Kayaking the South Fork

We’ve enjoyed getting to know the  North Fork of the St. Lucie River, which is just near our home. As you know from previous posts, wild, lush jungle surrounds you as you paddle through the wilderness.

We’ve heard stories that the South Fork, near Stuart, is even more impressive.

When the opportunity to explore the South Fork with a Sierra Club group came up last weekend, we jumped at the chance and signed up.

We’re glad we did!

Our group put in at South River Outfitters, a full-service kayak and cycling outfitter just at the river’s edge.

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The first mile or so, we passed by riverside homes, but soon we found ourselves in the thick of the jungle.

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You meet some really nice people on these trips–Here’s Lori and her son Robbie.  Lori, like most people in Florida, moved here from the north.  She’s lived here for 20 years now, works as a human rights lawyer and told me, “I figured I might as well live where I want to vacation.”  I totally get it.

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Rob was hoping to get some ideas for other Florida adventures.  Charles, our group leader, told him about a great kayak trip in the mangroves around Jupiter Island.  Some other great South Florida kayak trips can be found here.

Soon we found ourselves deep in the wilderness.

Jungle closed in all around us.

Furry trees were covered with air ferns.  Have you seen the old Star Trek episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles?”  I think I know where the writer got the idea for the tribbles.

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A botanist named Tom came along on the paddle.  He pointed out a fern called ‘Resurrection Fern‘ that dries up during periods of drought and looks dead until it gets wet when it magically comes back from the dead.  Resurrection Fern likes to live on branches that lie over the water–I call these branches ‘Noggin’ Knockers.’

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We paddled and chatted as we enjoyed the beauty of the river.

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I think this might be a Partridge Pea.  If not, I hope someone will correct me.

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This is a Salt Marsh Mallow, just before it opens up.

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We came upon these water lilies as we rounded a curve, soon after seeing this guy watching us from his high perch on the side of the river.

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Good morning to you, too!

I might just point out that it’s April, the middle of alligator mating season, when they are at their most aggressive.  There were fewer gators this trip than our North Fork trip last week, a big plus!

I remember that we are kayaking in their territory.

Generally, if you leave them alone, they leave you alone.  

We stopped for a picnic lunch at a campground in Halpatiokee Regional Park.  It’s located just next to the river and tent camping is allowed (permit required).  There’s a hiking path and a sweet off-road cycling trail nearby.

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Too soon, it was time to start the return trip home.

The alligator was still in his spot, and we enjoyed seeing other wildlife.

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I think this is a River Cooter.  This turtle can live to be over 40 years old.

Did you know there are over 700 varieties of air plants?  This is a great trip if you want to see some of them!

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If you’re interested in kayaking the South Fork yourself, here is an excellent map and summary.

Many thanks to the Sierra Club, and Charles, for organizing the trip!

If you’re interested in finding a Sierra Club outing, check out this link.

Get this great dry bag for your next trip:

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