Last weekend I did a long training paddle down the Ochlocknee river here in north florida. Ochlocknee is an indian word that means "River of fallen trees". Ok-Ok I don't actually know what it means. The first day I took off down river and was told by a family swimming off there house on the river that I should "camp high" because the dam was open and the water would be rising up to 6 feet. Soon I passed a pair of fishermen who said that last weekend I would have been carrying the kayak.
Did about 21 miles the first day:
I followed the advice and found a high place to camp.
I set up my hammock even higher :) and tied my kayak as high as I could. I pulled the kayak as high up the bank as I could, until there was only the last 8 inches of the boat in the water. These were all good things as when the sun came up the water was three to four feet higher. Not a good night to sleep on a sand bank. The kayak was almost afloat by the time I cast off.
The river was incredibly changeable. It would go from wide and open to almost a creek flowing through a huge collection of snags and downed trees and then back to wide and open. A Klepper A2 not being a whitewater boat I got hung up a few times on logs and snags. A few times there was no way down the river through a downed tree and I found myself using momentum and the plentiful current to bust though some bushes on the edge of the river or the green leaves in the top of a newly fallen tree. Not my favorite kind of paddling. Many times I wished I had a Kruger and could just bash through with no fear of tearing my boat up.
One other challenge of this river is navigation. There where multiple places where there were options on which way to go. Once I paddled more than a quarter mile to ask a fisherman if he was in the river or if it was one of the side channels that are called "lakes". Turned out I had left the river and was in a lake. In another spot I found myself having left the channel and accidentally taken a short cut a Fish and Game officer had told me about but not been willing to attempt directions for. More than once I sat at an intersection trying to puzzle out which way to go, as twisty as it was south was not always the right answer. At one point I was worried that I was going up river (I was not :p). Guess this was very good training :)
The second day I planned to paddle twenty to twenty five miles. The middle of the afternoon came and I had already covered more than twenty miles. I called Christy and she told me there were thunderstorms forcast for that night. I pushed on and as the end of the afternoon neared I thought I only had ten miles or so before a takeout point so I pushed on. Total for the day was forty-two miles. By far my longest paddle. About half of that was in current (ducking and dodging fallen trees) and the other half fairly open without much current and with a headwind.
I must have done enough of a workout cause I am still sore :) Total count 16:45 hours in the boat and 64 miles traveled.
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