Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Kings Bay, Three Sister Springs

Whiskers, a round figure.  I say manatees resemble Santa Claus much more than they do mermaids.  I saw  lot of these aquatic jolly old elves Christmas Day, 2010. 

The parking lot at Hunter Springs Park in Crystal River was empty when I arrived  at 8:40.  In the water just before 9, headed to Three Sisters Springs.  I did not get a lot of bird photos today, which may be a good thing as with all the manatee pics it would take a week to tell the Tale.
The pelican was on a dock at the entrance of the canal/run that leads to Magnolia Springs, and beyond that, Three Sisters Springs.  A manatee train headed out as I paddled in. I wondered if any would be left at Three Sisters.  I should not have worried. There were plenty.  And not two many people.  One tour boat, advertising "Private Tour, 6 Persons", 2 private boats, and me.  I anchored outside the short run to Three Sisters, donned snorkel gear, and swam in.

 Coming into the Springs, I saw snorkelers on my right.  So, I swam to the left.

Past a view resting manatees, then to a trio who took an interest in me.

One was coming very close. I'd swim away, and it followed.  I took the above photo to show how close. My hand, near, not touching, the manatee's flipper.
These bluegills are under a manatee's fluke.

The friendliest manatee swam towards me again.  I floated as motionless as possible. Closer, closer, until it put its snout right on my facemask.  Gently, not jarring it at all.  It backed off, finding its fellows more cuddly.

 Worthy of a barrel roll.

I spent about twenty minutes with the trio before swimming out of Three Sisters, passing and following more manatees.

There were more manatees outside of Three Sisters than inside. Coming out of the short run, there are small springs on the right and left.  The one on the right has always been a sanctuary, no entry, November to March.  It is larger this year, and for the first time, the area around the small spring on the left is also roped off as a sanctuary.  No manatees were in the new sanctuary, in the old, they were stacked like presents under the tree.

No room at the inn, these manatees had to stay outside the ropes.
I paddled into Three Sisters.  I had not when I arrived, as people were walking in the Run. Why walk when you can swim and not stir up the bottom is something I don't understand.

I left the area, stopped briefly at Magnolia Springs, then headed into Kings Bay.  From the exposed shoreline, I saw it was low tide.  Maybe I could anchor the yak outside King's Spring, like I did Christmas, 2007.  I crossed a rough and windy Bay.  There was a spot where I could have got out, but it was so windy I was afraid of the anchor not holding.  I did get a useful bit of information. A volunteer at the Wildlife Refuge Pontoon said it is ok to tie to it.  Still have the depth problem, however.  As in to deep to stand.  So, I stayed in the yak, and headed back to Hunter's Spring Park.

To bad it got windy, as other than that, it was a beautiful day.

 I landed a little before noon.  The parking lot, which I left with the only car, now had a dozen and more coming in. I timed by day perfectly, before the crowd, and the wind.
As it was still somewhat early in the day, I went to the Crystal River Preserve State Park to check out the bike trail.  The website says " This is a trail for the experienced biker or hiker."  I looked for information about it last night, and all I found just copied the State Park website.  I found the trailhead, and as luck would have it, a volunteer was just coming off an adjacent trail trashbag in hand.  I thanked him, and asked him about trail conditions.  He said it was hard, with a few loose soil areas.  The main thing to watch for was logging was going on, with a marked detour.   I thanked him, got on the bike, thinking I'd ride about 2 miles, then turn back.  The loop is 9 miles according to the website and map at the trailhead.

Once I got going, I decided to do the entire trail.
Less the detour.

 I wondered about logging in a State Preserve.  The sign below explains.  A previous landowner over planted slash pine, crowding out other pines and letting "excessive litter accumulate"---Not trash, natural litter- leaves, branches, ect-fire starter.  Clearing the pines should restore a more natural environment.
I saw a couple of birds, including a red shouldered hawk.  The ride was 7 and 3/4 miles.  I have no idea why it is for "the experienced biker or hiker".  Maybe it is harder when wet.   Speaking of wet, I drove on the Park road to the Visitor Center.  Which is closed on weekends.  Isn't that when people visit?  Here's a view of the Crystal River.
And the best kayak launch I have ever seen.

Short, sandy slope, with s shelter if you return during a summer thunderstorm.  This is far down River from Kings Bay, but I did launch from just across the River, at Fort Island Trail Park, my first visit to Crystal River in 2005.
But, the best thing about the launch, is this memorial.


Beverly Hill said...

I was just at Three Sisters yesterday (Christmas Eve) on a snorkeling trip with the manatees. One of your pictures looks like it could be of Mr. Wrinkles that kept me company in the spring. I just finished posting my own adventure. Great minds think alike. :)

Dave said...

I found your story. If you think like me, after a few more times touching manatees, you will say to yourself, "Wait a minute, petting is for dogs, these are wild animals, I need to leave my hands off"

Dark Knight said...

What a great tale. I am so anxious to do the same one day but am having problems studying the tales and following the rount in a map. This week I will double the effort. Really want to do try King's Bay and Three Sisters.

Dave said...

Studying? Don't worry, there won't be a quiz. ;)
As far as the route, from either Hunter Spring Park or the launch at US 19, go left, past Pete's Pier, you will see a bridge. Go under it to Three Sisters.

Lori said...

Where is the best place to put in...we are going this weekend.

Dave said...

Hunters Creek Park. Unless you want to launch before 8. Then use the public ramp on US 19 between Charlie's Restaurant and Bird's Underwater Dive shop.