Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Alexander Creek

I paddled Alexander Creek, in the Ocala National Forest, Sunday, February 20, 2011, doing something I have never done.  Drove to the Alexander Springs Recreation Area, paid the $5.50 entrance fee, and launched from outside the Spring, instead of launching from the County Road 445 bridge about a mile down stream.  I think I will stay with this method as I was given a tag to put on my kayak.  To ID me as a paying customer as opposed to those who land and try not to pay.  I always had the fee with me, so when asked, I'd pay. With the ID tags, I'd rather park at the Rec Area then on dirt at the bridge, a spot where I always hope no one is speeding around the corner as I renter the 55 mph road.
There is a 5 minute loading area at the spot where the rental canoes are stacked.  A worker asked if I needed a cart, I said no thank you, I had my own.  A short walk, 40 yards or so, on a concrete sidewalk, very gradual slope, past an Indian Mound to the launch area.  A wide, low, rubberized dock.  I was on the Creek just before 10 am.

Another lovely February day.

Alexander Creek usually produces an otter or two.  I followed one for awhile.  No good photos, but you may see one if you click on to expand the above scenic photo. The Creek is also a place where I often see bald eagles.  I was not disappointed, as one soared overhead.  Would it land on the eagle tree?  A large snag just up Creek from the bridge,  on the right. It did not take its customary perch.

 Just one canoer, coming back to the Spring.  Must have used the cart I saw at the launch.  At the bridge, 3 kayakers ahead of me.  Moving slooowly,  so I passed them.  And got some better otter pictures.

Turtles share a secret.

I'll share a secret.  When you see a red ribbon, take the channel on the right.  I went left, and  came to the obstacle above.

I headed down the Creek for two hours.  Farther down stream then I have been before.  I paddled this area once, coming up Creek from a takeout at the end of a couple miles of bumpy Forest Roads.  This wide open area looks like prime deer territory.  But, I still haven't seen a deer at Alexander Springs since my first visit, a non-paddling one in the early 1990's.  I've seen as many bears, one.   Plus another on the way home a few months ago.

A quartet of canoes headed down the Creek. Must have four wheel drive. Unless I miss my guess, and these paddlers, who looked older than your mid-century Tale Teller, planned to turn around and paddle up stream.  I took a break at the bridge, first paddling past it to check out the eagle tree. Empty.  I wanted to stop earlier, but there was no suitable place. Tried at on small cleared area at a water flow gauge, but a test of the bottom with my paddle had it sink in the muck. So,  I held it until the bridge.  Which is the point most renters from the Recreation Area turn around.  So, more traffic the rest of the way.  No motors, not allowed up stream of the bridge.

I landed at 1:55.

 Loaded the kayak, then  snorkeled the cavernous Spring.

As I've written before, the Spring is a fair distance, 20 yards or so from shore, so little kids playing in the shallow area near shore don't affect the clarity as they stir up the bottom.  (Nor do fat old men as their flippers hit the bottom a few times as I snorkel out).

A twenty minute snorkel, then a walk on the Timucuan Trail.

One of the most diverse 1.1 mile walks one can have. Hammock, Creek front, tiny spring runs, scrub.

Takes about half an hour.  Back to my car, I thought about driving to the bridge, which is in the other direction from my route home, to check out the eagle tree.  Nah, I see enough eagles.  But then, I overheard motor cyclists talking. About a fires.  "19 is closed"  I inquired a bit more- 19 at 552? Both directions?  "Yes"   That is my way home.  So, I headed the other way, towards State Highway 40.   Slowed down crossing the bridge, to see an eagle in the eagle tree.  About a half mile later, flashing lights.  The bikers don't know the roads, I turned around. 19 was clear.

A web search reveals on reports of the fire, but it does reveal a live bombing exercise was going on.  I could hear the jets, unseen.  Did not hear any explosions.  Preparing for unrest in the Mideast, or the Midwest?

1 comment:

Dark Knight said...

Waiting here...Was the eagle at the "eagle tree"?