Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rock Springs Run

I closed out Thanksgiving weekend, 2008 with a local paddle, Rock Springs Run, from Wekiwa Springs State Park, 12 miles from home. This concluded a great weekend which took me west to Crystal River Turkey Day, east to the Canaveral National Seashore Friday, and north to the Silver River, Saturday. http://www.mapquest.com/maps?1c=Winter+Park&1s=FL&2c=Crystal+River&2s=FL#a/maps/l:::Winter+Park:FL::US:28.599701:-81.339401:city:Orange+County:1/l:::Crystal+River:FL::US:28.902201:-82.592796:city:Citrus+County:1/l:::Winter+Park:FL::US:28.599701:-81.339401:city:Orange+County:1/l:::New+Smyrna+Beach:FL::US:29.0256:-80.9272:city:Volusia+County:1/l:::Winter+Park:FL::US:28.599701:-81.339401:city:Orange+County:1/l:::Silver+Springs:FL::US:29.2164:-82.0578:city:Marion+County:1/l:::Winter+Park:FL::US:28.599701:-81.339401:city:Orange+County:1/m:::::0:::::/io:1:::::f:EN:M:/e

The Mapquest link gives an idea of my travels. Not entirely accurate, I took a more direct route to the Silver River.

I launched today, Sunday, November 30, at 8:45. Blue sky, warm weather, 70's. The forecast called for 20-25 mph wind and rain by the afternoon. Rock Springs Run is my windy day paddle. A short drive, so less car/kayak issues, and a 75% tree lined paddle, so the wind is not much of a problem. Unless a tree falls on me, but a least I'd go happy.

Three folks launched just ahead of me, a solo and tandem kayak. I passed them on the Wekiva before getting to Rock Springs Run. Saw the usual fauna.

Deer, including bucks with impressive antlers, have been common on Rock Springs Run this month. The pictured one was just downstream of Otter Camp, on the left. Appropriately, I saw a small otter near the aforementioned camp site.

As I paddled upstream, I noticed something I had not observed the last three days. Sweat. It was humid, as well as warm. Overhead, clouds moved quickly across the sky. No one was camping at any of the three campsites, but a large group was set up on a high dry site on the left, past Otter Camp, before Indian Mound. I asked if they were there to avoid the four dollar fee. No, came the response, we pay, it this is just a better site. I think they did pay. On the way back, the now empty site was pristine. I did not see any paddlers on Rock Springs Run until I was well past the halfway point, when a family in two canoes came downstream. I asked if many people were at Kings Landing, from where they came. We were the only ones, they said. And they were. I paddled past the canal that leads to Kings Landing, and continued up the Run until a tree blocked my way. I could have gone under, but I had been out 3.5 hours and it was pouring. So I turned around. The rain stopped, as did I, for lunch. I had come prepared, a windbreaker in my cooler. In a different compartment from the chicken and water bottles. I traded wet t-shirt for jacket, and continued downstream.

Pictured are great egret, ibis, limpkin, and green heron. I also saw great blue herons, red shouldered hawks, belted kingfishers and vultures. The rain kept the birds down. Not to mention alligators. Early in the day, with bright sun, I thought, I'll see a lot of gators. I saw none. It got dark, very dark. Hard rain. But, it eventually stopped.

This deer had been sitting out the storm.

It stood up, shook itself off like a dog (I'm sure the deer thinks dogs shake off water like a deer)

And continued her lunch.

I saw this deer a half hour later.

Note how smooth the coat is, compared to the mangy hide of the other deer. Fur dries in thirty minutes. I saw the fourth deer of the day, another buck, shortly after this one. It was to far away, head and antlers popping above the emergent vegetation as it walked near the bank, eventually climbing up the bank and into the woods. Four deer matched the number of occupied boats I saw. "Occupied" as there were empty canoes at the campsite mentioned earlier. I landed just after 4. No one was on the water. On a Sunday. Nothing like a little rain.

After dragging the yak up the hill, I found out it was more than a little rain. A tornado warning had been in effect for much of the afternoon. Tired, wet and cold, I did not take a dip in the Spring, or take a short hike, but came home. But not before seeing something I hoped to see all weekend.

Four days in which I saw, and shared, views of manatees, dolphins, bald eagle, monkeys, alligators, and deer, it is appropriate that a turkey, one of three, is the last animal I saw.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Silver River and Alexander Creek

Day Three of the Thanksgiving Yakapalooza took me to the Silver River. It had been awhile since I paddled the Silver, June 28, five months ago. I was on the water at 7:45, warm water and cool air creating an ethereal mist. So early, the birds were asleep.

I put in at Ray's Wayside Park, one of two places to launch on the River, the other being Silver River State Park.

As I was starting, a couple in a small boat with a very noisy motor, an old clunker with no cover, began going up the River. Great, I'm behind Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fortunately, they stopped, and I had the Silver River to myself the entire five miles to the head springs theme park area.

It took just under two hours to do the upstream trip. I did not think the Park was open when I arrived before 10. Which meant no glass bottom boats getting in my way as I viewed scenes like these.

Tri colored and blue heron in a patch of swamp sunflowers.

One of many springs.

10:00 am and cormorants are still asleep.

This great blue heron was wide awake, not sure about the alligator.

Great Egret, 1. Ibis, many.

The day turned warm. Folks coming upstream were shirtless. As were sun basking gators.

A guy takes enough pictures, sooner or later he gets one that will be on screen savers worldwide.

For the first time I, and perhaps you, dear reader, can see why this is called a "green" heron. I may be wrong about the screen saver thing, but I like it.

Nice, Dave, my public thinks, but where are the monkeys ?

On the left side of the River, downstream of the State Park overlook, upstream of the Park launch. My attention was drawn by the crashing of foliage. My first thought was deer, then recalling where I was, it had to be monkeys jumping from tree to tree. It was. A large troop, up to 25 rhesus monkeys.

I stopped at the Silver River State Park launch. The Park now has canoe rentals. This cuts the trip upstream in half. If you bring your own, its a long walk from the parking lot. Has to be a half mile. May as well launch at Ray's Wayside. Here's the view from the launch, which has a bench wear I had lunch.

Here's the view from the seat of my yak.

More paddlers than powerboats on the River. Most powerboats complied with the No Wake, Idle Speed restriction.

I landed at 12:30. Lots of day left, so I headed to Alexander Creek. A short paddle from the bridge to the Rec area and a snorkel in the Spring.

The incoming paddle had a lot of activity. I have never seen so many people fishing the Creek. All in rental canoes. When I landed, half a dozen kayaks lay on or near the ramp. A big group had just landed. But, after my swim and walk on the 1.1 mile Timucan Trail, I had the Creek to myself.




Three in one pic.

This bird was to far away for complete ID, but it does have the classic eagle profile. No white noggin, perhaps a young bald eagle.

Here is an osprey, at close range.

Another day, another paddle. I love November.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mosquito Lagoon, Canaveral National Seashore

Day Two of my four day holiday weekend was spent at the Canaveral National Seashore. I put in 10 am, headed north to Bethune Park. If any manatees were still around, they would likely be here. I did not see any, they have likely gone south to warmer waters, or to the Titusville power plant. Dolphins, were much more likely, or so I thought. I did not see any.

A beautiful morning. 70 degrees, flat water.

Mosquito Lagoon is an open water paddle. However, there is a marked trail through an island, Shipyard Island, that gets you out of the wide open Lagoon. This is where I saw more snowy egrets in one place than I have ever seen. See the first picture, which has great egrets and ibis in the background. More Shipyard shots.

The paddling trail through Shipyard Island is marked, but can be confusing. The markers are not consistent. At some you go right, others left. There are long gaps between markers in some sections. I was on one such section when I passed a green arrow pointing the other direction. So, I turned around, retraced my strokes and took another channel. Which took me out of the Island on the north end, instead of where I had entered. I was across from Bethune Park. Which was fine, except the weather changed. A strong wind out of the south, the direction I was paddling. I was happy to reach Turtle Mound to grab a bite and a view.

Make that views. Lagoon above, Atlantic below.

No manatees or dolphins, I did see a small sting ray. Bird highlight, besides all the snowys, was a young bald eagle. Here is a pelican in flight.

I paddled past my launch site, hoping to see dolphins, but not to far. It was nice to have the wind at my back for a little bit on the return. I landed at 2, somehow I spent 5 hours on the water, with a break at Turtle Mound.

After the yak was on the car, I took the bike off and went for a short ride, 4.75 miles, with stops at two nature trails. The Castle Windy Trail, and the Eldora Hammock Trail.

This sign is on the Hammock Trail. Wisdom from a fellow Wisconsinite.