Paddling the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River…and Almost Swimming with Manatees

November 22, 2015

My work took me south to the eastern shores of Florida, and as I do on all trips, I sought out a slice of nature.  The highlight of this trip was a kayak trip down the Loxahatchee River, one of Florida’s two Wild and Scenic rivers (I paddled the Wekiva River in February).  My home base for this part of my trip was a cabin at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which was also the launching point of my paddle upstream (though there was really no discernable current).

Conditions were ideal, in my book, as I started my paddle out in 70 degree weather and a steady rain.  OK, so a steady rain may not seem ideal, but when you are a bit of an introvert and you just finished three days of being with a group for 16 hours a day, the emptiness of a river in the rain is paradise.

Of my three hours, the rain was my companion for only about an hour.  After that time, I did see a few other people, but no more than 5.  I was happy to have smet the first group, as they opened my eyes to the dozen or so manatees swimming beneath us.  Beautiful creatures.  See my post from February for great manatee pictures.  The water here was not as clear as at Wekiva and Blue Springs, so you will need to look carefully at the picture below.

Loxahatchee River-6.jpg

My trip upstream ended just past the Trapper Nelson Interpretive Site, where a man had lived in his own paradise for many years.  I enjoyed my lunch at the pavilion, walked the grounds, and headed back down river to my launch site.

But not without a bit of excitement.  Remember those manatees that were so beautiful swimming beneath my kayak.  Well, one did not take kindly to my paddling over her (I’ll go with her as of course I did not inspect them that closely).  They seemed fine when they were in control of the swimming underneath, but when I paddled above, without seeing the manatee, I was promptly lifted 6 inches out of the water as the manatee flexed to swim away.  That was a bit of excitement, and at least I was not flipped to the bank to be alligator food!  Really, my biggest concern was what I had brought with me.  With no dry bag, I was hoping a Ziploc container would protect my things, but I don’t know if it would have floated.

That bit of adventure over, I cautiously moved on and finished my paddle back where it began.  A great day of seeing the “real” Florida.

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