Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gum Slough

Unlike last weekend, when it was overcast, rainy with highs in the mid eighties, cool for July in Florida, this weekend calls for sunny skies and hot temps. It is now 5 pm, on Saturday, July 10, 2010. 92 in Winter Park, 94 in Inverness. I passed through the Citrus County seat on my way to and from the Withlacooche River to paddle Gum Slough. I picked this location because I wanted to paddle, and swim, in an uncrowded, spring fed waterway. As I saw just one boat on the Slough, I made the right choice.

This was my second visit to Gum Slough, the first was in March. I woke up at 4 am, and thought I might as well get on my way. Avoid the afternoon heat, and see the morning wildlife. I put in from the public ramp at the end of Turner Camp Road at 6:30. A half mile or so down the Withlacoochee River to the entrance of Gum Slough. I'm not sure how to pronounce it, but a guy waiting for his buddy at the ramp asked if I was going up the "Slew", so I'll go with that. Seven springs fed Gum Slough, making it very clear as it flows past cypress swamps, oak hammocks, and open areas with low lying vegetation. I saw a flock of ibis flying over the Withlacooche, very few bids, a few anhingas, on the way up Gum Slough. The highlight, two deer crossing the Slough. I could not tell what the lead one was at first. I noticed something far up stream. Otter? duck? I saw it was brown. Are there beavers here? Then the swimming deers head rose out of the water as it got to shallow water. The second, larger, deer splashed across behind the first. To far and to fast for a photo.
It took about 2.5 hours to paddle the Slough's six miles. There are two spring pools at start of the Slough. One has 3 homes nearby, the other just trees. I anchored near the banks of the second pool, did not land so wasn't trespassing and got in.

The force of the upwelling water causes shells to be tossed like confetti

I think I was in Alligator Spring. I did not see any.

Alligator Spring from above. Down the spring run.
I paddled to the area with the homes. No one seemed to be in, or else were very quite. Should I sneak a snorkel? I did not.
I left the headwaters area at 9:30.

Limestone, sign of another spring.

Finally saw some birds. Blue and green heron. Unable to photo the green.

There is one home on the banks of the Slough. On my March visit, I only saw it on the way up Slough, getting off the main channel on the way downstream. Saw it both times today.

Today, I did not get on a wrong channel until I was downstream of the home.

I continued down the wrong channel, after I realized it was not the main one, hoping it would rejoin the main branch. After 5-10 minutes I came to a barrier I could not get over, so I turned around.

I saw one boat on the Slough, a couple in an aluminum jon boat. I was surprised to see them, thinking this would stop any boats larger than a kayak.
They must have gunned it, lifting the motor to not hit the log that I pushed over. Just before I saw the boat, I heard something even worse. The ear shattering racket of airboats. Not on the Slough, on the Withlacoochee. Why are those noise polluting monstrosities legal? If you see bridge posts like those above, you are not paddling through an old growth forest. They are pilings for roads that took the trees out of the area.

The Wihtlaccchee River I landed at 12:30. Got the kayak on the car and headed to the nearby Potts Preserve to check out biking opportunities. Also to see if I could launch the yak there, avoiding airboats on the Withlacochee.
This was my second visit to the Preserve. I entered from the Withlacooche in March to check out the riverfront campsites. Which are free, with a permit. Which, I assume, gives you the combination to the locked gate. One camp site was occupied. I think I'll wait until fall.

I did not ride across the water on the board, turning around to find a better alternative.

My second attempt also came to an end. In tall grass. Third time was a charm, riding in grass matted down by tires. Ranger vehicle, I assume. Hunting accident?

Shady campsite.

River front campsite view.
The road from the day use parking area to the camping area is crushed stones. Crushed by the cars driving over, some sections have big, fresh, rocks. Wonder if they might puncture a tire. The bike had no problem.

All I had seen to this point was a cardnial and a vulture. The sign in sheet, which had 5 entries since July 4, mention deer sightings. None for me in the early afternoon. But, I biked to look at a picnic shelter, and there was a flock of ten wild turkeys.

Last River view. A short, strenous ride. 5.14 miles. Took a lot to plow through the tall grass. Tommorrow, I'm back to the Seminole Forest and Blackwater Creek. Thinking of biking first, then kayaking.

No comments: