“It’s a perfect day to be on the water” I commented to my friends as we kayaked. Blue sky, light breeze, and low humidity made for a picture perfect day to explore the Lost River.
The Lost River is located in Stuart, Florida just about ¼ mile east of the intersection of I-95 and Kanner Highway (76). Exit the interstate, go East and you’ll drive right over it.
Today, my friends and I put in at a little park just the other side of the river. This park has a boat ramp and a dock so it’s easy to load/unload kayaks and canoes.
We left from the boat dock and headed toward the west. At first glance, the river appears to be brown or even black in color. In the shallow portions, you can see the river is actually a tea color; which comes from tannins, a natural color caused by decaying plant material.
The first 20 minutes or so of leisure paddling takes us through the neighborhood and the view is mainly houses on the river. The homes are nice, but old style with an emphasis on enjoying the river rather than seeing who has the biggest home.
Once past that section, the river turns into the natural oasis. The banks are thick with lush trees including oak, palm and other varieties of green vegetation. The bank is so covered with foliage in most places that disembarking would require hacking a path. So for our breaks, we ‘d find an overhanging tree and hang out in the shade.
Like most adventures, there are multiple paths and the river is no exception. Staying left through a couple of forks takes us further down the river. One of the forks we went right and paddled around a lush, tree covered island that had a landing area. It appeared big enough to pitch a tent or just have lunch. We all agreed that’d be a fun place to pitch camp with some friends.
We continued down the river for about half an hour and then turned around. The river continued on, but the afternoon was fading fast.
As we paddled toward the launching area, we spotted a large alligator sunning itself on the bank. My kayak is nine feet and this gator wasn’t much shorter from snout to tail. However , it was high up and far enough away to paddle up and get a few pictures.
My friends thought it was asleep, but as I kayaked around I saw his eyes open. As they drifted closer for a picture, the large gator ran down the bank and dove into the water right in front of my kayak! Can you say back paddle? I can and I did!!
The gator swam down the river for a bit, then went under and that’s the last we saw of him. Unless someone has been illegally feeding gators, they generally will run away first. However, when dealing with anything that can and will eat you, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
We made it back safe and dry and agreed that next time we’ll leave earlier so we have more time for exploration. This is one of those cool places that is just a few miles from home. Next time you’re out roaming, check out some of those “forgotten” places that are just down the street. You might just have your own Lost River begging for exploration.
Here’s a short video of the excursion: http://youtu.be/QSP-DNUekoA