Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rock Springs Run

See the dark shape in the above picture ? It's a Florida black bear. First one I've seen since last July on Alexander Creek, and so the first on Dave's Yak Tales. This is the fifth time I've seen a bear or bears, on Rock Springs Run. Which is one reason why Rock Springs Run is my favorite paddle. If you are a frequent visitor to Dave's Yak Tales, you already know that. This is my 11th Rock Springs Run post, plus a few Wekiva River paddles with a brief detour up the Run.

A line had already formed at the gate to Wekiwa Springs State Park this day after the 4th, Saturday, July 5, 2008, anticipating the 8:00 am opening. After dragging the yak down the long sandy hill, I was in the water at 8:20. A small alligator swam just off the launch area, a green heron clucked, and flew off for a better perch. I saw two more green herons on Wekiva as I paddled towards Rock Springs Run. No pictures. Here are pictures of a few birds on the Run.

Apparently the limpkin has a hard time making friends. I could not make friends, because other than two canoes returning from a campsite, I saw no one for two hours, more than halfway. Just the way I like it. Paddlers began coming down from King's Landing. I paused to let a train of six or seven canoes pass. A few were looking to their left. One guy said "alligator". A gentleman passing me said there was a bear. Where ? His left. I paddled up stream, and asked a canoer, ground or tree ? Seemed like an obvious question but the paddler looked perplexed. The bear, I began to explain, then I saw it, lying on the ground about 10 yards into the forest.

I maneuvered to get a better view. The thick vegetation, saw palmetto and other foliage obscured the view, so you'll have to trust me. The black lump is the bear. You can see an ear in this shot.

I missed the picture when the bear got up, and looked toward me, lighter color fur on the nose. It then walked parellel to the run for a few steps, turned and ambled deep into the woods.

I ambled on myself, continuing upstream. Passed King's Landing, going up the beautiful. clear upper Run where few people venture, until I saw this.

The plastic chain extended across the narrow Run. I ducked below and continued. Who, or what, thinks they have the right to block a navigable waterway ? It could be Orange County. A site called "Third landing" is a short paddle up from the sign. It's a picnic area for County employees, a non- public part of Kelly Park. It is already posted. But the waterway ? I need to investigate further. I planned to turn around at third landing anyway, and I did. As I drifted, I thought of several places that, I'm glad I visited before they were posted. Fern Hammock, Rainbow Swamp Springs Run, the landing area on the Hontoon Dead River, Juniper Wayside, now this. The moral is, get out and paddle now, you may be denied access later.

Here's the photo that would have led off this Tale if not for the bear.

Or maybe this one.

After the hard, almost 4 hour trip upstream, I planned to take it easy downstream. That changed when I heard voices and the clang of canoe paddle on aluminum behind me. I had two choices, let the pass me, or paddle hard to put some distance between us. I chose the later. It paid off.

Thats an otter's head at the bottom of the log. One of three. Next, three views of an alligator



Looking back.

Gotta have a turtle shot,

and a great blue heron.

Bear, otters, alligators, would I see a deer ? No. But 1 bear and three otters is a fair trade. The last half mile or so of Rock Springs Run and the Wekiva up to the Park was packed with paddlers. I'm glad I got the early start and did the upstream paddle. I landed a bit past 4, almost eight hours on the water. I dragged the yak up the mountain and decided I would only take a dip in the crowded Spring if I was able to snag a parking space. There was a space. The swim was very refreshing, and I only bumped into one other person.

After my swim, I took a short walk on the "Wet to Dry" boardwalk and headed home from my favorite place to paddle.


chiefg said...

I couldnt make heads or tails of the sign either, even though it was my first time up the run on Saturday.It seemed out of place considering all the other places I have been that are located on private property.

Dave said...

As posted on your report, how the heck did we not see each other Saturday ?

chiefg said...

I think we did, but both of probably pretty tired and not paying attention too much, I was going upstream you downstream when we passed I beleive just before Kings Landing.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I made the trip 08/10/08, this last sunday. Our tandem was faster than the loon we rented from wekiva, we couldnt of made it in that kayak. It was tireing, we live 4 miles from wekiva park,we were tired too, our kayak took a dump off of the top of the mini van, my husband saw it slip so we turned on a little side rode were it proceedecto slip to the ground, no worrys just a nose bang, those roto molds can take a beeting, we werent surprised we just sinched it back up and went home. Great paddle cant wait to do it again, but maybe not all the way to kings landing. Have fun everybody!!!!

Dave said...

What's your license plate number ?

So I can keep my distance.. hee, hee.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry dave, things happen, we brought our kayak from sarasota, last saturday from there we came home to longwood with no problem. we will still be out ther, maybe see you sometime on the water.