- MOONLIGHT PADDLE (Santa Fe River, Hwy 27 to Rum Island)
This will be a 1.5 – 2 hour paddle under the stars, down the Santa Fe River. After meeting Adventure Outpost to get everyone signed in and situated with a boat (canoe or kayak), we’ll drive down to our launch site at the Hwy 27 boat ramp. We’ll then paddle downstream for 1.5 hours to Rum Island County Park.
The main attraction here is Rum Island Spring. It’s not very big, but it still makes for a fine swim under the moon and stars.
Unlike our day trips, where scenery and animal watching are the main focus, moonlight paddles are more about relaxing, checking out the stars and enjoying good company. But, don’t rule out animal observation altogether.
Focusing your attention on the sky, you might glimpse a bat or a swift working hard to free the world of mosquitoes and other air born munchables.
Occasionally, a pair of barred owls will call out to each other, sometimes from a quarter mile away. With any luck, you’ll hear their conversation degenerate from a civil exchange of hoots and hooty-hoo’s to a raucous bout of cackling that sounds (I’ll say it again) like a Chihuahua with a duck stuck in it’s throat.
During evening hours there is as much, if not more, wildlife moving around than in the day. With the help of your flashlight, you might see a family of raccoons, rooting armadillos or an occasional deer feeding at the riverside. Fishing spiders perch at the water’ll s edge, dangling a leg in the water waiting to detect an approaching fish on which to jump. Listen and you’ll hear owls, frogs, crickets or the eerie call of a limpkin.
We often see a beaver or two on these moonlight trips. Northern visitors, who are often giddy at the thought of visiting Orlando’s famous, big-eared, lederhosen-clad mouse, aren’t so impressed with our beavers. Apparently, they are still holding their own in northern regions and are considered a nuisance for their tree-gnawing ways. But here in Florida, where beavers were wiped out by fur trappers in the 1800′s, we celebrate their return. They’re always quick to announce their presence with a loud tail-slap on the water surface as they dive out of sight. While this stunt is intended to startle potential predators, it’s pretty effective on paddlers as well.
When we reach the spring, you’re encouraged to put on some snorkeling gear and check out the amazing spring environment at night. Loggerhead turtles, crayfish, grass shrimp and other species come out at night. If you think you’ll be swimming, please bring a mask, snorkel, fins and an underwater light (if you have one. Exploring the underwater spring habitat at night is an interesting and rare opportunity. Anyone who has an underwater light should bring it. Even if you don’t have your own gear, bring a swim suit and we’ll share.
Please note – This is not a “guided” excursion (too dark to see the wildlife), but we will have someone on the river bringing up the rear, just to make sure everyone’s coming along okay.
Note #2 – We don’t guarantee there will be moonlight! While this is called a “moonlight paddle” and we schedule it to coincide (nearly) with the full moon, there are often clouds obscuring the moon. In fairness to other participants (and us, your humble outfitters), please don’t sign up for this one if you’re likely to cancel because of imperfect conditions. Even with reduced visibility, you can see better than you might think and an evening paddle is still a great way to experience the river. Don’t worry, we won’t go out in genuine ‘bad weather’ such as rain or freezing temps.
Easy, but I don’t recommend night paddling for your first paddling experience.