Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fossil Expedition to the Peace River

Fossil Expedition to the Peace River 2/19/06

My friend Bruce sponsored a guided tour for us with a group from Adventure Kayaking to the Peace River. There are many benefits to going with a group over ‘going it alone’; the first being transportation. We parked in Vero, and transferred our kayaks to a trailer for our drive across the state (East coast to West coast). There is always an interesting group of folks on these trips; I have paddled with engineers, educators, carpenters, nature enthusiasts, network administrators; pastors, young and old; a very diverse group of personalities who share a love of the outdoors and a respect for nature. I always learn a lot comparing my gear with that of the others; on this trip there was one sit-on-top kayak, the rest were sit-inside types. Most had rudders, dry well storage, bungee cords, drain ports, cup holders and side storage. The lengths ranged from 13 to 17 feet long. I had the least sophisticated vessel, an Old Town “Otter”, no rudder, no bungee, no dry well, just me, my paddles and a dry bag at my feet. But I was well able to keep up with the group, my humble Otter did just fine.

Another big advantage of going with a group if being able to launch upstream and take a one-way trip downstream. Our guide, Steve, arranged to have another outfitter meet him and follow him to the terminus, leaving his van and trailer there and driving him back to paddle with us. When you are dealing with a river with current, this is a big plus! There is just something special with shared experience that makes the group experience so worthwhile. Four times I passed alligators on the banks that I failed to spot until someone else pointed them out. Some of the people were birders, and were able to identify a particular woodpecker. About an hour into the paddle we disembarked for lunch, which Steve supplied. He is famous for good, nutritious meals (and especially for his brownies). We had tuna fish sandwiches on whole grain bread, pasta salad, a broccoli and carrot blend and some banana nut bread. Back on the river, there were four minor ‘rapids’ which were good training for maintaining your stability against contrary currents. Nobody ditched or needed rescue on this trip.

The big draw of this trip sieving for fossils on gravely sandbars. I made a little wooden frame for some one-quarter-inch hardware cloth, others just bought wire kitchen sieves from Target. For about two hours everyone was digging in the mud for sharks teeth and other petrified remains. It was hard to get people to stop because they were so engaged; it was addicting. I found dozens of good teeth and bone fragments; it left me with a desire to return again real soon. Looking at my tattered fingernails, maybe I’ll bring a trowel or shovel next time.

Attached I have some pictures of my haul, as well as a link to Adventure Kayak’s Web site.
Great fun, good people, a super experience!

James M. Dinsmore

Peace River-Flowing more than 90 miles through forest and cattle ranches, the Peace River is one of Florida's best rivers to paddle. Single day trips, as well as multi-day camping trips, offer the opportunity to sieve for fossils and sharks teeth. Located south of the city of Bartow.

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