May Day Trip On The Wacissa
Wacissa, FL--The King scheduled the annual Memorial Day trip as usual, but Tristan Shelfer and Katie Peterson scheduled their wedding for the same day and the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs is always scheduled that weekend. To make a long story short, it looked liked Charlie was about to throw a party and no one was coming. The party was canceled but fourteen Fellow Travelers, including eight rookies, did decide to canoe the Wacissa from the head spring to Goose Pasture on May 27, 2012.
Lucy Whelchel came with Diane and Charlie for her maiden voyage. Diane brought Ami, her Yorkie. Patrick Warren came from Hahira and brought his mother, Bobbie, and his son, Jack. It was the first Fellow Traveler for the Warrens. Margie Massey came and brought her daughter and son-in-lwa, Marty and Charity Lutes. Margie’s granddaughters, Anne Martin and Leila, also came. Sam Brown came as did John and Cindy Williams.
The group met about eight at the head spring and shuttled most of the vehicles to Goose Pasture. Upon the return of the drivers, the canoes were loaded with paddlers and snacks. The Warrens used the three-seater Penobscot 16, Marty and Charity used their kayaks and each carried a daughter. Lucy was a rookie so she teamed with veteran paddler Margie in the Escape. Sam soloed the Prism and John and Cindy paddled his Penobscot 16. Diane and Charlie used the Canadienne.
The Wacissa is always beautful. The water was clear and the paddlers could watch the fish swimming beneath the surface. The water level was lower than normal. There were a lot of birds including some limpkins, but no one saw a bald eagle or osprey. Some paddlers saw alligators and some did not. Diane saw none but says when you have seen one alligator you have seen them all. In Diane’s estimation alligators rank just above rattlenakes but almost any bird excites her.
Although it was a pretty day, it was also a hot one. The paddling was leisurely and the group stopped at some of the springs along the way. There were several other canoeists and kayakers on the river.
Everyone stopped for a lunch break at the dry land just above the remnants of the old dam. Ami jumped out of the boat and covered herself with mud, much to Diane’s disgust. It was a long, enjoyable stop. It was also the lunch break. Ami and Anne Martin had a disagreement and the dog nipped Anne Martin’s leg. There was a lot of talk. Patrick talked of his experiences as a Navy photographer. Lucy and Bobbie found they had a deep common interest in southern literature. It was quite a social mixer.
After lunch the trip resumed. The river character changes once the dam is negotiated and becomes a canopied stream through hardwood trees and cypresses. The Wacissa has swampy banks for almost the entire trip from the head spring to Goose Pasture.
Nothing noteworthy or exciting occurred as the paddlers went on to Goose Pasture. The last mile before reaching Goose Pasture is a wide river through wild rice and tall grasses and is often alive with birds. There were ducks, coots, and egrets along that stretch.
Once the group disembarked at Goose Pasture everyone took a much-needed stretch break, wiped the sweat, and then loaded the canoes onto Charlie’s trailer and onto Marty’s vehicle. The other vehicles were picked up at the head spring and everyone headed home.
It was a real treat to have so many newcomers. The Wacissa is the ideal river to introduce rookies to the Fellow Travelers. Perhaps the next time the heat will be a bit less intense.