Jupiter Jungle Paddling

I have been a paddler for 11 years. I always wanted to surf, but growing up on the gulf coast of Florida we were rarely blessed with waves. When SUP boards hit Florida around 2007, I went to the one surf shop that had them and just threw $1200 my AmEx card. I remember my dad yelling at me for being frivolous, but 11 years later, the debt has been long paid off and the same board, “Big Brody,” is still with me.

When I lived in Crystal Beach, a gulf coast golf cart community, I paddled every day. People would laugh and honk at me as I cruised to the shore in my golf cart with my board strapped to the top.

I can no longer paddle every day, but I do take time out to stroke out. Being on the water has great psychological benefits in addition to a great workout. Lately I’ve been challenging myself, learning how to paddle surf or going on more challenging routes.

I recently paddled River Bend Park in Jupiter with my gal pals. It is along the Loxahatchee River carving through preserved cypress forest. Cypress trees are an incremental part of the South Florida ecosystem, separating the eastern pine forests from the Everglades on the west. Unfortunately, a majority of trees have been devastated due to development and the mulch industry. Yes, we were cutting down native trees to make mulch for your garden. When these wetland trees are cut, it provides a breezeway for hurricanes to tear through the state since there is no natural buffer. Many home gardens with cypress mulch have created a red carpet welcoming for storms like Hurricane Irma. Educate yourself on garden products to make a happier Florida.

There is no feeling like paddling a route for the first time, it is like a first date. You’re a little nervous but excited. River Bend gives a “super date” feeling, with low hanging branches and prevalent wildlife, it feels like you are paddling the jungle. There were points where we had to lay flat on our boards to go under trees and almost every one of us took a branch to the face. Luckily, the adventure only brought us laughs and minimal injuries.

If you have a few paddles under your belt and consider yourself fit, paddle the jungle! You will feel like a conquistador, navigating wild and undisturbed Florida. You may even be braver, since many conquistadors chickened out on their Everglades expeditions and reported sighting unicorns to Spanish royalty. Talk about cheating on your homework! I sadly did not see a single mythical beast on my paddle, not even Skunk Ape. However, osprey, river otters, alligators and sea birds are inhabitants of the area.

Leave the triangle bikini at home because jungle paddling requires contorting and leaps, which could result in a wardrobe malfunction. I prefer to wear a Nalu Tribe surf set to keep me comfortable, decent and dried quickly after a spill into the river.

Much credit due:

{For the Rad Surf Set} Nalu Tribe X Schatzi Brown in Wave Rider Crop and Capri Legging. Use Code “GlobalLocal” for 15% off.

{For the Knowledge} The most excellent Environmental Science and Policy program at the University of South Florida and The Swamp by Michael Grunwald.

1 comment
  1. Carlie
    January 17, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    I apprecite you talking about the cypress trees and tying in the negative affects with the mulch industry. This place looks amazing,thanks for sharing. How I miss paddling with you…until next time!

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