I’ve done Big Boiling Creek north of Navarre several times and enjoyed it immensely, so when the opportunity arose to try out Little Boiling Creek with the Florida Canoe & Kayak Connection I jumped at it because when trying out a new location, I prefer to do it with someone who’s been before, and as an added benefit, it makes shuttling vehicles so much easier.
So I arrived right on time at the put-in location on RR213. This is a dirt road on the Eglin Reservation that, although well maintained, I thought was going to shake my twelve-year old car apart on the washboard terrain. Luckily we both made it through and I quickly got unloaded. This is a group of paddlers that doesn’t waste any time getting into the water.
The seven of us were on the water by 10 a.m. and I immediately discovered that, although quite pretty, Little Boiling is nothing like Big Boiling. The first mile traverses what can only be described as swamp, only it’s clear water with a white sand bottom making it the cleanest swamp I’ve ever been in.
I spent the first ten minutes of the paddle stomping my feet against the bottom of the kayak to kill all the swamp spiders that kept falling in. I’ll play with snakes, lizards, frogs and alligators but don’t get a spider anywhere near me. Speaking of snakes, one was very ill-placed. As we were moving through the swift current and narrow confines of the swamp I reached out my hand to push off of a small bush (this section of creek is too narrow for paddles) and coiled around the branches was a snake. I quickly snatched my hand back while simultaneously attempting to quickly identify the species AND shift my weight in the kayak enough to alter my trajectory. Win! Brown water snake (non-venomous) and I just missed colliding with him. I yelled back a warning to my fellow paddlers and pushed onward.
Onward might be a bit of an exaggeration. I quickly tired of climbing in and out of my kayak to get across the shallow bottom so I wound up walking my kayak the rest of the mile to the lunch stop. Again I learned a valuable lesson as I attempted to wade through some aquatic grasses. I plunged through the thick mass all the way to my waist and became lodged. It took a couple of tries, and using my kayak as my flotation device, I pulled myself out and swam the remaining ten feet to the bank.
After a short rest I climbed back into my kayak and journeyed onward with my companions. From this point the creek widens a bit and becomes much easier to navigate. The only other obstacle that we encountered was a low dam crossing that was constructed by the rangers to cross the river. Here, Doug graciously balanced on the log and helped everyone get their kayaks over and across the log. Thanks Doug!
Again, the creek only improved from that point on. We stopped for another break just above the put-in for Big Boiling Creek. Water levels were low enough here that we just limboed under the bridge to continue our trip. My companions assured me that Little Boiling is easier with slightly higher water levels, but between the spiders and narrow confines I don’t know if I’ll attempt it a second time. The close encounter with the snake gives me pause as well. I could very easily have not seen it and it could have been venomous instead of harmless. Food for thought for future trips.
I’ll do a separate review for Big Boiling Creek and Yellow River. Stay tuned.