Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Happy Independence Day from the 14th colony. That would be East Florida, which, along with the 15th colony, West Florida, did not join their northern bretheren in 1776. I pursued happiness by heading to Chassahowitzka, FL, the Chasahowitzka Campground launch, to kayak the Chassa howitzka River, its tributaries, and check out a few springs. Here is a new kayak launch.
Which I did not use, opting to put in next to the boat ramp which is now 2 lanes wide. The kayak "launch" is narrow, concrete, with steps. The black part was added after paddlers, rightfully, complained. If you want to read more about this ramp, see:

I paid the $3 parking fee and was on my way at 9:30. The parking lot was almost full, mostly trucks with trailers. I think most of the boaters headed out to the Gulf, as it was not very busy on the Chas. On a Sunday. On the 4th of July. One canoe was on the other side of the River from me as I paddled past a mama wood duck and her chicks, great blue heron, and anhinga.

Saw two otters, but did not get any photos. The opening photo is from the same spot, on the way back in. Stopped at the spring just up river of Baird Creek, to see what was there. Fish, no mammals, birds or reptiles. On to Baird Creek.
Up Baird, saw more otters, over Baird Blue Spring, up the even narrower spring run at the back of that spring to "The Crack" ,

I considered going in the water, but declined. I wanted to get back down the narrow run before others came up, and it was going to rain, so I wanted to get in as much paddle time as possible. I did get in the water to pull the kayak over a toppled palm and a set of stumps in the bottom just beyond it. The effort was worth it.

The crowd I thought might be coming did not materialize. Just one canoeing couple near the mouth of Baird Creek. I came out of the mouth back into the Chas. Paddled on the right side of a three island chain, out of the boat channel. Otters here too. For the third time I was unable to get a picture.
I paddled into the waters of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Hoped to see manatees, or dolphins, or bald eagles. Paddled to the mouth of Crawford Creek. A good eagle spot. None seen, none in the tall dead palms across the Chas. No aquatic mammals either. I wanted to paddle up Crawford Creek, but decided I did not want to be on the open water of the Chass when the storms came.

I could see two storms to the north, heard thunder to the south, felt a few drops. Time to paddle back.

Concerned about the impending storm, I paddled up River on the boat channel side of the islands. There were few boats, so it wasn't a problem. I was lucky, no storm came while I was on the water. So, I paused at Houseboat/Snapper Spring. I was about to leave when two manatees surfaced.

I watched them as rain fell on the edge of the spring, but not in it. No thunder. This was too good. I found a place to land, not easy as the entire shore is muck, I sank to my kneecap the first time I stepped out, and snorkeled into the spring.

I think the orange tint is the bottom kicked up by the manatees and I. Here's a clear photo
Back in the yak, into the Chass, where I was able to photograph a group of feasting otters.

Not sure if they think they are beaver or the wood is their 4th corn on the cob.

An otter video.

I landed just past 2. In a wet parking lot. The rain that fell on the edge of the spring with the manatees.

I had the road bike, not the mountain bike in the car. There are four paved bike trails, Suncoast, Withlacoochee, Van Fleet, and West Orange, between Chassahowitzka and home. I like Van Fleet, its the most remote, passing through a Wildlife Management Area. In other words, check the hunting season. I pedaled miles. Here's the turn around point, looking both ways, and a nearby shelter.

I find it interesting that the power line follows the county line. Solves the nimby issue.

Saw the same bird I saw a week or so ago while biking in the Seminole State Forest. No pics as on two occasions they ran into the brush. Quail, maybe. Also saw an ibis and a hawk. An an alligator.

This must be a prescribed burn. On one side of the trail, the Richloam Wildlife Management Area, charred pines, open space, new growth. Deer habitat. The other side, thick brush, lots of fuel.

Another fine day outdoors in Florida. Hopefully tommorrow will provide another, dry, adventure. If wondering about "dry" see Saturday's Tale on Blackwater Creek and the Wekiva River.

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