Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hontoon Island Loop

I did the Hontoon Loop, Snake Creek version today, Sunday May 31, 2009. Finished the paddle accompanied by manatees in Blue Springs Run. Which is where I began the day.

I had a late start, up late watching the Magic post game festivities. 10:00 am and already a good crowd at Blue Springs State Park. My usual parking spot occupied. People at the swim dock, others floating down the Run. Another crowd at the swim/scuba entrance. I got in, and snorkeled to the Spring. No walking, the water level is high making the swim easier than it has been lately. You would think, or I did think, more water would make the flow faster. Then I heard a great explanation. Watch water drain from a sink. The last bit of water goes down the drain quickly. On the way to the Spring I passed folks walking up the Run, as scuba divers swam below. All the activity and the high water made visibility poor. At the Spring, more scuba divers in the hole, others standing on the rim. Way too crowded for me. But I did get a few pics, mullet mostly, on the down Run snorkel.

I got in the St Johns River at 11:00. Lots of pontoon boats out, the landing area for power boats outside Blue Spring Run full. I heard a group yaking on one boat. Had they been yaking ala me, they would have see this gator.

The alligator was one of just two I saw during my 4.5 hours on the water. Which was a low number for a sunny May day. On the other hand, the high water, flowing past the cypress trees well inland, meant fewer sunning logs that I could see.

Not a lot of birds either. This cormorant is the only photo during the hour paddle to Hontoon Island State Park.

I was glad to round the tip of Hontoon Island at the State Park. Too many fast boats in the St Johns. Fortunately, about half the paddle from Blue Spring to Hontoon is Slow No Wake. On the back side of the Island, all of the Hontoon Dead River is Slow No Wake. One criminal violated the law. I don't think I saw 4 boats on the HDR.

The photo with the fence is to show the water level. This former landing area usually has dry land in front of the barrier Although I am wondering what "usual" is. The water was even higher in August and September after Fay.

Into Snake Creek, where I saw no other people. Not much wildlife, either.

I heard lots of splashes as something- alligators probably, entered the Creek, unseen in the vegetation. Very few birds. But, then, a deer. A young buck. Velvet on the antlers. Just the second deer I've seen paddling the Hontoon Island Loop. I've seen other son the Island, but from the hiking trail. Sorry to say, no photos. Well, I have 2, but the buck is not in them.

I saw the buck just before Snake Creek enters the St Johns. It had splashed away after seeing me- perhaps I'd see it on the other side- the St Johns. No such luck.

It was nice to be on the water. Two gators, the buck made up for the lack of birds. I had checked out a few spots where I've seen manatees before, but saw none. Paddled up Blue Spring Run to the swim area- can't go past from 11 to 5, not expecting to see much, when, of course, I saw three manatees.

Eventually, 5 or 6 manatee were in the Run. Nice way to end the paddle. But not the day. Rode my bike 7.5 miles on the Park road and the bike path just outside.

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