This morning was freakin cold at 38 degrees. And at 4:30am a truck pulled into our campsite. Early fishermen who don’t mind the cold? That was my hope until we heard the drunken “yeehaw,” but then they left, thank God, blaring their horn off in the distance.
When we next awoke, mist was steaming off the river and we forced ourselves out of our sleeping bags and began to pack. John was feeling better and was ready to go.
Leaving Campsite X, the Crooked River soon turned north while we turned south towards the Ocklockonee River, which would feed us out into Ocklockonee Bay, but only after squeezing through old bridge piling which spanned the entire length of the river.
Hmm…a barrier between the two river drainages which no boat bigger than a kayak could pass? You’d think some angry fisherman would’ve blown part of the barrier up. There’s gotta be an interesting story behind that.
We found a sand beach for our first official lunch break onshore in many a day. Look at the color of that water – practically black from the river tannins. I couldn’t see an alligator or a snake below the surface if I wanted to.
And we found a sign that, being from Colorado ski country, left us a bit baffled. Maybe it would make more sense to us if it was bikini weather. But dang it was still cold. But not cold enough for the white stuff. I spent the entire day in my paddling jacket to ward off the cold breeze.
We were bucking a current – the story of our trip – the entire day. But thankfully there was little wind. And before we knew it we were into the marshes (aka Osprey Land) where we must’ve seen a dozen osprey and their nests within a span of just a few miles. John hugged the shoreline, avoiding the worst of the current but also making himself easier alligator bait. Me? I kept a respectable distance from shore.
We didn’t see an alligator but we saw a lot of dolphins. Close. We’ve noticed they like the transition zones where one body of water dumps into another. They were jumping out of the water and John saw one toss a fish. Another two even escorted us out of the river. I tried to take a picture but chose not to risk my life and limb pulling it out of my lifejacket, hitting the button to activate, punching in my password, opening the camera app and then locating and timing the rise and fall of the closest dolphin, all while my kayak turns in circles since I stopped paddling and my unsecured paddle dips under my boot and threatens to tip me. No, dear reader, after several failed attempts on your behalf I chose instead to steady my boat, proceed to paddle and enjoy the spectacle myself.
And then we entered the Ocklockonee Bay. Big and expansive and the current still against us, eating up our energy with each paddle stroke.
We made 10.8 nautical miles though, to tonight’s camp at Holiday Campground, our first private, commercial campsite of the trip, at $44 bucks a pop.
Tired as all get out. Why is it that we are always beat when we pull up to camp? That my brain is a fog and my whole body is shaking?
We set up camp as usual (no rest for the weary), got hot showers which was a treat, threw clothes in the laundry and walked around the corner to an amazing meal of Shrimp Alfredo and Fish and Chips. This meal was a true winner! One of the best of our whole trip.
With a full belly, clean body and clean clothes, I will lay myself down in our tent between the big rigs and try once again not to freeze as the temps are due to plunge to 33 degrees.
I’m super happy with my sleeping bag liner keeping me warmer. I haven’t tested out the insect shield feature yet, because you know what’s cool about the cold? Yep, you guessed it! No bugs! We gotta love it while we can!
We are alive.
We are healthy.
We are adventurers.