Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wekiva River & Blackwater Creek

I had to work a couple hours today, Saturday, October 30, 2010.  Overtime, so, a little extra money in my pocket.  Done at 11, I thought, with the last day of daylight savings, I could get a decent paddle in even if I traveled a bit from home, to maybe, the Hillsborough or Chassahowitzka.  I decided to stay close to home and kayak the Wekiva River from Katies Landing to Blackwater Creek, up Blackwater a bit, and back.  Good decision.

I launched from Katies Landing in the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve at 10 past 12.  Just one car in the parking lot.  Another came in, canoe and kayak, as I prepared to launch.  Into the clear Wekiva.  Clear, because most of the flow is coming form springs, not rain and runoff.  It rained at my house Thursday night, first time this month.  The "official" total at the airport is 0.00 for October.  My boss lives near Katies Landing, and said  she had no rain Thursday.

Lots of great blue herons.       And alligators.

After leaving Katies, just 3 boats on the way down River to Blackwater Creek.  Two kayaks, and a motor boat, proceeding slowly.

The gators were lethargic, not moving off the bank.  So were the belted kingfishers, relatively speaking.  One stopped long enough that I got three pics. On three different perches. Here are the best two.

Temps felt like mid '80's partly cloudy, paddling into a decent breeze.  Hoped to have it at my back on the way back.

Arrived at Blackwater Creek, opening photo, at 1:40, 90 minutes after I began.

 Paddled past the high spot where I take Blackwater breaks.
But not to far.  Five minutes, and one huge alligator later, I faced the above situation.   Layed low, face up tried pulling myself under, yak began to tilt, pushed back, tried to get lower, tree knocked my hat off, went back to retrieve it, approached the tree again, decided the risk wasn't worth the reward and turned back.  Had I needed to go under, I could have, but I had already been out two hours, so it was a good time to turn back.   Stopped at the high spot for a break.
I got out of the yak a second time.  Passing a stream flowing into the Creek, I looked up it.  Never know what you may see.  Wait! is that a bear?  Reversed course, thought I saw one. Landed, and walked through the woods.  Still thought I saw it, but when I got closer, I saw  what I was looking at was just a dark log. Now I'm not sure if I saw a bear.  If I did, it immediately ran off after I first saw it and drifted past the stream.  It was about 70 yards away, and I was noisy back paddling, so I may not have heard it run away.  I'd say 50-50 I saw a bear.  Also alligators, ibis, limpkins, great blue heron, hawk and belted kingfishers.  No photos.  I had a very good view of not one, but two alligators swimming underwater in "Clearwater Creek"  As with the Wekiva, freshwater springs are supplying most of the flow these days.
Back on the Wekiva, paddling up River.

As I was taking turkey photos, I heard voices behind me.  So, I paddled quickly to stay ahead of them.  I'd rather be the one disturbing the wildlife.

The trailing paddlers were persistent, and chatty.  I pulled over and let them pass me, waiting for them to get out of sight.  I picked up the paddle, now a motor boat slowly coming up River.  Finally, peace and quiet.

And, what's this? A manatee under my kayak! Headed up River.  I turned around, drifted , the manatee checked me out.

For those of you familiar with the Wekiva, the manatee was a few minutes down River of the flat, grassy area where boaters land. The down river one, not the one just Wekiva Haven. Speaking of boats, saw another three, all slowed to pass me.

Don't know what this guy has on his lawn, but the turkeys and sand hill cranes seem to like it.  They were here the last time I was.

Saw two kayakers as I approached Katies Landing.  They were gone by the time I landed, after taking a detour, exploring the shallows on the west side of the River.

 Bird life, seen, but not photoed, includes, osprey, hawk, moorhen's, vultures, woodpeckers. 
I landed at 5:40, 5 and a half hours on the Wekiva River and Blackwater Creek.

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