The Gull Reef Club

10/12/2018

Paddlethon, Starting the Journey

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:06 pm

As you may have guessed by now, we took a paddling adventure last week into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. For this journey, we entered on the east side near Folkston, GA. For the uninitiated, there are three public entrances to the the Refuge, one on the west (Stephen C. Foster State Park), and two on the east (Kingfisher Landing and Suwanee Canal Recreation Area). There are NO roads that go through the 350,000+ acres of the Refuge Wilderness Area. None. There are 120 miles of water trails, mostly for canoes and kayaks only, but some allow under 10 hp motors. We paddled 26.2 of those trails in our kayaks.

The first stop was Okefenokee Pastimes, which served as our base camp. It is a privately owned campground just outside the Refuge boundaries. This was our first time staying there under the new ownership. We were really impressed with the improvements that have been done. We stayed there our first night in order to be close to the Suwanee Canal entrance.

We arrived early enough in the day that we were able to sign up for a sunset cruise with the fine folks at Okefenokee Adventures, the official concessionaire of the Refuge. It was truly fortunate that we took this cruise. Our guide, Steve, was marvelous. Welcoming and well-informed. Not only did we learn a lot, it was the only chance we had to take pictures while moving on the water. Paddling time was spent paddling, not taking pictures. We got some great ones on the cruise.

We were up before the sunrise on Tuesday morning. We packed up camp at Pastimes and headed into the Refuge via the Suwanee Canal entrance. There we checked in with Okefenokee Adventures. We checked in that we were permitted for two overnight stays in the Refuge – the first night on the Round Top Platform and the second on Canal Run.

It was a beautiful day to start our journey, although a bit hot. We launched about an hour after sunrise, and began our way down the orange trail aiming toward the Round Top platform.

Stay tuned for the rest of the journey.

The Gull Reef Club