Along the Econlockhatchie River.
For anyone interested in making this trip, begin with my posts in November, 2010. You will also see reviews there of the two most interesting books on the St. Johns River. The original plan was to include the entire river, plus the Wekiva and Econlockhatchie Rivers, and Lakes Jesup and Crescent. We finally compromised by keeping the two rivers, considered by most accounts I’ve read as the most beautiful and pristine parts of the St. Johns River experience, but we scratched the two lakes and the remainder of the river north of Palatka. All of us have experience on the upper river already, so there was little point duplicating that part of the trip. Plus, that segment is highly commercialized and developed, making camping more difficult and diminishing the natural surroundings we were seeking. In the end, it is still a 21-day trip and 322 miles.
Assuming the world doesn’t end with the winter solstice on 21 December, we plan to make the trip a couple weeks later, which will still be some of the shortest days of the year. The objective was to make the trip leisurely enough to enjoy the sights, but still reach the next camp with an hour or so of daylight left for dinner and setting up camp for the night. For the most part, the day’s run is dictated by the location of camping sites, so while most days are around 18 miles, the longest is 21 miles, and a single day became almost a lay-day with a run of only 6 miles, but with a stop at Parramore‘s Fish Camp. The camp is highly regarded, and also serves as a nice staging spot for the push across Lake George, which can become quite hairy if the weather turns sour. As always, we know the plan will evolve again while on the water as conditions dictate.
For navigation, kingfishermaps.com has a nice set of St. Johns River maps that are waterproof and tear resistant. Those are the ones pictured on yesterday’s post. I got the Central and South river sets, Maps 314 and 331 respectively, but while there is a North section map by kingfisher, I will use the ChartKit Region 7, by MapTech, for the river from Sanford north. At 17 X 22 inches, the ChartKit is cumbersome in a canoe, but I have it, it’s paid for, and so will serve. I’ve used ChartKits for many years. While they are excellent products, and fit nicely on the nav table on most boats, DeLorme Atlases and specialized maps for paddling trails or river maps by the Corps of Engineers are the best for paddle boats. There is another option, if they fit your paddling plans, and that is Richardson Chartbooks, which are done in a smaller 12 X 18-inch spiral-bound format.