On Friday, Jan 16, 2009, I participated in the Florida Trails
Association Canoe/kayak paddle on the Hillsborough River. When
I left home at 0830 the outside temperature was 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
When I arrived at Hillsborough River State Park at 0915, it had
dropped to 43. There were high wind advisory's, but on a narrow
river, they don't apply. However, it makes it feel colder.
I put on a white tee shirt, a colored tee shirt. a blue paddling
shirt, a canvas vest, a yellow sweat shirt and a life jacket and
a bathing suit and rubber overalls, so I was not cold, except
my hands. The other paddlers, John (our host), Emil, Tom, Elaine
and Juanita (of soft over the fountain fame) were dressed similarly.
We were all rolly poly.
We put in at 1000 the stairs just north of the campground to the
Hillsborough River and paddled downstream with the current and
the wind (from the north, of course). We passed Dead River Park,
three miles southwest at 1130. Some of us stopped for a comfort
break and one of us turned over and got totally soaked. We paddled
on down to 17 runs a half a mile farther and turned around at
the first blockage, a tree across the river. Even though John
gave the wet paddler a dry shirt and the temperature had climbed
to a toasty 55 degrees, we decided to return to Hillsborough River
State Park for a late lunch. A wet person can stay warm while
paddling and can be very cold eating lunch. I speak from experience.
We returned against the current and the wind, so we got our exercise.
The cold invigorated us so we didn't mind the force. The warm
tropical sun kept us going. Strangely enough, there were several
gators sunning themselves along the bank. One we estimated was
about 10 feet long. Also we saw turtles on logs. Naturally, we
saw water birds and fish. We watched a fisherman catch a fish.
Told him we would be back for a sea food lunch. We decided to
take out at the beach at the commercial canoe launch so we didn't
have to climb the stairs with our kayaks. Our return time was
two PM. Our paddling distance was seven miles.
We loaded our boats and picked a picnic table in the sun and had
a nice lunch with interesting conversation. I didn't know Emil
was a Psychic. He told some eerie stories. We had a nice invigorating
paddle. One we will talk about for some time.
Our next paddle will be at the Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs.
We will explore the bayous there, followed by a lunch at a Greek
restaurant selected by John Bangos.