Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rock Springs Run

Saturday, January 31, 2009 was a cool day in Florida, forecast high just 60. So, I stayed close to home. No sense driving a long way to paddle somewhere that may be even cooler. Besides, it had 15 days since I paddled Rock Springs Run.

It was 40 degrees when I launched from Wekiwa Springs State Park at 7:30. As usual on cool mornings, fog rose from the warm Wekiva River.

To foggy to get the colors of wood ducks. The fog lifted a bit as I reached Rock Springs Run.

The two limpkin pictures are the same bird. The top pic is with the flash, or sun, or both. I forget, it was a long day. More birds up Run. Hawk.


Great Egret.

One deer dashed across the Run, a flash of tail, and it was gone. Just 4 paddlers coming from Kings Landing, a group of three kayakers, later, a father and son in a rental canoe. I was well past half way when I encountered them. I paddled past the canal to Kings Landing turning around past "Third Landing", but before the home on the Run downstream of Kelly Park. Three hours forty-five minutes upstream. The next photo is taken after the turn around.

As I have written before, unless they take an upstream detour from Kings Landing, most folks don't see the most scenic part of Rock Springs Run. As I passed Kings Landing, I saw three craft ahead of me. I passed a canoeing couple, then waited for the two further ahead to get some distance in front of me. Which took a while, as they were going slow.

Back to the State Park waters, as marked by the above sign. I stopped at the usual spot for lunch. The canoeing couple passed. I saw them again, heading upstream. Later, the other group also came back. I saw just four more people, in two canoes, until I got close to Wekiwa Springs. I saw just one turtle on the way upstream, but as the weather warmed a bit, more came out to sun.

Maybe, I'd see an alligator as the sun rose higher. I did, 1:20 pm.

An hour later, shortly after passing the two canoes mentioned earlier, I saw the second, and final deer of the day. It did not stay in view long, but I was able to get a picture.

This extends the deer photos from Rock Springs Run streak to 13 consecutive trips since October 15, 2008. Also spotted, briefly, otters in two locations.

I'm not sure if these are the same ibis as the earlier pic, but they are at the same spot, six and a half hours later.

I'm always excited when I capture a belted kingfisher.

Wekiva River wildlife.

The blue heron was sharing a log with these guys.

More sharing, in the lagoon. Tri colored heron.

This snowy egret was just outside the Spring.

Waitng for supper, no doubt.

I landed at 3;30, another 8 hour kayaking day. As you see from the last picture, I snorkeled the Spring. No one was in it at first, then one guy, swimming back and forth. Not a knucklehead kicking up the bottom like last time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lake Maitland and Lake Minnehaha

A morning paddle on the northern part of the Winter Park Chain today, Wednesday, January 28, 2009. I got a two hour paddle in from 8:30 to 10:30. From the Fort Maitland Park launch I headed east across the northern edge of Lake Maitland. I wanted to paddle in a scenic canal at the northeast corner of the Lake, an neighborhood where I ran and biked years ago. Despite having paddled there before, I somehow missed it. So I continued on, heading south to one of two islands in Lake Maitland, the Isle of Sicily. The first photo is the bridge that joins Sicily to the Winter Park mainland. Here's a closer view.

This bridge, and the bridges across the canals attaching the lakes, are one thing that make this a scenic paddle. The Isle of Sicily has a few huge homes. I thought of taking a picture of a mansion, but decided to concentrate on wildlife. If a house provides background, fine.

The second of the two islands in Lake Maitland is Dog Island. Smack dab in the middle of the Lake, it has no homes, unless you count a treehouse.

I landed on Dog Island for the first time. I knew it is a popular place, I did not realize it had a picnic table and grill,

and fire pit.

And a lot of bottles and cans. I should bring a big trash bag someday. I must confess, I left Dpg Island as I found it. I did leave Fort Maitland Park cleaner then when I arrived. I left, paddling north to the canal leading to Lake Minnehaha. Here a woodduck couple lead me out of the canal.

The Winter Park Chain has a lot of these colorful birds. They are skittish, but there are so many eventualy I can find find one standing still for a moment.

I was in Lake Minnehaha briefly, but saw an otter. It took cover in the shoreline vegetation, so no photo. Here are more birds from both lakes and the canal.

Anhinga, red bellied woodpecker, and osprey. Another scenic bridge, this over the Maitland to Minnehaha Canal.

Great blue heron taking off.

My flight photos are getting much better. I credit the 8.0 pixels in the camera I've had since October, up from 6.0.

Good for getting shots that will make your hair stand on end.

A silhouette.

It is not the photographer, nor the camera that makes good pictures. It is the subject matter, and I'm blessed to have a lot of good subjects. In this Tale, just a mile out my door.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wekiva River

I paddled the Lower Wekiva River today, Sunday, January 25, 2009 for the first time since July 19, 2008. Katie's Landing, the usual put in for this trip, has been closed for renovations. It was long past time to check out the alternate put in, Wekiva Haven, down the road from Katie's. I had launched from there before, prior to discovering Katie's.

Passing Katie's evidence of construction is obvious. Concrete slab with plumbing coming up. Future restrooms. I wonder why it is taking so long. Since my last visit there is a new strip mall and almost completed condo complex on nearby State Road 46. Private vs. government work, maybe ?

I arrived at Wekiva Haven, only to find it is also closed. I drove to the launch area anyway, saw horses blocked the ramp. A sign on the concession building read. "Thank you for 50 years, 1958- 2008, closed September 2008" A fisherman arrived. He also did not know the place had closed. He decided he would go to Highbanks Marina on the St Johns. I told him I had planned on paddling the other direction, away from the St Johns, and did not want to be on the St Johns on a Sunday. He understood, boat traffic is heavy and fast between Highbanks and the Wekiva. Very different from the Blue Spring to Hontoon State Park section. Where to go ? I thought of Wekiva Falls, but I seemed to recall it had a substantial launch fee, $5-10. I decided I would investigate Wilson's Landing Park.

This Seminole County facility is south of State Road 46, Katies and Wekiva Haven are north. I had read a report on Paddling.net about someone launching from the Park. I sent an email to the paddler that wrote it. He responded "As you said, I just slide down the bank." This was back in March 2007. I've paddled past the Park many times since then, but could never see from the water a good place to put in.

I arrived the Park, parked in the asphalt lot, and walked to the River. A concrete walkway leads to an observation/fishing pier. To high to launch. To the right, a pine needle covered path leads to the bank.

Works for me. I also saw a car parked in a grass/sand area at the end of a dirt path. This made for a shorter carry to the water. The lot is on the other side of a fence that appears to mark the Park boundary, so I moved the car back to the paved lot. On my return, a car with a Thule rack (that's a brand of cartop carrier) was in the lot. As I loaded my yak, a county sheriff had no comment as he drove past. So, it must be ok to park there.

On to the paddle. I went south, upstream. Lots of algae.

Which is of interest to the State Department of Enviornmental Protection.

The algae coverage is extensive near Wilson's Landing, covering much of the River.

It thins out upstream, concentrating along the bank.

The algae stops completely ten minutes paddling time upstream of Wekiva Falls. I saw no more all the way to Buffalo Tram, today's turn around. Think I should bill the State a consulting fee ? ;)

At Wekiva Falls, I asked some folks preparing to launch what it cost. Nine dollars. Wilson's Landing is free.

Here's some of the day's wildlife.

Lots of turtles sunning. I expected to see alligators on this first warm day in a week. Warm enough to take off the long sleeves on the way back from Buffalo Tram. No gators.

Great egret photos- these are not the same bird. In flight.

Take off.


Here I approach Wilson's Landing at the end of the day. Two hours to Buffalo Tram. a 30 minute lunch, walk and get water out of the yak break, two hours back. 5 other boats on the Wekiva, all paddle powered.