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Chipola River Report
(Peacock Bridge/Look &Tremble)

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 11/27/2010 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 6 photos     Map & Directions: View

This was a fall paddle when the water level was low on the Chipola with the result of crystal clear water, many shoals, and the fun of going over Look and Temble, a class 1 rapid south of Willis Bridge

My Report:

A trip announcement was sent to the members of the Florida Panhandle Canoe and Kayak Connection, and many paddlers responded; but it rained Friday and a cold front came through, so it was a die-hard, paddling-loving group that showed up with the morning temperature of 38 degrees. The sun was shining and it didn't take long to unload the boats and gear and run the shuttle.

The half inch of rain that fell on Friday had not affected the clarity of the water. Usually the Chipola River takes on the characteristics of an alluvial stream with suspended soil and considerable cloudiness. After a prolonged drought, it becomes crystal clear, with most of the water being supplied by the documented 64 springs that feed the stream. When the water level is low, many of the springs along the bank that feed the river underwater become visible. There are also many shoals between Peacock Bridge and Willis Bridge, which makes for paddling fun.

One of the super things that I enjoyed was that Nate came over from Woodville. He is a Greenwave regular, and while I felt like I was acquainted with him through his postings, I had never met him or had the pleasure of paddling with him. He brought his lightweight 19.5 foot covered canoe for Pat to use. This is one, long, skinny boat, and the one he had used in several paddling races. He entertained us with first-hand accounts of the Texas Water Safari and the Ochlocknee River "Yellow-fly" Race. Being the experienced out-doorsman that he is, Nate actually had net to wear in the early evening when the Yellow Flies were so bad. He said he could hear them hitting his paddle like a bug zapper!

Pat was down from Tennessee visiting family in Panama City for Thanksgiving and never passes up a chance to paddle, and Holly and Knox came over from Tallahassee, and my friend Nancy who lives in Marianna.

There aren't many places to get out along this stretch of river. I stopped to take a picture of a small spring bubbling out from a rock, and there was quite a bit of exposed limestone karst, so we all took a break, carefully stepping over the rocky outcropping. A better place for a break is 6.5 miles downstream at Johnny Boy Landing. We stopped there also, and then headed for Willis Bridge. This bridge does not have a boat landing or launching spot, but there is a forest road accessed on the southwest side of the bridge that runs for about a mile along the river. It is now NWF Water Management property, and the road was in excellent condition. There is a circle at the end of the road which is just beyond the Look and Tremble rapid, for parking and to get turned around. During the summer tubers float from Johnny Boy Landing to Look and Tremble and get out at this spot.

I had scoped out the rapid and the access road prior earlier that morning - no fun leading a group of vehicles down a forest road and getting stuck. Everyone else took a look when we left the vehicles at the take-out.

Only 4 of us decided to run the rapid, because the boats Nate and Pat were using wouldn't stand up to hitting the rocks. Three of us successfully made the drop. One paddler flipped, so Pat was able to use her Swift Water Rescue training, and get across the river, and right the kayak and bring it back to the west bank. All of us were glad the paddler was wearing a PFD and could swim across the river to the bank.

It was one of the best paddles I have been on recently. The temperatures warmed up to the 60's and most of us paddled in our shirt sleeves with the PFD to keep our core warm.
We worked together getting our boats up the bank, and loaded and reluctantly said our good-byes.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 8.5
Fees/Costs $: free

Photos from Peacock Bridge/Look &Tremble:    (Click image to view full size)

Nancy in Cave No Comm
Nancy in Cave

Nancy has paddled into a river-side cave which isn't filled with water due to the low water levels.

Look and Tremble No Comm
Look and Tremble

Look and Tremble rapid from the top of the bank.

Frances, Nate, Pat No Comm
Frances, Nate, Pat

Greenwave Fans

Small spring No Comm
Small spring

This spring was gurgling out from under a rock.

Important Message No Comm
Important Message

This kiosk and anti-littering sign was sponsored by the Calhoun County Sheriff.

Johnny Boy Landing No Comm
Johnny Boy Landing

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsFlorida Caverns State Park is located in Marianna, a good camping area to use when doing day paddles on the Chipola River.

Post Date: 11/28/2010

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