Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Orlando Wetlands Park

If your are expecting the usual mid-week kayaking Tale, wait until tomorrow. The yak is on the roof for a after work paddle. I failed to schedule a late day at work this week, so no morning paddle. Today, Wednesday, June 30, 2010, after work, I took the bike to Orlando Wetlands Park.

It took an hour to get to the Park in rush hour traffic, but the drive was worth it

I shared the berms around the man-made wet land with 2 joggers and a deer. The deer, off the berm, ran off before I could get a photo.

The weather wasn't to bad at 7 pm. Of course, my shirt was soaked with sweat after a 7 mile ride.

I saw green herons, blue herons, black crowned night herons, great blue herons, great egrets, cattle egrets, moorhens, anhingas, red shouldered hawks, ibis, black bellied whistling ducks, vultures, and an alligator. I did not see the crested caracara until the very end. I had been looking in the wrong place. A park worker told me where to to look.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bulow Creek

A new location for Dave's Yak Tales. Bulow Creek. Bulow Creek is a short, tidal creek, that begins in Flagler County, just north of Ormond Beach in Volusia County. It empties into the Halifax River. Here is a link to the Dept of Greenways and Trails about Bulow Creek. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/designated_paddle/Bulow_guide.pdf
I had paddled Bulow Creek once before, launching at High Bridge Road. It was sent an uneventful paddle I did not even send a report to friends and family. Something I did 99.5% of the time when kayaking a new place pre Dave's Yak Takes.

The first time I saw Bulow Creek was November 1994, as I ran in the Paul Debruyn 30K Run. The race course, on back roads along tidal marshland and beneath canopies of live oaks was my introduction to the "Ormond Loop" a scenic drive/bike/run route. I ran the race several times, and biked the Loop many more. I have not biked the Loop since November 2005. I found the report that I sent to friends and family. I biked 31 miles after a 4 hour paddle at Tomoka State Park. Those were the days before I got fat and lazy.
Today, I launched at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park. A park I had visited before, to see the ruins of what was the largest sugar mill in Florida.

The plantation was abandoned, then sacked by the Seminoles in 1836, during the Second Seminole War. Impressive ruins can be seen today. Also impressive is the drive into the Park. A mile long, shaded, narrow dirt road.
I launched about 9:15. Paddled up Creek at first.

There is a narrow, concrete ramp, with a dirt area on the right. Just up Creek of today's ramp are the remnants of John Bulow's boat slips, which according to the sign "were reinforced with ale and wine bottles which were discarded from house parties"
Bulow Creek is wide, slow current, and like most coastal water ways, flows through a salt marsh. That means low grasses, no shade. There are a few hammocks of oak and palm, but they are to small and far away to provide shade. That may explain why just one other boat was on the Creek this hot June morning.

There are a few homes on the Creek, long walkways across the marsh are required for water access. The docks make good places to see birds that may otherwise be hidden in the grass.

After 45 minutes paddling time, I saw high ground. Shell mound? No, I saw a canal, the high ground had to be the fill when the canal was dug. I heard running water. Had to check it out.

The water was cool and clear. Much more than the Creek. Spring water? During that 31 mile bike ride in '05, I stopped at Bulow Creek State Park and took a photo of a "seepage spring". A low volume spring, no more than a trickle. The cool water in what I now know is "Cisco Ditch" must originate from that, and perhaps other small springs.
Back into Bulow Creek, where I turned back after paddling for an hour, at 10:15
Just after I turned, something happened to me that has not happened before. I have never had anything jump into the kayak before today. Too bad I wasn't fishing. The shrimp did jump into the kayak. I put it on top for artistic purposes before tossing it back.

One of the few shady areas.

I saw many green herons.

Osprey, too. Or two.

I also saw anhingas, a great blue heron, a tricolored heron, and an alligator.

I returned to the launch at 11, and kept paddling.

I paddled for about 30 minutes. There are man made canals, with manufactured homes just down Creek of the launch. Must be some of the most affordable water front property around. I turned around, and stopped to stretch my legs, here.
I thought of going to Bulow Creek State Park, but it was too hot. I returned to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park just before noon. Not even noon, and I was to hot. I think I will return here in the fall, and do a car/bike shuttle on the Ormond Loop. Speaking of biking, there is a 6.8 mile trail that links the two Parks. Bikes are allowed, so I checked it out for a couple miles.

The trail starts out wide and easy.
I'll go 3 miles and turn. Or find where the loop portion of the trail is. The easy portion was soon over.

. Narrow, twisty, roots, bridges over wet areas.

I turned around after less than a mile and a half. Question for male trail bikers. Do you were a cup? I think it may be a required piece of equipment, at least for this beginner. The upper frame bar almost came into play a couple times as I had to stop and put my feet down.
It began to rain as I made my way back, but the forest is so thick I did not feel it. I got soaked as I checked out the sugar mill ruins.

I waited out the balance of the typical summer storm, brief, but intense, at the interpretive center. Artifacts and descriptions in a room, viewed from the outside, under a canopy. Back to the car, 3.89 miles on the bike. As I drove into the Park in the morning, I thought, this must be a good place to see deer. On the way out, I saw one.
Actually 3.
Mama deer went back across the road, to where her two fawns were, and all three went into the woods before I could get a family photo.

I also have a report of this trip on the Green Wave Forum. http://www.clubkayak.com/greenwave/treports.asp?trip=556