Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blackwater Creek, Wekiva River and a little of the St. Johns

A fellow kayaker let me know that Blackwater Creek was clear from the bridge in the Seminole State Forest to the Wekiva River.  As that same person had posted a photo of downed trees blocking the Creek a couple weeks ago, I, like the alligator in the photo above, jumped at the opportunity.  Thank you Joanne.

After a stop at Publix for mosquito spray,  I arrived at the Seminole State Forest.   Where I had to wait for a car in front of me. First time that has ever happened.   Amazing how long it takes some people to put 2 bucks in an envelope.  The people in front of me unlocked the gate, I told them I'd lock it.  Then another car, waving at me to leave it open.  I was the only one with a boat on the roof.   Drove the 2.5 miles to the bridge, passing the first car, pulled over.  What's that thing hanging from the windshield?   Oh yeah, the tag on the pay envelope.  I forgot to tear mine off, discombobulated waiting for the guy in front of me.    By the way, its faster to get out of your car to get the envelope.  That way, you can pull  out one, not a stack to leave on top of the pay station for the wind to blow away.  Hopefully, on the rare chance a Forest official saw my car without the tag, he'd see my permit and believe my story.

On my way at 8:05.

I saw belted king fishers, anhingas, wood ducks, and pileated woodpeckers.  Heard numerous songbirds and turkeys gobbling in the forest.  Unable to get any photos.  Had to settle for a vulture.
Good think the Creek itself is photogenic.

Turkeys were making a lot of racket. Guess that's why there is a weekend spring turkey hunt in two weeks.  Finally, I saw, as well as heard one of the gobblers.

Saw some shy gators, sinking below the surface on my approach.

Got to the high spot where I, and bears, take breaks,at 9:50.  I stopped.  The pile of bear poop that had been there since Christmas, and was still there a few weeks ago,  is gone.  The rear compartment of the kayak had water in it.   I'm confused.  It had water in it last weekend. Slow leak, I thought.  But Wednesday, on Lake Maitland and Minnehaha,  no water.  I think I do have a leak, but when paddling steadily, water doesn't come in as quickly as it does when I am drifting with the current.
After a short break, I was back in the kayak. Saw an otter, again, no photo. Finally, near the Wekiva, a couple birds. The black crowned night heron has to have a nest nearby. I see it every time I'm here.

10:41 am, approaching the Wekiva River.
More visible wildlife on the wider Wekiva.

It is nesting season for great blue herons. 

On this route, I've seen alligators, otters, bald eagles, deer, bear, and manatees. Alligators and an otter so far today. No manatees. The usual fishing boats on the Wekiva, not to many, and not to fast. I entered the St Johns, home to fast boats. And, today, a bald eagle.

I was able to get a closer look.

Its the second  time I've seen a bald eagle on this tree.  Just a short paddle down the St. Johns from the mouth of the Wekiva.  Fast boats and their wakes had me turn back.  Seems to be like most are going faster then the 25 mph speed limit.  And only one stopped to look at the eagle.  I just shook my head and sang the first verse of Feeling Groovy
I know, the title is the 59th Street Bridge Song, but I like Feeling Groovy better.

There were two herons in the nest.  The second landed with sticks in its beak, stayed awhile, then left.
Looking for nesting material.
Pulling small shoots from a branch.

12:43 pm, back to Blackwater Creek.
No pics for 50 minutes, until I was at my break stop.

 Yak upside down to drain.
Nice views, don't you think? Sandwich done, it was back to paddling up the Creek.

The alligators weren't all nervous in the afternoon as they soaked up the sun.

Two new features at the launch site.  A second picnic table, dedicated to a Florida Trail volunteer, and a grill. As I sat in my car, changing shoes, I saw the only person I saw on the Creek all day.  Kayaking down the Creek.  Wonder if he was camping at Mosquito Spring.  The  Caddy at the launch did not seem like a yak transport, but, I could be wrong.
On the bike.

Gopher tortoise

 Pygmy rattlle snake
Sharks Tooth Spring.

My last visit to the Forest, I posted a video of the spring.  It did not capture the sound of the bubbling brook.  I filmed it again today.  Had the light bulb go off.  Take the camera out of the watertight case, dummy.

Walking back to my bike.
Ride stats.

Actual mileage a bit over 8.  It was not registering at first.
Going back to the Seminole State Forest tomorrow.  Doing a car/ bike shuttle to Katie's Landing.  So, I'll drop the yak at the bridge, drive to Katie's, bike back, paddle down Blackwater and up the Wekiva to Katie's.  Hopefully I'll remember the pay stub.  Don't think Officer Quaterman will believe my story two days in a row. Just as I was getting ready to leave, he pulled up.  Asked everyone, two guys fishing from the bridge, another two from the landing, and me, for our pay stubs.   If I was going to use the Forest without paying, I'd just grab an envelope, not fill it, and hang the stub on my windshield.


Luis said...

Master Dave, I am sure you have posted this before but I do not remember, How can people get access to that bridge you mentioned? Where is that gate?

Dave said...

The gate is just north of the Forest entrance on HWY 46. Contact the Florida Division of Forestry for a permit.

Luis said...

Thanks. Have to plan that paddle. I am looking forward to paddle Blackwater Creek.