Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Silver River and more

Ahhhh, nothing like a good grooming. I kayaked the Silver River today, Sunday, February 28, 2010. After Saturday's bad weather, today was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. Still a bit cool, long pants and long sleeves, but no jacket. I arrived at Rays Wayside Park just after 9:30. As a huge group of kayakers prepared to launch. This sucks, I thought. But, it did not. The group was going to the Oklawaha River, not the Silver. And, they were doing a river clean up. Thank you, Marion County Aquaholics.

I was on my way shortly before 10.

As you can see, the sun brought out the gators.

I was past the Silver River State Park landing when a flash of tan and white caught my eye. First thought, deer. Paddled over to the right bank for a closer look. Monkeys, 4 or 5.

I shared the River, so far, with one jon boat

I was in the waters past the "No Swimming Beyond This Point" sign when I saw 2 paddlers ahead. One in a canoe from Silver River State Park, so they must have launched there.

A third paddler, in a kayak saw me taking the photo of the alligator and turtle on the log and said "That'll be a good picture" "Not as good as the one with an alligator following you" The guy had a mask and snorkel on, and a float on his paddle. May have been doing roll practice. There was not an alligator following him. There were more monkeys in the red maples.

I arrived at the main spring just after noon.

Passengers on the glass bottom boats had a good view of an alligator next to the docks.
Good, but not as good as my view.

This is why anglers need to properly dispose their fishing line.
Fishing is not allowed on the Silver River, so maybe this cormorant flew from the Ocklawha River before getting entangled. I say' "maybe" as I have seen poachers on the Silver River, including a guy later this trip who pulled his rod back when he saw me. Maybe he should be thrown in the stockade.
This is a replica of Fort King, the Seminole War post that was the genesis of the city of Ocala. I had never noticed it before. High water level for winter, and the thinned forest due to the cold allowed the view.

I did not see the second group of monkeys, maybe because I was on the other side of the River and crossed over to look to far down stream. No shortage of other wildlife.

Boaters, power and paddle, began coming up River. To my delight, the former complied with the Idle Speed, No Wake Restriction.

A large group of paddlers came up River, and more motor boats. Criminals, making wakes. Another paddler asked if I was with the Wilderness Trekkers, must have been the group. He said he was with the Mosquito Lagoon Kayakers, not to be confused with the Mosquito Lagoon Paddlers. I told him, when it comes to joining groups, I'm a Marxist. I'd never join one that would have me as a member. He and other kayakers were watching the first family of monkeys I saw. Having seen them already, alone, I moved on.


I thought of stoping at the State Park launch, but it was occcupied. The next good spot has no treaspassing signs, the next, people across the River. Finaly, I found a spot where I could stand, pee, and get some cookies and an apple out of the cooler. The apple wasn't finished when I encountered the largest monkey troop of the day.

On both sides of the River.

Some of my best monkey photos. Lots of alligators and a wide variety of birds this Sunday on the Silver.

Saw a pig just up River of the canal leading to Ray's Wayside. I don't recall when I landed, somewhere between 3:00 and 3:30. I was thinking I'd get home before 6. I drove home, came to Marion County Road 314, the way to Salt Springs, which has recently reopened. Considered going, but thought, no, I have to work tomorrow, it will be a long day. Came to 314A, which connects to 314, and said bleep it, I'm in the area, I need to visit the renovated Salt Spring.

The entry fee has gone from 4.25 to 5.50.

A woman who had just gotten out of the spring, laying her wet suit out on the new concrete walk, told me 5 manatees were just beyond the swim area. I swam to the boudary rope line, going under it once, but did not see them.

The area was closed from April 2008 to December 2009. The following is from the US Forest Service Website:
Improvements to Salt Springs include reconstructing deteriorating safety railings and hollow areas under existing sidewalks and steps, replacing the sidewalk leading from the parking area to the day use area, and replacing landscaping.

During the large-scale project to repair the wall around the swimming area, a submerged archeological site dating back to thousands of years was also discovered. Archaeologists found large quantities of organic material including rarely preserved botanicals such as seeds of trees, marsh plants and gourds.

If my meomory is correct, there was a lot more vegetation in the Springs. The result of no human activity for almost two years.

Here are pics of the new area around the Springs.

The walls and steps used to be wood. The new steps replace the old entry, which required a several foot drop in and out of the water. I was to exit the springs at a level sandy area down the run a bit. The wall now blocks that. I thought that was a good idea, as peopled going in and out along the sand lowers visibiliy in th spring. A Park worker came by and we chatted about the "improvements". He was not happy with them. Pointing out with the beach gone there is no accesss for people in wheel chairs, or a shallow area for kids. I say look for Salt Springs to close again to comport with the American With Disabilities Act. Unbelievable it was not made accseeable. The flower beds, he said were put in instead of railings. "And we will be expected to keep the kids out" " Bet you can't wait for Menorial Day Weekend" "Yeah......."

I enjoyed my hour at the Salt Springs Recreation Area. Only 6 other people, 3 workers, the othe rswimmer, who was leavig as I was coming, and two other people. I stopped, just down Highway 19, at the Salt Springs Trail. A two mile round trip to Salt Run.

I finaly headed for home at 6:20. A fine day kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking. Saw a lot, and 3 days later, the Tale is complete. A good thing, as I'm headed to Rock Springs Run for a quick paddle before work tommorrow, March 3. I'll end this with 2 brief monkey videos. How Davy Jones got in the yak, I have no idea.