St. Augustine resident Jodi Eller is the eleventh person, and very first woman, to have completed the 1,515-mile circumnavigational saltwater paddling trail around Florida. Eller completed most of the trail when she accompanied her husband Matt Keene, who was the first "thru paddler" of the trail, in 2008. She finished the remaining segments of the trail in 2013.
“This trail is amazing,” Eller told the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “It goes through so many different ecosystems. How the beaches change along the trail is just incredible. The trail made me a stronger paddler and it also redefined who I am in a way, bringing me back to the essence of being human. It’s a powerful experience to go through.”
There were some exciting moments along the way such as when she spotted a black bear cub in a tree while paddling the Crooked River near Carrabelle. Exploring the islands in the Indian River Lagoon and experiencing perfect water conditions while completing her last segment of the trip from Flamingo to Everglades City through Everglades National Park were moments Eller highlighted from her trip.
Jodi Eller spends her time at home as a kayaking guide for St. Augustine EcoTours and as an Environmental Science teacher at Flagler College. Drawing upon her experience and knowledge she offered advice for paddlers interested in taking on the trail in a recent DEP press release. “Do your research prior to your trip by reading everything on the trail website. Beginners paddling with friends can attempt this and build muscles and skill along the way, but it would be best to experience different types of water conditions first. Hopefully, more women will want to do it.”
For more information about the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail visit this website.