Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wekiva River

I did something today, Sunday, June 28, 2009, that I had not done for almost a year. Kayaked the Wekiva River, north, upstream of Highway 46. Katies Landing is still closed. Undergoing "improvements" that were not needed. It's been closed since last July. Looking at the Yak Tales archives, last July I was told it would reopen in March. As of now, the Lower Wekiva River home page states it will reopen in the summer of 2009. From what I can see from the water, they must be talking late summer, like September 21.

The old concrete dock is gone. Heavy machinery is visible (not here) on shore. A few months back, I saw concrete slabs and pvc pipes from the road. Future restrooms. The old launch dirt launch ramp is overgrown. What a waste of time and my money as a taxpayer and State Park pass holder. Katies was fine at it was. Access to the Wekiva, and a Port-0-Let. What more do you need?

Back to the beginning. Of my paddle, not time. A large group was at Wilson's Landing, my launch site since the demise of Katies. Great, the bank will be packed. It was, but with empty yaks, as two folks stood guard as the rest shuttled cars to Highbanks Marina on the St Johns. I was off at 9:30. The last time I launched from Wilson's, the wide section of River in the vicinity was covered with algae. Not so today. The rain has cleared the Wekiva. That's my guess.

My float plan was to go up River to check out Katies, then come back, upstream beyond Wilson's for an hour or so, then downstream back to Wilson. After Saturday's Silver/Ocklawaha adventure, I needed to take it easy. My plan was tossed overboard as I saw how beautiful and full of life this section of the Wekiva is.

I found out how much I missed it.

Very few folks on the River. A father and son fishing. Three kayakers, coming upstream. They had launched from Highbanks Marina, on the St Johns. Used the yakdave upstream/downstream method, as I saw them again, on their return. I need to check out Highbanks, as what I did today, downstream, then up, with tired arms after 16 miles the day before, was a challenge. Made it Blackwater Creek, and a bit beyond.

Saw a large boat, 50 hph, decided it was time to turn back. An hour fifty minutes up River. Saw the group that had shuttled from Wilson's to Higbanks at noon. One other boat. One of the Wekiva Haven rentals. No longer a rental, the guy bought it when that launch site closed.

I took a break on the return, returning to Wilson's Landing at 1:45. 4 hours, fifteen minutes after I began. The return trip was made even more difficult by a south wind, Especially tough in the open section form Katies, past the 46 bridge, back to Wilson's. Fortunately, it did die down somewhat just as my paddle was ending.
I also posted a report on the Green Wave Forum.
http://www.clubkayak.com/greenwave/treports.asp?trip=374 If, like me, you wondered what the heck the orange billed ducks are, look at the comments section.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers

The bridge carries State Road 314 across the Ocklawha River, about 3 miles upstream from the Silver River. I paddled both today, Saturday, June 27, 2009. Got a very early start. 6:00 am.

I couldn't sleep, so when I woke at 3:45, I said, what the hell, may as well get going.

Put my five dollars in the honor box at Ray's Wayside, another car behind me. Father and sons, there to fish from the bank. Took awhile to get photos I can show here. Had to let the sun get over the trees.

Mama wood duck watching her brood, 7:30.

Silver River State Park is getting serious about "No Docking".

The gate has replaced a chain. A few years ago, I landed next to the overlook, put on the snorkel gear and headed down to the State Park launch. I think I snorkeled the Silver one other time. That's enough. The river has a lot of alligators.

This one just off the glass bottom boat dock at the Silver Springs theme park. I was there at 8, it does not open until 10. I did not have to dodge the tour boats. The Yak Dave Tour is better.

Nobody on the River until I was almost back to the State Park launch. Which is about half way.

I rarely see one baby duck following mom. That's nature; nasty, brutish and short.

Surely a gator munched on a wood duck or two.

Usually, I stop at the State Park launch for a break. Today, I decided to press on, take advantage of my early start and stay on the quiet River.

I saw one monkey.

On my left, between the State Park overlook and launch. I told folks coming upstream about it. But, when one boater,
who only slowed downed when he saw me (all of Silver River is Idle Speed, No Wake) asked if I saw any monkeys, I lied. I don't disclose vital information to criminals.

The afternoon storms arrived early. It was raining at 10:30, with distant thunder. Only for a brief time.

I stopped on the bank, had some cookies and half a sandwich. Passed the canal leading to the launch and kept going.

To the confluence with the Ocklawaha River. I made my way up the River. The Ock is usually good for gators, birds, and one time, a rhesus troop. This trip, few critters.

Anhingas, turtles, and great blue herons. The lack of wildlife is what kept me going, I wanted to get some photos. I began to hear traffic on the bridge.

I paddled beneath, on the banks nearby, two guys were fishing, the first people I had seen since anglers back at the Silver-Ock confluence. I turned around after a few minutes.

Bridge photos. If you have a tall ship, the Ock requires preplanning. The sign states, "To have bridge open call 3 hours in advance"

That will get the gears turning to swing the bridge.

My curiosity piqued, I did a web search to learn about the bridge. Built in 1928, this is the last Warren pony truss swing span in Florida. It is structurally deficient, and set to be replaced.

Shortly after I went under the bridge again, 2 jetskiers passed. They slowed down, which I appreciated. Other than the anglers, the only people on the Ocklawaha.

Wildlife highlight was a turkey flying across the Ock. If you have never seen a turkey fly, it is quite as sight. A round mound of feathers, lacking any aerodynamics. Yet, somehow, someway, in a comical fashion, it made it across.

Back to the Silver, I paddled past the canal again, upstream for a few minutes, hoping to add to the monkey count. Unsuccessful.

I returned to Ray's Wayside at 1:15. Nothing like completing 7 plus hours, about 16 miles on the water, early in the afternoon.

Plenty of time to head to Silver Glen Springs. Which was packed. So packed, the parking lot was full. so I left. Only to discover there is additional parking, which I had never seen. A park worker said it was so crowded because both Salt Springs and Juniper Springs are closed. I had forgot about Juniper being closed. Salt Springs has been under going renovations for over a year now. Staring the repairs at Juniper, while Salt Springs is still shut down is the height of idiocy. On top of that, local lakes are closed to swimming because summer heat leads to amoebas which can cause illness. They aren't an issue in cool springs.

Despite the masses, who stirred up the water so much I could not see the bottom of the spring from the surface, I got a few photos.

Not only were the grounds and swimiing area jammed, but dozens of boats were berthed just outside the spring. Not my scene. I did not do my usual Lake George Trial hike. Instead, I left, crossed Highway 19 to the empty parking area at the Yearling Trail trailhead. No noise but a scrub jay's call.

Saw other small birds, and a gopher tortise. I took an extended hike, on what I thought was "Jody's Trace" It seemed wider than I recalled, I thought perhaps it, like the trail from the parking area, had been used as a firebreak when a huge fire burned in the spring.
Season, not water.

Turned out I was not on the trail, but on "Line Road". But had I not been on the "road" I would not have seen the deer I saw when I sat on a log to get the sand out of my shoes. A flash of white tail. It ran across the path, then into the scrub, bounding, tail flashing. The trail I was on intersected with a wider path, a hard clay track. Now I know I was on Forest Road 10. When I stepped on the road, something big charged through the thicket on my right. I walked up the road a bit, then came back to retrace my steps. I thought the noise was to clumsy for a deer, which tend to bound gracefully. Also, I did not see a flash of tail. Bear, I thought. Confirmed by fresh looking prints.

But, deer prints also. So the mystery remains, but, I lean to bear.

Another scrub jay on the way out.

My Yearling Trail trek was nearly 90 minutes long. It was near 5 pm. I consdiered going back to Silver Glen, perhaps the crowds had thinned. But, I was beat, the car seat was comfy, so I made the trip home.