Monday, August 6, 2007

The Peaceful Peace River in Florida

This winter I visited my brother in Minnesota to go winter camping and ice fishing. I thought I would host him here in Florida for some summer camping and kayaking. Well, we had just about the best trip. We traveled down the Peace River.
What a gorgeous river.
Our trip began really early on Thursday morning. The iPOD woke me up with some Rufus Wainwright at 4AM. We had to be at the river between 7:30 and 7:45 AM. and it was a 1 hour and 45 minute drive to get there. My father picked my brother and I up at 5:00. When we were packing the Jeep, we realized that we had too much gear. So, we got to the river early and condensed as much as we could, and decided what we would be leaving with the car.

When we had finished that, we were loaded into an old school bus (giving me some fond, and not so fond, memories from my childhood). The bus will take us to Zolfo Springs, FL. This would be the start of a 43 mile, 3 day, 2 night camping trip down the river to Arcadia.

We had so much gear, that we decided to take a canoe and a tandem kayak. This made a lot of space available. Of course, as soon and the bus dropped us off in Zolfo Springs, it started raining.

While waiting for the rain to pass, we noticed that the park service had a pen of Ostriches. Since this is not normal for Florida, I had to take a picture.

Finally, the rain let up and we got under way. This is my brother and father in their canoe.

This was my view for the next few days.

This river had lots of cypress and palm trees. It was easy to feel like you were the only person on the river, ever. In fact, we did not come across another person the entire first day. That is saying something for Florida.

A cypress tree and it's "knees" for stability and "breathing" when the water is high.

Life will bloom anywhere.

The "anvil cloud" in the distance lets me know that there will be another thunderstorm pretty soon. The whole first day, we were paddling through thunderstorms. It kept it pretty cool, though. So I am not complaining.

There were certain things that caused the feeling of being the first person down this river to be shattered.

This was our first campsite. The bugs were not so bad, yet. Surprisingly, this first day was heat free, and mostly bug free. However, there were gazillions of fire ants. We had cooked hamburgers the first night. Apparently I had dropped some of our meal on the ground there. The next morning, when I started cooking breakfast, an entire new nest of ants had grown over night. Of course, having had no coffee yet, I stepped right in it. They tore me up.

the aforementioned breakfast. Kind of worth the pain.

The next day started off on a bright note. No clouds. This meant that it was going to be HOT. And boy was it. There were times I was begging for some rain and clouds.

This is another shot of my brother and father

Being somewhat harder to paddle a kayak designed for 2 people that is loaded down with gear, I kept falling behind Mark and dad. I was also trying to find some good shots. Mark got tired of waiting for me and decided to just tow me along for a while. That was fine with me!

Some more knees:

Some shots of our second night's campsite.

Mark brought his water filtering kit. So, we di not have to pack any water. We could just filter the river water. Here he is, in action, as it were.

A later afternoon visitor.

A picture of me:

Our take out point - the canoe outpost. This was a wonderful trip. We are alreayd planning another one. This time, though, we may be going down the Altamaha River in GA. This is a river that plays a lot in my family history, and it is one that all of us, my brother, father, and myself played in as kids.

It should be fun!


wcs said...

That looks and sounds like a great trip, ants and all. I haven't gone camping in while, although I did spend 2 nights in Yosemite Valley back in 2005, but that wasn't really camping.

One of these days we'll pack up the dog and tent and head to some mountains here in France.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm going on a canoe trip on the Peace river in a couple of days. You reminded me that on my trip, I'm going to bring something to kill the ants with, and a chair of some kind as well.

Thanks again,
John in Jacksonville