entire Suwannee River within the state of Florida, one weekend a month.  The first paddle was  January 16, 2016 and the last one was April 29-30, 2016.  On the Saturday night before our final paddle we all ate dinner together at a local restaurant in the town of Suwannee and I asked the group what river they wanted to do next?  The response was “Let’s do the Suwannee all over again!”  Thus, the Suwannee Quest II was born.

Our first paddle of the Suwannee Quest II was on Saturday, November 18, 2017 from Roline Landing boat ramp to Cone Bridge Rd boat ramp.  A distance of 16 paddling miles.  We were late getting started because the street sign for the turn into Roline Landing was missing and it took extra time for everyone to meet up in the right place.  On the way out I noticed that the sign post was still there, but the sign at the top was gone.  Probably knocked off by one of the logging trucks since there was evidence of a major timber harvest all along Woodpecker Pkway.

Map of the trip

Map of the trip

With the water level so low there was a wonderful beach at the bottom of the Roline Landing boat ramp where we were able to unload and prep our boats.  After shuttling most of the cars down to Cone Bridge Rd ramp, we finally hit the water at 10:15.

Getting started at Roline Landing boat ramp

Getting started at Roline Landing boat ramp

One of the things I love about this upper section of the Suwannee are the lovely, gnarled old Tupelo trees.  They only line the banks for about 30 miles in Florida, reaching their southern-most limit and disappearing totally by the time you reach White Springs.

Giant Tupelo trees line the upper Suwannee this far north

Giant Tupelo trees line the upper Suwannee this far north

The cypress trees were all aflame with their yellows and oranges, reminding us that in spite of the balmy weather it is really autumn in north Florida.

A little fall color from the cypress trees

A little fall color from the cypress trees

Since we got such a late start due to the missing sign, our first break was for lunch at Turner Bridge boat ramp.  It’s a very steep ramp, but there is a little park at the top with a large grassy area and two picnic tables, making it a lovely place for a lunch stop.

Turner Bridge boat ramp

Turner Bridge boat ramp

After Turner Bridge it was a short way to the shoals above and below CR 6.  But there was still several inches of water over the rocks, so we didn’t even scrape bottom, much less have to get out to line our boats through.  And just enough ripples to provide a bit of a “Wheee!” factor to the paddle.

Shoals north of CR 6

Shoals north of CR 6

Shoals south of CR 6

Shoals south of CR 6

Below CR 6 the sandy banks are interspersed with limestone outcroppings, some displaying small miniature seepage waterfalls.  If you canoe/kayak camp along the Suwannee you should collect your water from these small waterfalls since the river itself is full of “floaties” that will clog your water filter within minutes.

A weathered limestone bank

A weathered limestone bank

Limestone bluffs

Exposed limestone banks

Seepage waterfall

Seepage waterfall

Seepage waterfall

Seepage waterfall

Limestone bluffs

The many sandy banks provide good resting places.  Also good swimming in warmer months.

Sandy banks

Deep sandy banks …

... make for great rest and swim breaks

… make for great rest and swim breaks

After many more small twists and turns of the river we reached our take-out at Cone Bridge Rd boat ramp with just enough time to load all our boats and get on the road before dark on this short late autumn day.

The Suwannee this far north is narrow and winding

The Suwannee this far north is narrow …

... with lots of twists and turns.

… with lots of twists and turns.

Cone Bridge Rd boat ramp

Cone Bridge Rd boat ramp