What were you doing a few days after Christmas? Some of us in Florida were paddling the Juniper Springs run.
My friend Bob, myself, and several other of our friends attending the 33rd Annual FTA New Years Gathering at Doe Lake were wearing shorts and bathing suits, enjoying the warm weather and beautiful blue skies.
We weren’t alone. With a group of nineteen folks from a Deland church, and another twenty-some-odd group from Tennessee, plus dozens of others out on the water as well, it felt kind of crowded on the narrow waterway. Asking around as we passed other paddlers, we met people from Alabama, South Florida, and Brazil.
The water level was a little low, requiring me to get out of my loaner kayak and pull it along through several shallows near the beginning of the run. Several large logs below the water line added some excitement, as many of us got stuck halfway over a couple of them. There were several tight spots along the way requiring a bit more paddling skill, and the rapids – which sometimes can’t even be seen – threw a wave of water right into my lap.
As a couple of novice paddlers didn’t quite make it through a tight spot so smoothly, their boats began to jam tighter and tighter together by the quick moving current. The rest of our conga line of kayaks and canoes began to back up, with around a dozen of us backpaddling or holding on to branches to wait for them to break free. I heard someone say “Hey, it’s just like I-4!”
By the time we safely reached the pick up point, we all had big smiles. Only one of us ended up on an unplanned swim, those sneaky hidden logs to blame.