Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wekiva River

I paddled the Wekiva River this morning, Tuesday, April 28, 2009 with a special guest. My sister, Monica. Her second appearance on Dave's Yak Tales.
I think she has tied brother Pete with two appearance on Dave's Yak Tales.
She was in town of a yoga seminar. Which got me thinking, and I sent her the floowing message:

if you can miss a morning or afternoon session to go kayaking..... I can arrange my schedule to get a morning or afternoon off. Hmmm... breathing, rhythmic arm movements, I'm practicing yoga with even knowing it in the yak.

We met at Wekiwa Springs State Park and were on the River at 9:30. It was good to have a companion. At the suggestion of a fellow paddler I wheeled the yak down a boardwalk instead of the sand/dirt hill. I learned I cannot navigate two turns. So, Monica lifted the back end to negotiate the turns, My yak is 14 foot, I believe J.B''s is 9.

We launched just in time. An armada of canoes was on the beach. I asked the canoe wrangler who they were for. "A school group of twenty one" If it was a school group, it must have been a private one, as public schools don't have the 2-1 teacher-pupil ratio I saw later in the morning.

Monica and I had a leisurely two hour paddle. More leisurely for me than her, in a rental Otter kayak.

The only otter we saw. Lots of alligators.

Speaking of vicious creatures, I gave in and made the google billionaires 20 bucks richer by purchasing a year of storage. Google has a 1GB limit of free storage. They owe me a day. The website states "it may take 24 hours". It got well past that time, and "My Account" stated I have 10GB storage. Yet I still could not download pics. No answer to a email for help. It took some digging to find the answer. I had to go to the Picassa site first, then back to Bloger. It would be nice if they told users that from the get go.

But, I'm back.

The advantage of having a fellow paddler. This is the first picture showing all of the new kayak. And first of me since brother Pete and I kayaked at the Currituck Lighthouse.


We paddled to past Wekiva Marina to the beginning of the open area with the large Indian Mound in the distance. I was pressed for time, so we turned back. We saw limpkins, ibis, blue great blue, green herons, anhingas, red shouldered hawks, wood ducks, and vultures.

Female wood duck.

Great blue heron.

Green heron.


We saw a huge snapping turtle in the lagoon just off the launch as we started out. Probably the same one I've seen many times. Monica saw it first. We passed a log on our left, and I said to look for an alligator. The log was vacant. On the return it was occupied by the turtle and alligator in the first photo. There were half a dozen litttle gators visible to our left as we approached the big one. Must be mama. We landed afer a nice two hour paddle. No time for dip in the Spring.

On a technical note, the $20 I spent may be worth it. Pictures take just as long to download, but it seems once posted, it is much easier to drag them from the top of the page to the body of the Tale.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Turkey Creek

Sunday, April 26, 2009. Click the title for a report posted on the Green Wave Forum.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blackwater Creek, A Tale in Two Parts.

I kayaked Blackwater Creek today, Saturday, April 25, 2009. The "Two Part Tale" is the result of launching in the Seminole State Forest and the Lake Norris Conservation Area.
I had to get a State Forest Use Permit to launch in the Forest. That gave me the combination to unlock the gate at the entrance off State Road 46, just across the Wekiva River. I was in the Creek at 7:40. My first visit since the July 4 weekend. Back then, I was unable to go all the way to the Wekiva, 5 miles downstream. A tree blocked the Creek 90 minutes downstream. Today's paddle was even shorter. 25 minutes before a fallen tree dammed the Creek. So upstream I went, past the launch site.

After just a few minutes I reached the mass of plants in the top photo. I pushed through it. And another. When I got to the third vegetative blockage, I turned back. I did not even make it to Moccasin Spring.
Saw some wood ducks, a raccoon, and limpkins.

A blocked Creek is the price you pay for paddling a truly wild waterway. I landed, after only an hour, sat at the launch site picnic table, enjoying the view, pondering what to do.
I decided to go to the Lake Norris Conservation Area, about 15 miles away, and paddle Blackwater Creek at its source, Lake Norris. One hour three minutes between the photo and this, taken as soon as I was back in Blackwater Creek.

The Creek is very low. Every minute or so I was pushing off another log. I had to get out at one point, dragging the yak on the bank. This is the launch site.

The first time I yaked here, back in 2005, the boards were underwater.
But, I knew I would soon be in Lake Norris and deep water.

And choppy. The forecast for winds of 20 mph in the afternoon was accurate. Not a good day to be kayaking a large lake. Unless that lake is Lake Norris. Cypress tress rim the shore, allowing the kayaker to paddle inside a natural breakwater.

The cypresses are prime osprey nesting sites.

And great egrets.

I had the Lake almost to myself. One fishing boat. One reptile.

The cypress trees make this a unique paddle.

Back into the Creek, dealing with the low water. I think I'll wait for the upcoming rainy season to raise the water level before my next visit.

I landed about 2:00, as a gopher tortoise ambled by. Had a sandwich at the lone picnic table, then got the yak on the car. Took the scenic route home. Through the Seminole State Forest. Entering from the north end, of State Highway 44, unlocking the north gate. A slow 8 mile or so drive on gravel roads. Stopped at the launch site.

Stopped before that when I saw a sign "Observation Blind" A short trail leads to a blind on the edge of a clearing. I did not stay long enough to observe anything. Bear Pond is near the south entrance. This is a "borrow pit"---Dug out for roads. It is stocked with fish. Nice fishing pier.

I walked around the pond to conclude the day. Home in time to see the first of the Packers two picks in the first round.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Winter Park Chain

Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden, Lake Osceola. I launched from Fort Maitland Park, in Maitland, just south of the intersection of 17/92 and Maitland Aveune, on Lake Maitland, at 9:00 am. South across the Lake to Kraft Azlaea Gardens to see it the wood ducks I saw two weeks ago were on the dock. No. Replaced by anglers. But the cypress trees echoed with bird sounds. I only saw one great egret, but there had to be many more, hidden in the trees. Perhaps I could not see what was making the racket as it was chicks in well concealed nests.

I've just found out I've reached 1GB of storage for Dave's Yak Tales. Which is the Blogger limit. That means I can't post more photos. I need to see what I can do. I do not want to spend 20 bucks a year to get more space.

Back to the Tale. Followed a canoeing couple through the Venetian Canal. I don't think
the knew I was there. Across Lake Osceola to the Polasek, then the Fern Canal to Lake Virginia. As I paddled to the Genius Canal, a young bald eagle flew overhead. Or was it an osprey ? Perhaps it would land on a tree in Lake Mizell. But, the Canal was blocked by floating yellow barriers. The kind used when waterways- the Wekiva River , for example are being treated to remove unwanted weeds like hydrilla. A general web search and a search of the City of Winter Park website doesn't provide an answer to why Lake Mizell is blocked.

But, it turned out for the best. I paddled along the western edge of Lake Virginia. This part of the Lake has very a little bit of undeveloped shore, and even the mansions are set back behind natural shore. I heard peacocks, saw an otter. Turned around, and keeeeee, the juvenile bald eagle flew overhead.

I paddled back to the launch, landing at 11:00. Saw blue herons, great blue herons, ibis, anhingas, cormorants, belted kingfishers, gulls, mallards, coots, moorhens, wood ducks and a wood stork.

4-30-09. I deiced to spend the $20.00, so here are more photos.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wekiva River

It's nice when the first photo I take on a kayak outing gets top billing on a Yak Tale. I paddled the Wekiva River today, Sunday April 19, 2009. Launched from Wilson's Landing Park, south of State Highway 46. As far as I know, Katies Landing is still closed. If anyone knows otherwise, let me know. My new cart came in handy this morning as there is walk of 50 yards or so from the parking area to the bank of the Wekiva. As I was getting set to get out, another yakker rolled his kayak down, and a canoer fished in the center of the River. The homemade PVC cart in the bushes must have been his.

It was my first time on this part of the Wekiva since January. The Wekiva is broad, shallow and full of vegetation at Wilson's Landing.

Good for great egrets, black crowned night herons and limpkins.

Not so good if the wind is blowing hard out of the south and you are battling it and the current.

But, soon the forest closes in, and the wind is not an issue.

I have no clue why my red kayak is yellow/gold in the photo. You'd think I was in the old one. I saw about ten boats, canoes, kayaks, a couple motor boats, and the Wekiva Falls pontoon tour boat in the two hour paddle to the Buffalo Tram campsite. Two alligators.

The scene as I landed at Buffalo Tram.

I can't believe I've never noticed this contraption off to the right at the campsite.

A relic from by-gone logging days ?

After a break, I headed downstream.

Here's the "red" kayak again.

Green heron,

Several Indian Mounds line both the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run. One, Twin Mounds, is on the west bank of the Wekiva, upriver of Buffalo Tram. It's hard to find, at least for me. This may be it.

I write "may" as it is obviously a shell mound, higher than the adjacent bank, snail shells embedded in the soil. I have landed at Twin Mounds before, and this was in the same general area. In the past, I was able to rum my yak part way on the bank. Today I could not. I was either in a different spot, or the drought has made the bank higher. One way to find out would have been to step out, walk up the bank and look for the mounds- which have a short boardwalk and interpretive signs, but the bottom was to mucky. So, I stayed in the kayak and continued downstream.

Human activity on the River increased as I neared Wekiva Falls. Folks in rental canoes. Past that point is where the River broadens. Good for waders.

Observant readers will note the lack of breeding plumage on the great blue heron. Breeding seems to be over on the Wekiva, at least for this bird. It may be one of two I saw earlier nest building in a tall pine on the east bank. Another bird behavior story. On the upstream paddle, a female wood duck directed its brood into cover under plants. I was a good twenty yards away. Once the chicks were hidden, mama flew towards me, wings beating the water. She then veered off, flying ahead of me, still beating the water. I think the noise was to draw me, or any other predator away from the chicks.

I was drawn to this tree, across from Wilson's Landing.

Full of cattle egrets, but it led me to the third alligator, and only gator picture of the day.

I ended the afternoon with a short, 4.5 mile, bike ride on the nearby Seminole-Wekiva Trail.