I've been canoeing on the Wacissa River countless times-- a classic summer day trip means loading up the canoe, driving 20 minutes to the head spring, and canoeing for a quarter mile down to Big Blue spring to go swimming.
But it's winter-- almost Christmas, in fact-- and a dip in Big Blue wasn't really on my radar. I had my sights set higher. For years I've been hearing about the canoe trail further downstream on the Wacissa. Keep paddling for about 9 miles and you come upon a bankside campsite called Goose Pasture where you can spend the night. Follow the river further and there's a man-made connection between the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers called the Slave Canal. The Aucilla flows out to the Gulf. I have been DYING to see what's downstream.
Travis and I were up in Tallahassee for the weekend, but instead of planning a camping trip I just hung out and missed the sleepover window. So we'll just have to wait for another long weekend for a two night epic canoe trip to the Gulf. But we recruited my friend Lilly for an adventure that lasted a little longer than any of us expected-- turns out leaving a car at the bottom of the river for a shuttle and canoeing nine miles takes a reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaalllllllyyyyy long time, and you probably shouldn't have anything else planned for that day. A work Christmas party for example. Poor Lilly had a rush back into town in her Tevas to buy a white elephant gift, but I swear she said it was worth it.
It was worth it to see dynamic parts of the river I've never paddled. It starts out as a wide, bright flow, then splits into smaller passages till it's whittled down to narrow streams flanked by a canopy of trees. We spotted the familiar eel grass, catching the sunlight like flowing gems. We experienced the river in the winter, the cypress trees truly bald instead of greened out, the sky totally clear instead of being piled high with cumulus clouds. And even though we had to drive back in the dark, the river at sunset made the trip.