Paddling the Apalachicola River- RiverTrek 2013

Kayaking the Apalachicola River and hiking- usually bushwhacking- the basin around it.

In September of 2012, the winter oyster bars of Apalachicola Bay opened to reveal a severe lack of oysters. Years of severe drought, coupled with Army Corps of Engineers  drought operations that reserved water for the state of Georgia, created record low flows and precipitated the crash of Florida’s largest oyster fishery.  RiverTrek 2012 took place during this historic period in the river.  A year after completing that journey, we returned to find the river fuller and faster.

RiverTrek is a fundraiser for the Apalachicola Riverkeeper and an awareness campaign for issues related to the river and bay.  We joined a group of paddlers as they made their way down 105 miles of river.

Rally held prior to the Senate Field Hearing in Apalachicola on August 13thRiverTrek 2013 Preview: A Year in the Apalachicola River & Bay
We reflect on the year between RiverTreks 2012 and 2013.  Florida’s Senate delegation came to Apalachicola to hear from seafood workers, scientists, the Army Corps and the Apalachicola Riverkeeper.  As oystermen and women found their livelihoods threatened, Dr. David Kimbro looked into the relationship between low water flows, oyster predators, and the failure of the oyster fishery.

Alum Bluff overlook, Garden of Eden TrailRiverTrek 2013, Part 1: Garden of Eden, Apalachicola River
Before the kayak trip is set to begin, we hike the Garden of Eden Trail to arrive at Alum Bluff, the Apalachicola’s highest bluff and the best view of the river.  Once on the water, we find it higher and faster than in 2012.  It was so high, in fact, that we weren’t sure whether our normal campsite wasn’t covered by it.

Kayaking Sutton LakeRiverTrek 2013, Part 2: The Apalachicola’s Bluffs & Tupelo Swamps
RiverTrekkers arrive at Florida’s largest river bluff to see it has a new facial scar.  And with this year’s higher water, we kayak deeper into the Apalachicola basin’s “quintessential” tupelo swamp- Sutton Lake.