Environmental Leadership Spring Break Trip

Updates from the Loxahatchee: Environmental Leadership Goes to South Florida

Molly Holt ’12

Yesterday kicked off Eisenhower Institute’s Environmental Leadership Spring Break trip to Palm Beach, Florida. The entire day was spent kayaking the Loxahatchee River in Davidson State Park. We began the trip by pairing off into twos and choosing our kayak for the next six hours.

The first few moments of the trip were nerve wracking as everybody adjusted to their paddles and partners, but after fifteen minutes most of the group began to get the hang of the kayaks. Within the first hour we saw an alligator swimming through the water with only its eyes peaking out of the river. Fish were jumping out of the water, and wildlife was abound inside this state park.

Throughout first four hours of the trip, we weaved through a narrow river, going under and over logs, through trees hanging down and surviving a few capsizes. One of the most memorable moments of the trip was a large log we struggled to pass. Our leader, Howard Ernst, an experienced boater, jumped out of his boat to push ours under the large fallen tree. As we were being pushed through, we all noticed a baby alligator sitting on the banks, not more than two feet away from our boats.

As we exited the narrow stretch of the river, we paddled into a wide basin, where the width of the river quadrupled in size. Although the weather was beautiful for the first part of the day, just as we hit the wide part, the sky began to turn dark. Fifteen minutes into the second part of the trip, the sky opened up and it began to rain, paired with a feisty wind. Although the paddling was some of the hardest I have ever done, the breathtaking views of the river were well worth the struggle. We saw alligators, new insects, jumping fish, and a possible manatee sighting, along with the beautiful trees, including mangroves and fallen palm trees.

The kayak trip was an experience of a lifetime, and I will not soon forget the Loxahatchee River or its inhabitants.