|Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble at a Glance:
Dates: December 6-9, 2013
Distrance: 30 miles
Registration fee: $200/person, Meals: $100/person
Registration deadline: November 22
More information: www.paddleflorida.org
Paddle Florida announces a Seminole County autumn treat, its fourth annual Wekiva /St. Johns River Ramble. December 6-9, participants will paddle approximately 30 miles on two of Florida’s historically rich rivers, camp riverside nightly, and enjoy educational speakers, musical entertainment, campfires, and camaraderie.
The trip includes two nights of cabin camping at Wekiwa Springs State Park and one night of tent camping at Wilson’s Landing, a Seminole County facility on the Wekiva River. Paddlers will spend the first day enjoying the pristine Rock Springs Run, which feeds into the spring-fed upper Wekiva River. The final day’s journey will introduce paddlers to a portion of St. Johns River, culminating with a celebratory barbeque at Blue Spring State Park.
The name ‘Wekiwa’ was used by Creek Indians to describe the bubbling water of springs. ‘Wekiva’ was associated with the flowing water of the river. The area is teeming with wildlife. Previous paddlers have spotted limpkins and herons, baby raccoons in overhead branches, white-tailed deer sipping from the shoreline, and even a Florida black bear sauntering down a hiking trail.
“On a crystalline fall day, temperatures rising into the 70s, our Paddle Florida group of 50 was soon floating down a spring-fed, sand-bottomed stream,” describes Doug Alderson, author and paddler on last year’s River Ramble. “Sabal palms arched over us. Purple asters lined the shores and brilliant red leaves of Florida maple reminded us of winter’s approach and the fact that other parts of the country were already digging out of snowstorms. The closest thing to snow we encountered were fluffy white seeds that floated from tall sea myrtle (baccharis) shrubs along the shore.”
So that all paddlers can enjoy their trip, Paddle Florida staff takes care of everything but the actual paddling. Each trip is scouted in advance to ensure waterway conditions and shoreline camping spots maximize comfort and showcase nature’s best view. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminates the need to weigh boats down with food and camping equipment. Lead and sweep boats guide paddlers on each day’s journey. With this level of support, paddlers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy an extended adventure in natural Florida.
Each evening, paddlers gather for open-air dining, musical entertainment, and educational presentations that explore the region’s water ecology and wildlife. In addition to featuring experts versed in the region’s water issues, this fall’s River Ramble will showcase musician Bing Futch on the evening of December 7. Futch is an award-winning singer, songwriter, music composer and performer of Appalachian mountain dulcimer, Native American flute, and ukulele.
This is the second of five annual Paddle Florida trips conducted across the state from the Panhandle to the Keys. These three-to-seven-day trips expose paddlers to Florida’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage while promoting Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism. Awarded non-profit status in 2011, Paddle Florida fosters water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection. True to this mission, Paddle Florida coordinates voluntary cleanups on each waterway they visit. Previous years’ volunteers have collected and removed over 1,600 pounds of trash from rivers across the state.
Trip fees cover a paddling, camping, learning, and musical adventure.
The Wekiva/St. Johns trip fee is $200. The recommended meal plan is an additional $100 per person and provides three hearty meals per day. Beginning- and end-of-trip shuttles are available at $25 per paddler and $25 per boat. Fees for all trips include camping, a t-shirt, a boat decal, maps, evening entertainment, water descriptions, full vehicle support for all gear, and all meals (if meal plan is purchased).
Don’t have a canoe or kayak you can bring? No problem. Paddle Florida has partnered with Adventures in Florida to provide Wekiva/St. Johns River paddlers with all their boating needs.
The registration deadline is November 22. For more details on the Wekiva/St. Johns trip itinerary and registration, visit: http://paddleflorida.org/stjohns/ramble.htm .
Beyond the Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble, Paddle Florida’s 2013-2014 schedule includes:
January 15-22, 2014: Florida Keys Challenge
Enjoy a true winter’s paradise over the MLK holiday weekend, paddling beside sea turtles and railroad visionary Henry Flagler’s ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ in the azure waters of the Florida Keys. The journey is 70 miles, from Long Key to Key West. Registration deadline: January 2.
February 16-21, 2014: Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee
Beginning at Lake Panasofkee, paddlers will thread their way through one lock, hardwood swamps, and clear spring-fed streams on a 60-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Registration deadline: February 3.
March 15-21, 2014: Dam to the Bay, on the Panhandle’s Ochlockonee River
From wild Tupelo honey to fresh Gulf oysters, experience the Panhandle’s Ochlockonee River which winds through state and national forest lands on 76 miles of Florida’s most remote wilderness river trail.
Registration deadline: March 1.
April 4-6, 2014: Suwannee River Paddling Festival
Paddle Florida, the Florida Park Service, regional businesses, and organizations are busy planning the Second Annual Suwannee River Paddling Festival. Our 2014 festival will include paddling adventures on two scenic rivers, a Water Expo, and a benefit concert with proceeds supporting local springs protection efforts.