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Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Juniper Creek Paddle and Spa
Date: Saturday, August 7, 2004
Time: 9:30 a.m. at the put - in, ready to shuttle
Place: Munson, Florida just north of Milton
Contact: Gary Worob, 850-259-9337

Directions: From Daphne, take I-10 east to the first exit past Pensacola/EscambiaBay (after the bridge over the bay). This is Rt. 181/Avalon Blvd (first Milton exit) go north a few miles to U.S. Highway 90, go east/right a couple of miles to town and Rt. 87 north in Milton (stay in left lane) go left / north about a mile or so until Rt. 191 north (there is a gas station/subway at this corner) go right at 191/87 and proceed about 15 miles until you see a canoe sign at small bridge. This is the put-in. Drive in dirt road on right, and go a few hundred yards. Gary will try to leave his white van out on road and may be standing there to direct.

Comments: Gary Worob writes us:
It is important that you unload your boat and stuff immediately and prepare for shuttle.

Bring swimming clothes, lunch and lots of fluids. Cell phones generally don't work at the put-in, but mine is 850-259-9337. I will be camping at the put-in the night before.

This is one of the laziest and most beautiful creeks in the area that I know of. The water is crystal clear and has white sandy bottom with lots of white sandy beaches along the way. The trip is ten miles and very easy, with lots of stops for swimming and places to gather "spa clay" along the banks to smear yourself and bake those city blues away and then jump in thewater to be "renewed." While the trip is not long, I have never done it in less than 4-1/2 hours since there is so much good swimming to do and beaches to stop and snack at. So shared lunch is a good idea. This is one you won't forget if you love paddling.

Juniper Creek is not one of the tubing creeks. We may be the only boats on the water that day. Very rarely have I seen any other boats at the same time.

Dinner afterwards at local restaurant.

Some of us will camp in the area and may do a "screaming" bike ride on a designated trail for bikes only at Bear Lake in Munson. It is 6 miles of beautiful trail and lots of fun. There are great hiking only trails here also and lots to see if you don't want to bike. This is part of the extensive Blackwater Forest area above Milton, Florida, and only about an hour and 15 minutes from Daphne.

Note from Bruce: the State of Florida posts a simple map of the river area online at:

Heron Bay
Date: August 15, 2004
Time: TBD
Contact: Juli Day,
Place: Heron Bay, Mississippi
Comments: Sunday's Mobile Register had a front page article addressing the proposed oil drilling in this nature preserve on the Alabama side of the state line. Juli is leading a trip to enjoy this place before it is changed by the drilling rigs.


Tom Mayer writes us:
After hearing of Brent's unusual experience with a gator at the meeting, there seemed to be a lot of interest and concern on just what the risks of harm from gator encounters are. I told the group to watch out for the following article. I wrote it several years ago so the statistics are a bit stale. Nevertheless, it gives a bit more objective perspective and may help sooth some jangled nerves.

Summer’s here and it’s hot! To cool off, many of us are drawn to the water’s edge. Swimming, fishing, skiing, and just hanging out can be a reason to be around one of our area’s many aquatic settings. For quite few of the legions of sub-tour, super-par hackers, even golf can be a reason to get their feet wet. Most will never even consider that they have entered the realm of an ancient dragon, a truly primal and dangerous predator.

However, just let the word alligator pop up in a conversation and most would be quick to offer what they "know", or have heard, or seen, or feel, yet few would be able to contribute more than rumor, myth and rampant imagination. So lets take a look at the risk to our health and well being posed by this formidable beast. Lets see if the beast really lives up to the reputation we are so quick to give it. Lets see if the risk lies with the beast or ourselves.

Believe it or not, it was a couple of scientists from Utah State University who have taken the closest look at alligator attacks on humans in the United States. In 1997, Michael Conover and Tami Dubow published an article in the journal Herpetological Review which examined, in detail, the recorded history of gators gobbling humans in the U.S. The results will probably surprise you.

Since 1948, there have been a total of 236 recorded attacks of a human by an alligator, 218 in Florida. Of that total, 234 happened since 1972! Only 8 attacks were fatal, 7 were in Florida. Can this information be right? After all, by all accounts, the gator population has exploded since 1970. At the same time, concurrent explosions in waterfront residential development, water recreation, and the human population of the gators’ home territory must certainly have resulted in a veritable "all you can eat" buffet of tasty people nuggets.

It’s pretty well certain that, if you’ve gotten close to, or in fresh water in the South, you’ve given a gator a chance to chomp you. Now, how many times has this happened for the last 30 years? Probably millions -- no, make that hundreds of millions -- more likely a billion or so. Only 236 attacks? A measly 8 fatalities out of over a thousand million chances to chomp? What kind of fearsome beast is that?

Of course, if you are the one getting chomped, the odds of it happening and the fearsomeness of the monster take on a whole new meaning. But lets look at our side of the attack. Conover and Dubow listed a brief description of the human’s activity prior to the attack. here are just a few of them: "feeding alligator," "wading, kicked alligator," " forcing alligator from shore," "moving alligator from utility room," "picked up alligator in yard," "walked up to alligator on road," and "jumped on alligator in water." Now, I ask you, should the gator get the blame for the attack when the human’s activity is described as feeding, kicking, moving, picking up, walking up to, and jumping on the gator? My favorite tidbits (yes, actual tidbits) from this article are the 24 golfers attacked trying to retrieve golf balls.

All jokes aside, it’s obvious that we put ourselves at risk when it comes to getting chomped by gators. The alligator is no doubt a formidable predator, capable of inflicting great harm, even death. But they are shy, fleeing at the approach of humans. They will only lose this shyness with deliberate encouragement from humans. In the vast majority of "attacks," the human has gone out of his or her way to aggravate the situation.

So leave the poor ferocious dragon beasts alone and they’ll likely leave you alone. Your health and well being will be the better for it!


Editor's note:
For what it's worth, in the years I (Julie) have been paddling with this club, I have observed that all new paddlers are afraid of alligators, and no experienced paddlers are afraid of alligators. We respect them, yes, but we aren't any more "afraid" of them than we are of wasps, snakes, meteors, or any other rare hazard to be avoided.

The more time you spend around gators, the more you respect, admire, and enjoy them. I have seen hundreds of gators while paddling and have never had a problem with one. I have accidentally tapped a small alligator with my paddle and startled it. It went away -- end of story. I have never paddled over a gator, like Brint did, but it has happened to a lot of us, and it certainly sounds like a thrill, but then they go away -- end of story.

I can generally tell if a gator has been fed by (stupid) humans, because it is more likely to approach me. I paddle away from the gator -- end of story.

Never poke at alligators with your paddle, or otherwise harass alligators.

Never, never, never feed alligators.

Steer clear of alligators, and they will steer clear of you.


Thanks to Cathy Barnette, Alabama Coastal Foundation executive director, for her presentation at our meeting last night. Alabama Coastal Foundation and local volunteers make possible the Alabama Coastwatch to monitor water quality at public swiming areas. The results show up in the Friday weather page of the Mobile Register. With other volunteers they do habitat restoration along the shores, with cypress tree planting and other work such as the Mon Luis Island Restoration in a five-acre marsh. Their Living Reef project has the goal of restoring oyster reefs with oyster shells from local restaurants and harvesters. Through an Eagle Scout project they establish nesting platforms for osprey and eagles in the Fowl River area. They educate and recognize outstanding performance in our youth. They hold Amnesty Day to provide communities a safe way to dispose of household hazardous waste with local collections set up in various communities in lower Alabama. Well done!