Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Myakka River

I visited Myakka River State Park today, Saturday, May 21, 2011. I considered Ichetucknee River, as I had not made a spring visit. Full tubing season starts next Saturday, I don't want to deal with that crowd. But with temps forecast in the 90's I figured the lower half of the Ich would be packed with tubers, so I'll wait until fall. The Myakka is another place I had not visited since fall, October. So southwest to Sarasota.

Went into the Ranger Station to get my permit to enter the Wilderness Preserve. A word of warning on a whiteboard.

"River into Lower Lake almost dry"  That is where I was headed.   The low level began at the start, where I launched near the Park Road bridge.  I had to walk a ways, take apart the paddle and push before I was floating.

Already warm at 9:30.  Very few alligators on the banks, and the banks were more exposed than usual.  Plenty in the River.

 The Myakka River is a great place to see birds I don't always encounter, like the black bellied whistling ducks above.

Into the Wilderness Preserve.

I'm sure the anglers on the bank had their permits. (wink, wink)  Only 30 people a day are allowed into the Preserve, which extends from State Highway 72 to the south end of Lower Myakka Lake.
The turtle and this tri colored heron are the only animal photos until I got to the Lake. The water is very low, but I made it.
Lots of birds where the River widens into Lower Lake Myakka.
Black necked stilts.
I think that's a red tailed hawk sharing a tree with an osprey.
Water level was very shallow, but I found the "deep" part.

Followed the alligators to paddleable depth.  This was one of three.

At the south end of Lower Myakka Lake is Deep Hole, a 140 foot, at least, sink in the otherwise shallow lake.  I say "at least" as I do not think it has ever been measured.  Too many alligators.   This is not Deep Hole, but about 2/3 of the way across the Lake.

Call it, "Medium Sized Hole".

Saw 5, 6 glossy ibis flying overhead as I paddled down to the Lake. One landed.

I was nearing Deep Hole. Egrets were feeding in shallow water, an alligator, lay, half submerged.  Than, I must have startled another gator in the murky water, as suddenly, one shot out of the water at a 35 degree angle, splashing back down.  Alligators don't frighten me, but this got the old ticker stopping and starting for a moment.  I'm glad it wasn't coming towards me.   Excitement over, I paddled to get a closer view of some rosette spoonbills.

Able to get very close.

This was just outside of Deep Hole. I saw just two alligators on the surface. There may have been more, but the water around the Hole is very shallow. I had to get out and walk after running aground while watching the spoonbills. I think most of the gators were where I saw them earlier.

The opening photo of the Tale is from this flock, as is this video.  Download is not working, I'll try to post it on FB

As the water was so shallow, instead of walking to find deeper water, and continue down River, I turned back.

I don't know if the brown is from dry conditions or herbicide.

This is what Deep Hole usually looks like.  I was back at "Medium Sized Hole"

Hogs on the shore. And a deer.

The deer sauntered out of the woods, took one look at the pigs, and dashed away.

I was able to get closer to the porkers.

See how the ground is torn up?  That's what pigs do, as the search for food, rooting up the ground.
Back to the north end of Lower Lake Myakka, where spoonbills, and more, fed.

Another group.

Least terns

There were two bird groups, so I was able to take lots of photos as I searched for the River channel.

Found it.

Rudy turnstone.
The River got crowded on the way up River. Four people in two canoes.  I took a lunch break after they passed by.

Out of the Preserve, into the Park.

Where I was the only one on the water.

I thought of continuing, paddling up River of the Park bridge, but it was hot, my left elbow was, and is, sore, and I had been on the water for 5.5 hours, so I called it a day.

Kayaking day, that is.  Some of that 5.5 hours was spent futzing with the backup camera battery.  I drained the first, and the spare is finicky.  The camera doesn't always turn on with it inside. And never with the underwater case.  I need to get a new spare.  This one split apart, and is scotch taped together. Perhaps the reason it does not always work.  So, I went to the Park concession to see if they had batteries.  Memory cards, yes, the battery for my camera, no. 
I planned on going for a bike ride at the north end of the Park, but it began to rain.  I sat in the car, waiting for it to stop.  It did not. So, I decided to leave. But, as I drove, the rain did stop, so I stopped at another trail head and went for a short ride.

In the early 20th century, the area that is now the Park was a cattle ranch.  This looks like a fire hydrant from those days.
No visit to Myakka River State Park is complete until  I have climbed the canopy walkway.
The short tower, and the walkway from the ground.

The walkway, looking towards the tall tower.

View from the top.
Myakka River

Upper Myakka Lake

Wisconsin donor.  Had me thirsting for a Leinkugel's.
Back on the ground.  Had to stop at the Ranger Station to return my Wilderness Permit.  Feeling generous, I dropped a dollar in a donation box.  And bought a hat.  Baseball style, with a longer bill, and long flap in back.  Will be better than tucking a used hanky into the back of my cap.  SPF 45.  The rear flap has a zipper pocket. Great, I thought, put a few bucks and driver's license in there, but what happens when, as all caps do, it blows off and sinks?   The cap has a cord on the back, I could not figure out what is was for.  Neither could the attendant.  I bought it anyway, $19.99, and I assume some of that goes to the Myakka Friends, whose turtle logo is on the front.  When I got hope I googled the brand, Adams, to see if I paid too much.  I got a deal, and learned that the cord, which has a clip at the end, is used for attaching to your collar.  So, when the wind blows, your hat won't get far. Should have bought one of these years ago.

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