For Immediate Release
Paddle Florida, Inc.
Bill Richards, Executive Director
Phone: (352) 377-8342
Gainesville, Florida – October 15, 2012 –
Paddle Florida announces a Seminole County autumn treat, its third annual Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble. From November 30 through December 3, participants will paddle approximately 30 miles on two of Florida’s historically rich rivers, camp riverside nightly, and enjoy educational speakers, musical entertainment, campfire, and camaraderie.
The trip includes two nights of cabin camping at Wekiwa Springs State Park and one night of tent camping at Wilson's Landing, a Seminole County facility on the Wekiva River. Paddlers will spend the first day enjoying the pristine Rock Springs run, which feeds into the spring-fed upper Wekiva River on day two. The final day’s journey will encompass the St. Johns River, culminating with a celebratory barbecue at Blue Spring State Park.
Paddlers will trace the footsteps of early Native Americans, believed to be the first to live in this area, beginning around 8500 B.C. and continuing until they were forced out in the 1800s. They left a number of mounds that are still visible today. Other traces of history remain in the area, such as old logging roads and railroad grades left by the logging companies that mined the area’s timber in the 1930s. The name "Wekiwa" was used by Creek Indians to describe the bubbling water of springs. "Wekiva" was associated with the flowing water of the river.
“We slowly drifted into the leafy canopy filled with anticipation of what lurked around each bend,” recalls Fred Rambo, who went on last season’s River Ramble. “Alligators were seen perched upon fallen palm trunks at the bank of the river, wading birds prowled for fish in the branch strewn shallows all the while we drifted along with the current like ghosts in time.”
Paddle Florida staff takes care of everything but the actual paddling on their trips, which are scouted in advance to ensure waterway conditions and shoreline camping spots, maximize comfort and showcase nature's best view. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminate the need to weigh boats down with food and camping equipment. Lead and sweep boats guide paddlers on each day's journey. With this level of support, so paddlers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy an extended adventure in natural Florida.
Each evening, paddlers gather for open-air dining, entertainment from Florida artists or musicians, and educational presentations that explore the region’s water ecology and wildlife.
In addition to featuring experts versed in the region’s water issues, this fall’s River Ramble will showcase musician Katherine Archer on the evening of December 1. "I have an ongoing love affair with wild Florida," Archer says. A manatee fanatic long before she ever met one, Archer wrote her first mandolin tune, "Manatee Waltz," after her first encounters with the graceful water muse in Titusville. She is an all-around, truly engaging singer, songwriter and guitar/mandolin performer whose music honors our connection with each other and our environment.
This is the second of five annual Paddle Florida trips conducted across the state from the Panhandle to the Keys in each of Florida’s water management districts. Paddle Florida leads three- to six-day trips across the state to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism in general, and paddling in particular.
Awarded non-profit status in 2011, the group fosters water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection. True to this mission, Paddle Florida coordinates voluntary cleanups on each waterway they visit. Previous years' volunteers have collected and removed over 1,000 pounds of trash from rivers across the state.
Trip fees cover a paddling, camping, learning and musical adventure. The Wekiva/St. Johns trip fee is $200. The recommended meal plan is an additional $100 per person and provides three hearty meals per day. Beginning- and end-of-trip shuttles are available at $25 per paddler plus $25 per boat. Fees for all trips include camping, a T-shirt, a boat decal, maps, evening entertainment, water descriptions, full vehicle support for all gear and all meals (if meal plan is purchased).
Don’t have a canoe or kayak you can bring? No problem. Paddle Florida has partnered with Adventures in Florida to provide Wekiva/St. Johns River paddlers with all their boating needs.
The registration deadline is November 16. For more details on the Wekiva/St. Johns trip itinerary and registration, visit paddleflorida.org/stjohns/ramble.htm.
Beyond the Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble, Paddle Florida’s remaining 2012-2013 schedule features these trips:
January 18-21, 2013: Florida Keys Challenge.
Enjoy a true winter's paradise over the MLK holiday weekend, paddling beside sea turtles and railroad visionary Henry Flagler's "Eighth Wonder of the World" in the azure waters of the Florida Keys. The journey is 35 miles, from Long Key to Bahia Honda State Park. Registration deadline: January 4.
February 13-18: Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee.
Beginning at Lake Panasofkee, paddlers will thread their way through hardwood swamps and clear, spring-fed streams on a 60-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Registration deadline: January 30.
March 16-22, 2013: Dam to the Bay, on the Panhandle’s Ochlockonee River.
From wild tupelo honey to fresh Gulf oysters, experience the Panhandle's Ochlockonee River which winds through state and national forest lands on 76 miles of Florida's most remote wilderness river trail.
Registration deadline: March 2.
For trip details and registration information, visit http://paddleflorida.org/ . "Like" Paddle Florida’s Facebook page to follow trip updates: http://www.facebook.com/paddleflorida
Scenes from previous Wekiva/St. Johns River Rambles: