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Econfina Creek Report
(Scotts Road to Hwy 388)


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Report By:  jalex    Date: 2/5/2011 
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Tough but rewarding 2 day solo paddle, the gauge at Scotts Rd bridge was 1.5ft

My Report:

I arrived at Scotts Rd bridge at about 10 am and was on the river shortly after. The meter read 1.5 ft, my best trips on this river have been closer to the 3 foot mark. Launching is a little tricky as it requires carrying your canoe a short ways down the florida trail.

The first few turns were frustrating as I got hung up on a few logs and sandbars, but nothing requiring getting out of the boat. About a mile into the trip the limestone banks got high and steep. The creek was just wide enough for the canoe and a close paddle stroke. There were some limestone 'chutes' that almost seemed like a ride from a water park, this is the section that makes the tough trip worth it. This section can be very hard on a fiberglass canoe, I hit many limestone ledges harder than I wanted to.

About mile 4 the banks were less dramatic, but still had some nice small water falls. This is where the log jams got bad. I was exiting the boat at every turn. Some you had to drag the canoe over, some you had to try and go under. It was exhausting and I would be surprised if I made a mile an hour over the next few hours.

I entered another limestone shelf area and had a good paddle for the next hour. Truly amazing. Banks straight up the side of the boat, little water falls pouring over the bow as I passed them. A few little shoals that provided a fun challenge, but not threatening. The river was moving pretty quick which left little reaction time. I got pushed outside a turn and got shoved under a rock ledge on the bank, it was a little scary as for a second it didn't seem like I could overcome the pressure to get out. I broke a paddle trying to push out, I fortunately had a spare. As soon as I stopped fighting it, the current decided to spin me in a 360 and I was out. Whew.

The rest of the day was just shallow water paddling, with a few obstructions. I would say maybe 5 logs every mile. Which was an improvement to the upper sections earlier in the day. I Had seen no civilization except for a small cable bridge over the river for the florida trail. I saw no access roads, boat ramps or cabins of any kind. I knew I had not made it far, maybe 12 miles, which is not much for all day, but I had a lunch break, a few side explorations along the banks, not mention countless portages over logs and limestone. I began looking for a camp site around 4 and didn't really find one till closer to six, not really covering much more distance. I settled on a tiny sandbank with really only room for one tent. It was not great, but my options are pretty limited. The banks are really high for lugging camping gear up and even then it is heavily wooded and muddy. I cooked my steak fajitas went to bed in my sleeping bag on top of my ground cloth. I was not planning on rain and there were no bugs. I was a little worried about gators. This sandbank looked like great gator bedding and I was only inches off the water. I rested on the fact that I had only seen little ones on this river, and it was winter.

I woke in the morning at sun up and decided not to cook breakfast. For some reason I was optimistic that I had din't have much farther to go and that I remembered there were less obstructions the farther down I went. I was wrong. The morning started out with the first mile having a bunch of logs. I made very bad time all morning. There were a few nice sections where the river widened and the sun came through. Most of the trip was tree covered. Despite the log jams the rivers pace was good and when I had open sections I mad good time. I took a tight bend to fast and flipped. Got all my stuff back except a flip flop. Didn't slow me down too much but I didn't have anything dry and it was cold in the shade.

Before lunchtime I came to walshingham park. I couldn't remember what mile marker that was, but it was nice to see a landmark. Up to this point I had seen nothing. There is a water gauge on this bridge as well, but the water wasn't high enough to reach it.

There were some locals swimming. They asked me where I was going and when I said 388 they said they didn't think I would make it before dark. Not what I wanted to hear but I had done this trip on a similar time frame.

After the park the paddle got easier, not easy but easier. I was making good distance. There is a spring run a few miles down from the park that takes you to the blue spring group. I checked it out for a second and then got back on the river. It is a nice place to swim, but not in the winter.

I passed the Econfina Canoe Livery, which meant only about 7 more miles, I was happy, the lower section isn't really difficult and has some beautiful springs.

Just as I thought the worst was over I noticed there was more water in my canoe than there should be. When I went to dump it I noticed a crack along my fiber glass keel. It was leaking slowly, but steadily. I must have done it on one of the limestone ledges.

I skipped stopping at the next two springs considering my boat damage. I got out at the highway 20 bridge hoping to hitch hike but after an hour of no luck I decided to keep going to 388. It was an uneventful paddle and I only had to stop and dump the boat twice. I got out at 388 and was quickly picked up by a chicken farmer who could only take me to Youngstown. I got to a gas station in Youngstown and asked a nice girl who worked there if she knew anybody who could give me a ride. She called her boyfriend and for $20 I was back at my car. Whew. Drove back to get the canoe and I was headed home. Very tough trip, but has some beautiful sections. Most people choose to do Walshingham park and lower. Not a bad plan, but do it in the summer with snorkel gear because the swimming is the best part of the lower section.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Difficult
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 24?
Fees/Costs $: n/a


Post Date: 7/16/2011

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