Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hillsborough River

I kayaked the Hillsborough River today, Saturday August 21, 2010. Launched from Trout Creek Park at 7:10 am. Paddled up River, past Morris Bridge Park, past John Sargeant Park until a down tree, one that's been there for years, blocked my way. Back down River, stopping at Sargeant Park for lunch, then back to Trout Creek Park, paddling up Trout Creek as far as I could go, back to Trout Creek Park, landing at 5:10 pm. Ten hours, and I saw just three alligators. A shockingly low number for a summer day on the Hillsborough. No rosette spoonbills, no deer. On the other hand, I saw 4 barred owls, getting photos of two. I don't think I've ever had more than one barred owl photo before. The above owl was seen in the section up stream of Sargeant Park.

As I arrived at Trout Creek Park, I was listening to the Saturday morning bluegrass show on WMNF, community radio. Dueling Banjos. If that won't get you ready for a day on the water, nothing will. And the DJ said he is a paddler.

The first pic of the day was a barred owl.

A good start, bird wise. The black crowned night heron, immediately above, was one of several flying about. This one had the courtesy to land so I could get a so-so photo.

It was good to hear the eeire call, and see, limpkins. I haven't been seeing them lately on Rock Springs Run. I saw no one on the River until I was past Morris Bridge. Nothing like an early start.

Paddlers did start coming down the River, but only 10-12. Perhaps folks don't want to be outdoors when the forecast is high in the mid 90's with a 50% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. The Florida forecast from June through September.

The only gator pic, and a poor one, above. Taken near Sargeant Park, which is at the confluence of the Hillsborogh and Flint Rivers. Upstream of this point, the Hillsborough is not kept clear of downed trees. I should say of big trees, cut marks are evident, but as mentioned at the start of the Tale, I stopped at a tree that has blocked me for as long as I've been paddling the Hillsborough River.

Two more views of the barred owl "barred" refers to the markings, and my turn back log.

As mentioned earlier, I stopped at Sargeant Park for lunch. A few people were on the newly renovated boardwalk/fishing pier. I sat at a picnic shelter. No one in the picnic area. Kept an eye out for the Canoe Escape bus, bringing paddlers. None arrived. I was on my way at 12:20 pm.

A Canoe Escape bus must have dropped off paddlers as I was paddling the section of River upstream of Sargeant Park. I passed 6 or so paddlers on the way down the Hillsborough. Once past Morris Bridge, I again had the River to myself.

The forecast T-storms came. Fortuntely for me, the thunder was far off. It did rain, steady, but not hard most of the way from Morris Bridge to Trout Creek. At least it kept the heat down.

Back at Trout Creek Park at 3:30, I decided to paddle up Trout Creek.

After 45 minutes, I was stymied by the above log. I wanted to find a bridge I had biked across my last visit. It can't be to far upstream from the blockage.

I've paddled up Trout Creek before, but never as far as I did today. Despite seeing only a single songbird, it beautiful. I have seen large alligators on the Creek. Not today. Found a bridge, not the one I was looking for.

Trout Creek seems to be a local, Tampa area secret. I recall reading a description of it 6 years ago, when I first began my extensive kayak adventures. The writer reported it was impassable, water level to low. Today, I saw evidence of work to keep it clear, freshly sawed branches. I don't think this is done by the Canoe Escape folks, I bet its just local paddlers. If you happen to read this, thanks.

I was beat when I landed, 10 hours after I began. I almost went home. But, I bought the trail bike for places like this. Trout Creek, part of Wilderness Park, has an extensive trail system. I went for a short ride. 4 miles. The bridge over Trout Creek is 1.5 miles from the parking lot. View of Trout Creek from the trail bridge.

Trail scenes

1 comment:

Dark Knight said...

Another great trip. Have to put the Hillsborough in my To Go list.