Sunday, February 24, 2013

St. Johns River - Day 7

The river channel split at the Rt. 50 bridge, several miles west of the
Kennedy Space Center, showing the east and west routes
Today involved about an 18 miles paddle, but we had accomplished only 9.7 miles when we arrived at the Rt. 50 bridge. At the bridge, we faced two problems. The first involved a navigational disagreement---the second in as many hours. We were about to enter what could conceivably be the most difficult area to transit, Puzzle Lake. As we sat facing the two bridges under Rt. 50, and the splitting of the river channel into two different routes north, there was a difference of opinion as to which should be followed. My research indicated we should take the west route, Gus’ chart app on his GPS indicated the route was the east channel. One might get through using either route. In fact, I had GPS positions for every channel junction going either way. The question was over which was the most prudent and safer route. We happened to meet Ken Stafford again, the official from St. Johns River Water Management, at the Midway Airboat Ride concession. I explained our impasse and asked his opinion. He said the west channel was clearly the better choice, that the east channel had fallen out of use, had silted in, and weed had encroached on the channel making it narrower and increasing the likelihood of us being run down by an airboat. I didn’t care to see a friendship of several years ruined by such conflict that could become strained further as we faced even more such decisions going up through Puzzle Lake. I felt it was time to stop.

Actually, navigational disagreements aside, stopping was not a decision I needed to make, for it was being made for me. The second issue was an increasing problem with blood circulation in my legs. The inability to get out and move about, resulting in too much time in the canoe, was the culprit. The resulting problem began to appear by our fourth night. The night’s low was in the mid-50’s, and I was in a sleeping bag rated for 10-deg. below zero, and still I couldn’t keep my feet warm. My feet got so cold, the discomfort was keeping me awake. That was solved by digging in the pack for a pair of wool socks. By the time I got out at the Rt. 50 bridge, however, I had lost all feeling in both legs. My left leg just felt like it was asleep with the usual pins and needles, but my right leg below the knee was totally dead with no feeling or sensation at all. Fearing a blood clot, I felt it was time to seek medical attention, and called Jean for her to pick us up. Gus was unable to reach Lisa, who had his truck, so we loaded up both Ibi and his kayak, and took him to his truck before heading north. The good news was it wasn’t yet a clot. The bad news was that the damage would be slow to heal, and over a month later, while a follow up doctor’s visit indicates the healing is well underway, I’m still not back to normal. The prognosis is for some normalcy by early March.


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