Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Florida Jungle SUP Ridiculousness

Where's the water?
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Florida is a labyrinth of little waterways; both natural creeks and man-made drainage canals. A few are established routes for kayaks and paddleboards. For example, there is Lee County's "Great Calusa Blueway," which winds through freshwater rivers, salty lagoons, and everything in between. Rhonda and I often paddle the "Imperial River" section of the blueway, which runs through our neighborhood. The Imperial River is wide and slow enough to be easily navigable yet narrow and "jungly" enough to be pleasurably scenic at the slow speed of a SUP.

With the summer wet season now in full swing, however, some of our lazy paddleways are looking not-so-lazy, and some un-navigable trickles are looking temptingly navigable. The nameless canal across the street that takes us to the Imperial River is usually a stagnant flow of brackish water that reverses at high tide. Now, though, it's a strong, entirely freshwater river that we can only travel one way. Last week Rhonda and I parked a car at the Imperial River boat launch and "shot the rapids" of the canal to make a quick journey downstream. It was so much fun that I started scheming ways to extend the route by putting in at a more upstream locale.

I had to rule out our neighborhood canal, because it goes through a scary culvert right above our usual put-in. The next possibility I saw on Google Earth was "Leitner Creek," which I would be able to access from some abandoned property on Matheson Avenue about a mile Northeast of our house. (X out the pop-up box in the Google Maps window to get a better view.)

View Larger Map

I bicycled around to the spots where I knew the creek passed under a roadway and verified that there was room to paddle under. Then I geared up with some water, a cell phone in a waterproof bag, and my helmet camera. Rhonda dropped me off at the launch on a Monday evening.

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Here's a video with some highlights of the next hour...

Jungle SUP 7-22-13 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Long story short- despite close encounters with hobos, spiders, leeches, and manatees, I made it all the way to the Imperial River. I'll probably never do it again, but I challenge any other would-be Huckleberry Finns to try to retrace my journey. ;)


Catherine said...

I enjoyed the journey and wondered if the Amazonian flute and drum music I kept hearing in my head was just my imagination.

Catherine Locatis said...

Just loved the adventure...who would be curious enough to make this trip? so glad you made it and shared it with us. this is from a friend of your parents,
a fellow paddler,,house bound for the summer, so Ireally love floating the messy canals with you and floating under the bridges. Great idea,,look forward to the next one.. many thanks
Catherine Lo from Edisto

Jeff said...

love the hobo comment!583tssourn