Mono Lake, CA 2018

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Canoeing at Wekiwa Springs Florida

My first canoeing experience at Jonathan Dickinson State Park was a bit scary, but I got through it and in retrospect was willing to give it another try. At Dickinson I really did not actually see much of the river or the surrounding banks. I was too busy just keeping my balance and learning how to paddle. The group trip was probably a good idea because I felt that someone would rescue me if the canoe tipped over. We had a guide, but we had to travel a little faster than I wanted to in order to keep up.

The waters of the Loxahatchee River at Dickinson were dark and looked deep. The banks were mostly tight tangles of mangrove and didn't look like it would be possible to get ashore if I fell out of the canoe. (You have to remember that in the past I have not been comfortable in any kind of small boat, and would only swim in pools where I could see the bottom.) 

The waters in the run of the Wekiwa Springs are crystal clear, and don't look more than five or six feet deep. You can see almost all of the bottom. There are many places along the banks that if we tipped the canoe, we could probably just walk out of the water.

In view of this, I was up to giving canoeing another go!

I can't express how much better I felt this second time. We were on our own, and decided to go at a very slow pace so we could enjoy the scenery. Craig did a great job of steering, and didn't push me to go faster than I was ready for. In fact, our pace could have been  described as "controlled drifting" most of the time.

These trees looked like three sisters, each going her own way. The greenish color in the foreground is the somewhat sandy bottom.  

Along many of the banks there were large masses of water plants. 

Before we went out, I asked about alligators attacking people who had tipped over their canoes and fallen into the water, and was told not to worry. They did have one teenage boy bitten last year during the gator breeding season when he swam into the water plants where a bull gator was courting. 

It is not breeding season now. If you don't bother them, they won't bother you.

We did see one smallish gator in the water on the edge of some of the plants, but he was too quick to get a picture of.

He wanted to get away from us as much as we wanted to avoid him!

We saw numerous birds and turtles. At one point I spotted a buck deer, who still had his antlers, walking along the edge of the water.

Wanting this to be a "great experience", we turned back before my back started to hurt.  However, by the time we were almost back I started to get leg cramps, a stitch in my side, and my foot fell asleep.  None of which made me regret going. I just wish I had a younger body. I will go again!

Total trip time was an hour and a half.

The memory will last forever.

[From Craig]  Merikay has had an irrational fear of lakes and streams since I know her. It seems that when she was the youngest of five kids, one of her brothers would tell her stories about the monster-fish that lived at the bottom of the inland lakes that her family would visit for recreation. Of course a grown, college-educated woman doesn't actually believe that there are monster-fish down there any more, but without confronting bodies of water like we're doing now, it's hard to get over the residuals.


  1. Glad you had a good experience. We do the "controlled paddle" style of kayaking also.

  2. The only way we get over our fears is to face them. You've done remarkably well, Merikay! There is so much beauty to see out on the rivers and lakes. Keep at it!

  3. It can be very frustrating when our aging bodies object to what our minds want to do. Keep on paddling!

  4. Good for you, Merikay! Keep on Keepin on!

  5. Love the photo of the turtles!!! I agree with Judy, I would like to hike like I used to and my knees will not allow it.

  6. Great to see you on the water again! Curious, do you feel safer in a canoe or in a kayak when it comes to being tippy?

  7. Inspiring that you are enjoying things outside of your 'wheel house' and great photos too! Something tells me I will be seeing a Zip lining post sooner or later :)

  8. We love our canoe, we have added cushions and some padding for my knees, both which make it so much more enjoyable. I too was nervous the first time we paddled where alligators live, just have to choose the time of the year wisely.

  9. I'm with you on the giant fish in the depths - my imagination is a powerful thing! It is hard to overcome, but I try.

  10. It was nice to hear Craig's point of view. We are not as brave as you guys. If we know an alligator is in the water then there is no way we are going to get in a tippy canoe in the same water!


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