Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chassahowitzka River

Happy Memorial Day. From the wet ground when I got home tonight, it rained again in Winter Park. No rain on me on the Chassahowitzka and a couple of its spring fed tributaries.

The west coast sea breeze pushed the clouds shown above across the penisula, where the met the east coast sea breeze and boom ! More rain at my house in the middle. I did hear some booms, and saw lightining, but the storms were east of me.

This paddle is a reprise of last Memorial Day. I considered Rock Springs Run and the Hillsborogh River, but thought all the rain would make those waterways high and fast. Too much work to paddle upstream on a third consecutive kayak outing. The Chass is wider than the other two, so the 8 1/4 inches it has received this month would be diffused, not concentrated in a narrow channel. Except in the tributaries, the rain would make them easier to paddle.

I arrived at a busy Chassahowitzka Campground boat launch before 9 am. Boaters and kayakers, perhaps 10 of the latter. I was in at 9:10.

Some of the yakers must have gone to up to the Solution Holes. I went down River. Stopped at Houseboat Springs. No manates this Memorial Day. Then into Baird Creek, briefly. I heard voices ahead, so I turned around back to the Chas. I prefer privacy paddling. So, back to the Chas, passing two paddlers, entering the channel less traveled.

That would be the right channel where three islands split the Chas down River of Baird's Creek. Too shallow for motor boats. After a short paddle, I was back in the main channel. Very little traffic.

I paddled past the Dog Island Rest Area, beyond three or four houses at the end of a penisula-looks like water access only. Past the sign marking the southwest border of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Not to far past, the open Gulf looked to be a good mile or two away.

Back into the Wildlife Refuge.

Saw the first alligator of the day in a creek just down River of the Dog Island dock. Shortly thereafter, I heard an exhale that wasn't mine. A dolphin.

I crossed the Chas, entering Crawford Creek. Up the Creek and Blue Run to Blue Run Spring.

Where I had lunch and a snorkel. This lime green stuff is just outside the spring.

Funky. Hopefuly it won't spread so most of the Run will continue to look like this.

Back to funky. This structure is at the confluence of Crawford Creek and Blue Run. >

Back to the Chas. I saw towo big birds perched across the River. I paddled into the wind for a closer look. Vultures I did not see any eagles this paddle. The breeze and incoming tide made the upstream paddle easy. I entered Potter Creek, up River and on the opposite side of Crawford.

Paused at Potter Spring, looking at the empty log where I saw an alligator my last visit. A log I've used to enter the spring. Briefly thought of going in, and decied not to. This was before I looked at the other side of the spring.

I paused at Potter Spring, because a narrow run enters the Spring, leading to the lovely Ruth Spring

I exited Ruth, back to Potter, where the gator, who got tired of posing and slid into the water, was back. But not for long.

I saw four gators in Potter Creek, here's another.

Back in the Chass, eastern sky getting dark. Thunder, lightening. Far away, but boaters raced to shelter. One asked if I was ok. I was, if a stray bolt hit, I'd go happy. Went into the shallow channel, saw some otters.

>Back in the main channel.

I was thinking of manatees, and there one was. Just to my right and below. It stayed underwater, surfacing in the middle of the Chassahowitzka. Briefly, as a power boat drove it under. I had the trifecta. Alligator, dolphin and manatee the same day. Plus otters. No bald eagles, but you can't have everything.

I landed a bit past 4, a nice 7 hour holiday paddle.

On the way home, I stopped at the Van Fleet Trail. One of 4 paved bike trails between the Chas and home. There was a time when I'd bike the entire 29 mile Trail. And back. Just six this time. But, I rode the bike three days straight. Gotta do it more. Saw a deer just before I turned around. I was to slow to get a photo of the deer. Here is the trail.

Final pic, rainbow on the 408 toll road in Orlando. Not bad at 60 mph.

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