Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ichetucknee and more

Or, Spring into Fall' as I great you from near the Santa Fe River, in North Florida's Springs Country. My accommodations.

Not bad for 65 bucks a night. $10 more for each extra person Two bed, two bath.  Note to Tom G.  Not available the weekend of November 12.  This weekend, I'm taking a three day respite from the rat race, beginning today, Saturday, October 23, 2010.   Paddled the Ichetucknee River for the first time since April.  Memorial Day through Labor Day the Ich is the domain of tubers.  This time of year, tubing is banned on the upper part of the River, and on the lower, floaters must walk 5, or 15 minutes, depending on the put-in back to where they began. In the summer, a tram provides transport.  On the way down River, I encountered 3 tubing groups, about 15 folks in all.

I paddled up Rive first, from the "Last Take Out" on US 27 just east of the bridge crossing the Ich.  I was excited as I began, having seen a bald eagle on the side of the highway, on the shoulder, not in a tree, or flying high overhead, and a deer crossed the highway in front of me.    Not to closely, thank goodness.  With that wildlife on Highway, what would the Ich reveal?

Not to much.

 This may have been the least productive day for critters I've ever had on the Ich. First wildlife pics are wood ducks.

At least I was able to photo a belted kingfisher.  In addition to what you see, I saw a great blue heron, osprey, pileated woodpeckers.  No wood storks, last fall I saw a lot. No limpkins.  No beaver, otter, or deer.  Thought I saw a deer.

Brown coat, browsing in the woods up River of Blue Hole Spring.  I took the picture.  Then the hound dog raised its head. What is a dog doing running loose?  Besides the dog, I encountered about 8-10 other non-native species.  Paddlers coming down the Ichetucknee.

I began paddling around 8:45,  arrived at the first dock about 10:25.   Waited for a kayaking couple to start their day.  Only one vessel can launch or land at a time.  Dock, not a beach.

Looking at my April visit, I failed to post this iconic Ichetucknee Springs view.
The view in the Spring.

A couple was at Ichetucknee Spring when I arrived.  They left, so I had it to myself.  When I got out, they came back and got in, after steeling themselves for the cold.  Cold?  As someone who grew up swimming in Lake Michigan, 72 degrees is never "cold".

I moved on to Blue Hole Spring.   A half mile walk. I've seen deer in the woods.  No deer today, just the same hound dog, now swimming  in the River. Later, I heard it howling.

Blue Hole Spring from above.
And below. Saw nobody. Not even on the trail.

This sign is not about my kayak.

Snorkeling done, I was ready to get back in the yak.  But, the launch dock was not ready for me.  Four people carried two canoes down the steps. Ok, I can wait.  Then three kayakers. I'll eat my sandwich here, aren't supposed to have food on the Ichetucknee.   Update, just looked at the State Park website. "Canoeists and kayakers in Ichetucknee Springs State Park are permitted to take food and drink on the river in non-disposable containers only."  This is new. Just a few weeks ago paddlers were allowed to have water on the Ich after someone pointed out the risk of  exertion in the Florida sun without water.   I always had water on the Ich.  Wonder if reusing a bread bag for my sandwich qualifies as "non-disposable"

Then paddlers coming up the Ich. Two, four, five, six.. "how many are in your armada? "Eight".   They landed one by one. The first two pulled their yaks up on the dock, next to mine which at the very edge of the dock , out of peoples way.  Will they put all the kayaks on the small dock?  No.  The leader had a tie line and the next five landed, then left their yaks in the water.  The last guy was going to put his boat on the dock.  I had to object.  "It will be hard enough getting my kayak over two, can you leave it in the water?"  They did.   It was 12:15 when I was on my way.

This is the run from one of the 8 springs that feed the Ich.

Turtles were out in the afternoon. The ones with the large markings are suwannee cooters.

The porous limestone which underlies most of Florida comes to, and above the surface.  Water from the aquifer finds a hole, and voila', springs.

These yellow flowers were carpeting cleared areas, like a power line easement.  I landed about 1:45. Still more Tales to tell, I visited three more springs. I had loaded the GPS with the locations for three springs, two that I have not visited.  I thought I'd go to Troy Spring, one I have been to a couple times.  Turns out I had not put it in the GPS.  Decided to go to Peacock Springs State Park, instead.   On the way, I saw a sign for Little River Springs, so I made a slight detour.

Little River Springs, is a Suwanne County Park, on the east bank of the Suwanne River.   The short run to the Suwanee is the "Little River" I'd been here one time before, its a lovely, shallow spring.  With a cave system for the trained scuba diver


Next stop, Peacock Springs State Park.  There sure are a lot of dirt roads in Suwanne County.  The GPS guided me to a road that did not go all the way through.  It dead ended.  Sevveral twists and turns, I arrived at Peacock Springs.  Peacock Springs is new in the State Park System, added in 1993.   I expect dirt roads in a new, rural, State Park.

Being my first visit, I parked and walked around.  Asked a scuba diver where he was coming from. "Orange Sink"  I then saw the sign.  Steps down to the sink.  Algae all around, but a broad, clear hole in the middle.  I made a note to come back, after locating Peacock Spring.  The sink and spring are linked by a cave system. Here is Peacock from a wood platform above the Spring.

Steps lead to the water.   I sat at the bottom of the steps, wondering how I'd get out of the water. It's an immediate, deep, drop.  Scuba divers on both sides told me there were steps on the side. More like a ladder.  They also told me a lot of fish were in the weeds.

The divers were correct.

Here's a better view from above the Spring.
I headed to Orange Sink   Which now was completely covered with a thin layer of green.  The activity of the scuba divers must have cleared it when I first saw it.   I did not enter.

I left Peacock Springs, this time the GPS kept me on the main roads.  Crossed the Suwanee on a beautiful
suspension bridge on State Highway 51. Should have taken a pic. Here's one from Wikipedia.Hal Adams Bridge

On US 27, I saw the sign for Troy Springs State Park.  I followed the signs.

I should have followed my instinct, which told me it was time to change the battery pack.  I did not, and the camera told me when I was underwater.  There were a lot of turtles in the run leading to the Suwanee.  I was able to coax a final pic, the above turtle scurrying over the timbers of the Madison, the scuttled Confederate steamer.

And that ends day one of my " Spring into Fall" 3 day weekend.


Dark Knight said...

Thanks for sharing. The Ichetuknee is in the top on my "Wish To Paddle list". Great pics!!!!!

Danny said...

That pic of the hound dog looks like a panther. Glad you had an awesome weekend on the water and trails.