Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wekiva River

I had to work today, Saturday, May 14, 2011.  But, I was done at 11:45, so was able to get a six hour paddle in.  Wekiva River, from Katie's Landing to the St. Johns River and back.   Summer has arrived, bringing afternoon thunderstorms.  Thus, the opening photo.  On my way back, just before the rain began.

I was on the River at 12:50.


 Two fishermen in a canoe landed as I was launching, another kayaker put in just after me. Three more kayakers coming up River, on the east side of the island downstream of Wekiva Haven, as I floated down the Wekiva on the west side.  That's it for paddlers

It was warm.  Too warm for alligators to be out of the water.  At least I did not see any.

Out of the water, that is.  The three pics above are all of the same alligator.

There were more motor boats than muscle powered on the River.  Just thought of another kayak. A woman in a long blue yak with a Bimini top. That makes 7.  Not quite 2x that many motor boats.  All, when the were moving, slowed when they saw me.  Including the guy, who accelerating after he passed me, kept speeding through the Manatee Zone.  Can't have everything.  I hoped to see a manatee. A friend saw two very active ones on Friday.  I was not so fortunate.

I was a bit past Blackwater Creek, down River of the little island, when it began to rain.  So I turned around.  The rain stopped, so I turned around again.  Better chance to see manatees closer to the St. Johns River. 
Young wood ducks

You know I did not see manatees.  But, a bald eagle was at its favored perch on the St. Johns River.

Too bad is was on the St. Johns, and not the Wekiva.  The St. Johns has TMGDFBMWs. That's to many gol darn fast boats making wakes. Not one which noticed the eagle.  Poor saps. The eagle had enough of the commotion, and found another perch, before leaving the area.

Back to the Wekiva.

More young wood ducks

The rain returned, this time to stay for about two hours. Steady and light.  Distant thunder and lighting.  The rain was welcome, can't kayak without it.

I tried out a cheap poncho I bought for summer paddling.  Didn't put it on for an hour or so, but when I did, it seemed to work ok.  The true test will come in a real downpour.  The kind that turns the kayak into a bathtub.
If it had been pouring I would not have sat in reeds and lily pads to photo a pair of prothonotary warblers.

The rain caused the temperature to drop, I'm guessing, at least 20 degrees. From near 90 to the low 70's.

The rain let up, and, eventually, stopped.

A sign the rain has stopped.  Anhinga drying its wings.  Another sign.
Poncho on yak, not Dave.

Turkey on the lawn.

I returned to Katie's about 6:30, explored the area across from the launch, often a treasure trove of bird like.  Just moorhens, mottled ducks and ibis today.
Did not see the sand hill crane nest I saw on my last visit, April 1.   As I landed, a cry to wake the dead broke the early evening quiet.  "What the hell is ... oh, sand hill cranes.

As I drove away, more turkeys. Crossing Wekiva Park Road.  Two adults and a gang of chicks.  I made a slight detour to check out the new launch at Wilson's Landing.
First thing I noticed, the dirt parking area is getting paved, and is now marked "Canoe Drop off" or something like that.  Can't remember as I compose on  Sunday.  So, you need to drop your boat, drive to the main lot, and walk back.  No space anymore to park under the trees.

A short canal has to be cleared.

 The pathway looks smooth, but is very rough.  You will have to cart or carry your craft.  No dragging.   At the bottom rocks.  I hope the canal is shallow enough to stand in.  Pushing of the rocks will only damage your vessel.   I wonder if the people who build "kayak/canoe ramps" have ever paddled or even asked paddlers for their ideas.  Because, and pardon my French, several clusterfuck ramps have been built lately.  This, Chassahowitzka, and Hillsborough/ Trout Creek, for example.

An example of a good ramp is the one at Silver River State Park.  Wide, gradual slope, rubber mat surface. 
If I launch again from Wilson's, which is a good spot for up Wekiva River trips, I'll put in at the old spot between the trees.

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