Fifteen minutes later, I began the upstream paddle on Rock Springs Run.
I wasn't very far up the Run, maybe to the sandbar popular with weekend renters, when I heard an engine. An air boat engine. What the F? Motors aren't allowed here. I paddled on, the drone of the air boat continuing behind me. I hoped it would turn back, but it persisted. Pausing at a shallow area, I could see it across the low lying vegetation. The operator was spraying the vegetation. Apparently a herbicide. How it affects the exotic plants, and not the native, and animals, like deer and bears that feed on the plants is beyond me. The herbicide must work fast. On Saturday, the edges of the Wekiva's shore were brown, today they were green. I assume it had a similar application to what I was witnessing on Rock Springs Run.
As the air boat was moving slowly, I continued my paddle. No sense letting it get ahead of me. I hoped it might turn back after spraying the open area. I entered the second tree canopied area heading upstream, the engine noise seemed to dissipate. But not for long. The noise got louder, the air boat was moving faster. Less non-native plants in this tree lined section of the Run. I pulled over, waiting for the air boat to pass.
It did, I waited for it to get out of sight, if not sound, and continued the paddle. To be fair, I see less wildlife in the heavily wooded section of the Rock Springs Run, probably because it is heavily wooded, than on the more open sections. Today, I saw nothing, as I continued to hear the airplane engine powering the air boat. I caught up to it just upstream of Indian Mound Camp, as the pilot had pulled over to refill his sprayer. I asked if he was going all the way up stream or would be turning back. He paused, spat a brown stream into the Run, and said, "Don't know if I'll make it all the way up" I did not inquire what would run out first, fuel, or herbicide, and once again, began paddling out front. It started up again. I passed Big Buck camp, and a canoer coming downstream asked, "What animal is making that noise?" I continued upstream, turning back at the large pine on the west, left bank. I passed the air boat as it continued upstream, the operator turned it off as I passed, a gesture well appreciated. Even at low speed the wind from an air boat propeller is strong. The canoe I had seen, now empty, was a Big Buck, I assume the occupant was camping there.
I saw one more boat on the Run, a couple in a rental from the State Park as I neared the Wekiva. Arriving at the confluence, I had time to go down the Wekiva for a short time. Saw 2 paddlers and three alligators, a ratio I like.
The Spring is a great way to cool down and beats a shower before heading to work. I'm not sure where these turkeys were headed as I left the Park.
Before I left, I stopped at the entrance station to renew my after hours pass and asks about the herbicide spraying. "Oh, they're doing it today?" I had assumed the Park was doing it. "No, the water management folks don't tell us when they are doing it" Oh, the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing? "Government work" You said it, I didn't.