We love creeks! The more rain-shed the better; all the more risky.
The head count was five, five brave souls ready to tackle the Alaqua Creek (more like Alaqua gushing river) which was spewing over its banks thanks to all the rain we had the previous 12 hours. To our knowledge we were the first wanderers to trek down this creek armed with SUPs…even better! As for how we came about the idea, basically, our DAC buddy Jon Willis stuck his finger on a map and said, “I think we’ll start here”. For those who do not know Jon, he is certifiably crazy when it comes to adventures.
The journey began 4 linear miles north of were the Alaqua meets highway 20 near Freeport, FL. The adjective “linear” turned out to be very misleading. The Alaqua squeezes the land for as much real estate as it allowed for the 4 linear miles, twisting like a vine the actual distance traveled would end at near 5.8 miles. The weather was foreboding of cold temperatures and rain. The paddle would begin near the 9:30 mark with air temps in the 40′s and water temps somewhere in the 50′s.
Us five paddlers set off with Zero knowledge of what we would encounter down the flooded creek. The water flow was brisk with the occasional eddies that pulled and twisted the board’s direction. Ducking, dodging, and diving where the verbs of the day. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a tree! The near 3ft rise in water level put us SUPers in the trees…literally. Balances were tested with the many fin bumps by odd shaped logs submerged in the murky water. Then…we hit a road block, or water block. Swamp logging-meet-paddleboarding. The creek was blocked by several downed trees and brush. We climbed the trees, lifted the boards from one side to the other (all while balancing on shaking 8″ diameter pine trees) then pulled a Houdini act to get under, over and around the very sharp brush.
Continuing the paddle the only obstacles that would remain would be very sharp 180 turns and accidental polar bear swims…all in a days adventure. The last .5 mile of creek opened up and the flow basically slowed to a halt. We picked up the pace to finish strong…and very chilly! The paddle lasted near 2 hours and was very big fun (in the words of Jon).
For those who have never paddled a creek or river on a SUP…two words, TRY IT! You will be hooked. The raised alertness increases the whole paddling experience. Your balance, vision, handling, and stamina will all be tested to the max, especially when the water is FREEZING!