Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year from Chassahowitzka.  Town, campground, river and National Wildlife Refuge.  I did not get a holiday from work. Which is total crap, but that's a story for another time and place.  For this New Year's Tale, I wanted to go someplace where I'd see a lot of wildlife and not miss to much of the Rose Bowl.  If you are thinking, "Dave, why not Rock Springs Run, where you opened the last 3 years?"    I'll go there Sunday.  And get home in time for the Packer game. Today, I returned early in the 2nd quarter.

The first part of my plan, seeing a lot of wildlife, began as soon as I launched from the Chassawhowitzka Campground at 9:15.

A manatee just off the launch.  It did not really need the warm water from the spring just upstream from the put in as it was a warm morning.  T-shirt and swim shirt for me.  First time in a while I've worn my standard Florida kayaking attire.

The warm conditions had a pair of great blue herons thinking it is spring as they performed a mating dance.  At least that's what I think the strutting, head held high, wings out, ritual was.
Two manatees in Houseboat Spring.
Mother and calf, resting on the bottom. Surfacing occasionally to breathe.  I left them alone, and continue down the Chas.

As usual, I took the shallow route, to the right, north of a three island chain.

Back into the main channel, past the few houses on the Chasahowitzka River, into the Chasahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.

Kayaked to Crawford Creek.  And up Crawford, out of the Refuge, out of Citrus County, into Hernando County.  I may have left the Refuge, but it was still wild.

I wanted to paddle to the spring that is the source of Crawford Creek.  I've never made it.  A few years ago, I made it as far as a home near the spring.  A yapping dog and swift current had me turn back.  My last two times, a downed tree blocked passage.  But, I recently saw photos of the spring. Beautiful.  I had to try again.  Today, the tree had been cut away. No yapping dog, although I am told it is still there.  But, I did not make it.  Too shallow.  A rocky bottom.  I pushed and poled, getting lodged on one set of rocks, freeing myself, moving forward a few feet, getting stuck again.  I gave up when the kayak was perpendicular to the Creek.  I got out, turned the yak straight, pointed down Creek, and was on my way. 

Saw a very impressive buck just after I began heading down the Creek. The gator is the same one from the way up Creek

Belted kingfisher

Distant bald eagle. I got much closer, but it took flight as I was aiming the camera.
Back to the Chas.

Fortunately the wind was, mostly, at my back.  Also an incoming tide.  A nice feature of the Chas is, if it is windy, there are many sheltered side creeks to explore.

These pics were on the way to one of those side creeks, Potter Creek.

No pics from Potter Creek, which was crowded.  A slow moving group of 8 or so kayakers.  I passed them, wanting to get to the end of Potter Creek, so I could paddle up the lovely Ruth Spring.

The short run to Ruth Spring is narrow and twisting, no room for multiple boats.
Back to the Chasahowitzka.

I explored another tributary, Salt Creek. Salt Creek has several channels, but I think I found one of the three springs that are the source of Salt Creek.

Return to the Chas.

Stopped at Houseboat Spring to see if the manatees were there.  If they were, they did not surface, or were right under a fishing boat. 

The, or a, manatee was still near the launch area.  I landed at 3:40.  Almost 6.5 hours, manatees, a buck, bald eagle, alligators. And a fishing net, picked up out of the River.  2011 is off to a good start. 

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