With the recent heat indexes in Florida we’ve been keeping the adventures fairly close to home so that we can start early and be off of the water before the temperatures really start to broil. Yesterday, we decided to take a paddle up Rocky Creek on Rocky Bayou in Niceville, Fl. Rocky Creek is a great choice for more than just convenience, it also has history, nature and is technically challenging enough to give paddlers a good workout with its swift current and tight turns.
Despite our best planning, not all of our team members were able to rendezvous at Rocky Bayou State Park on time so we were a bit later than we would’ve liked with launching our vessels. These consisted of two standup paddleboards and two sit-on-top kayaks. After a quick check to make sure that we had our required range passes*, we took to the water and began the half-mile paddle across the bayou to the mouth of the creek. On the way there we managed to spot a couple of dolphins on the morning hunt for food. Rocky Bayou is a designated aquatic preserve and is a haven for aquatic life and a quick meal for a dolphin.
The tides were in our favor as we approached the mouth of the creek and we were able to glide right in. During low tide you often have to drag your kayak across the sandbar in order to gain access to the creek. Supposedly there is also a fairly large alligator that likes to hang out near the mouth of the creek, but we’ve never seen it. Still, in Florida you can never be too careful so keep an eye out for it.
As usual, the current gave us a bit of a workout as we paddled upstream. Our goal was a picnic spot about 2 miles up the creek that comes complete with a picnic bench built around two Cypress trees situated in the middle of the creek. It’s a great place to hang out after a tiresome upstream battle. Along the way we took a few moments to examine pieces of wreckage from an old airplane crash, presumably civilian, that still litter the creek. It’s a bit of a contrast to the display of colorful blooming aquatic plants that line the creek.
Perseverance rewarded us and we arrived at our lunch stop. We took time to eat and cool off before deciding to head back. Fortunately for the return trip it’s mainly steering on the quick trip back. Normally we’d also be treated to some wildlife sightings, but on this day the only wildlife we saw were a couple of osprey and dolphins at the beginning of our trip. The other wildlife were probably lying low to beat the heat and I can’t really blame them.
On our way out of the creek we encountered a bit of a traffic jam of boats pulled into the mouth of the creek at a picnic spot near the bayou. We threaded our way through and managed to paddle back to the take out and load up our gear before a determined rain shower moved in to try and cool things down. All-in-all it was a good trip and worth doing again.