Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blue Springs State Park

Sunday, October 26, 2008 I visited Blue Springs State Park. I had to slow down as I drove in on the Park road, to let three turkeys cross. Closer to the parking lot, an even larger flock. Temperatures are getting lower, the overnight low was 58 in Orlando. Perhaps I'd spot a manatee in Blue Spring Run. I snorkeled the Run, a bit farther than on my last visit as the water level has receded enough to re-open the swim dock. No manatees. Just gar, tilapia and mullet. I took photos, none Yak Tales worthy. Viewed from the boardwalk, the clear water from the Spring has pushed the tannic waters of the St Johns further out of the Run as the later slowly recedes. To the car to remove the yak, where a red shouldered hawk wrestled with something in its beak a few yards away.

Into the kayak, I paddled down the St Johns to Hontoon Island State Park. Into a strong north wind. I had a wind break early in the trip, touring the island across from the French Ave. launch. The tell tale circles of a manatee wake passed on my left. I paused, waiting for it to surface. It did not. An alligator did.

Blue heron and snowy egret.

As I approached the north end of Hontoon Island and the State Park docks and day use area, the wind wiped the waves across Lake Beresford, making a splashy paddle. Fortunately, I was soon in the east-west section of the River, out of the wind. Hontoon Island State Park has just reopened after Fay's floods. The campgrounds and hiking trails remain closed. I paddled around the tip, paddling over a manatee. I did not see it, but the concentric circles of its wake are unmistakable. As earlier, it did not surface while I watched. Into the Hontoon Dead River I paddled.

This used to be my lunch stop, until the signs and fence went up. Stopping at the docks is too early in the trip. This was perfect, about half way in the Hontoon Loop, the only place to land in normal water level, and access to the Park's trails to stretch your legs. I miss it. I did stop, paddling behind the fence, getting out- in the water, not beaching, to stretch, take food out of the cooler, and attend to personal business. Here is a picture of the same area, in mid August, prior to TS Fay. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_If3lvXROVV0/SKdwplyEZNI/AAAAAAAAC7s/u7g7EOqBTBI/s1600-h/IMG_5897.JPG

Back in the HDR, I munched on chicken as the wind blew me southward.

Tri colored heron and anhinga perching.

Into the northernmost canal. Before I left, I asked one of the tour boat captains if it was open. He thought it was, but as his boat can't fit even in normal conditions, he could not give a definitive answer. My last visit it was clogged on the east end. There's a picture of the clog from that 10-5-08 paddle. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_If3lvXROVV0/SOl2o_vxHPI/AAAAAAAAEgw/pna1F9Nxvlw/s1600-h/IMG_6753.JPG

I made it through. A few more down limbs than usual, and I had to force my way through several yards of matted vegetation at the end.

A canal view.

Back to the St Johns, I looked for manatees in several places where I've seen them before. Didn't see any, but I was rewarded by a bald eagle soaring overhead as I came out of the lagoon south of Blue Spring Run. I paddled into the Run, where canoers said they saw a manatee. "Until I splashed and scared it away" Ay yi yi, some people. At this time of day, boats can't go beyond the swim dock. At the dock a ranger was telling a small group about proper human- manatee interaction. Boiled down to, keep your distance. I did not see the manatee.

I landed, not at the usual spot, that is still underwater. It won't surprise me if the park makes the new launch site permanent when the River falls. It is farther away from the manatee refuge area. On the other hand, the temporary area will cause more erosion. It will be interesting to see what happens.

I had my bike with me. In June, a short trail opened. 3.3 miles from just outside the Park to Lake Beresford Park. I have not biked for far to long, and the new trail was a wonderful incentive.

I took it easy, only going 3 miles, (6 total)one the Park Road, then the trail. The trail is wonderful. Curvy and undulating for Central Florida. Shaded, which in summer will be welcome.

On the topic of weather, the 40's are forecast for Tuesday night. I don't work until 12:30 Wednesday. I think a morning snorkel and bike ride are in order. Launching and reattaching the yak to the car would take too much time. So, check in Thursday, there may be manatee photos.

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