Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blackwater Creek, Wekiva River, to the St Johns

Thursday night, I was thinking of where to kayak this weekend. After being in Wisconsin two weeks ago, Sanibel Island last week, and heading to Key West next weekend, I pondered where to go this weekend.  I decided its always good to have a permit to drive into Seminole State Forest and paddle Blackwater Creek.  So, I sent an email, got a response with permit attached Friday morning.  It's good through July 4.   Friday evening, a friend posted a video on Facebook, from Blackwater Creek.  I asked what the conditions were.  She had just paddled a little bit of the Creek, coming up from the Wekiva River,  but said there were two possible blockages.   Which is common for Blackwater. You never know if you are going to be able the entire creek.

I arrived at the Seminole State Forest, two cars at the pay station.  One with a kayak.  Great, a crowd. "Oh, hi, Joanne"  The person with the FB video.  Despite having her kayak, she was their for a bike ride.  The other guy must have been there to fish Bear Pond, he pulled into the parking lot just past the pay station.  Joanne unlocked the gate and drove through,  I followed, stopped to lock the gate behind us. Drove in a drizzle to the launch site.  Which stopped by the time I got in the water at 8:15.
An "opps" video has an unique perspective.
Overcast skies kept things somewhat cool.

So many alligators, most not for long. This one stayed on the surface for two pictures.

I've seen a few dead animals on my paddles, alligators, deer. Never a bear.
Until today.  I wonder what happened.  Seems a recent demise.  No flies, and even when I got downwind, not smelling to bad.   Was it crossing the Creek, got stuck in a strainer  (fallen trees/branches) and drowned?  Or had it died further up the Creek, and the body floated to this spot?   It was about 10-15 minutes up Creek from the high spot on the left side.  Where I saw a bear at Christmas.  Between the dead bear and the high spot, I saw the only people I'd see on Blackwater Creek.  Two guys in a jonboat.  "Must be clear to the Wekiva"

 Fresh saw marks.  Someone recently cleared the Creek.  Thank you.  I did my part. Fished a can out of the water.  Wonder how long this has been there.
 Folks my age and older will remember this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQv9FB1t3oo&feature=player_embedded
Got to the Wekiva River at 10:50.
I went down River.  Saw two manatees at the spot where two channels merge with the main River.  On the right side.  I got a couple good views, snouts, fluke, rollover, but no photos.
This woman said it was the first manatee she had ever seen. Must be from out of state.  Although the boat she was in had Florida registration.  So, she gets a pass on touching it.  I did my first time.

 Saw the brown body, white head, eagle?  Just an osprey.

Juvenile black crowned night heron.

Entered the St Johns.  A large bird was on the bald eagle tree.  I paddled for a closer look.  Just a vulture.  I turned back, as blue sky made an appearance.

 Yellow crowned night heron

 Osprey flight.

 Some people say this log looks like an alligator, I agree.  There were no more than 5 boats on the Wekiva.  All power.  All, if they were moving, going slow.  One crew, who I saw both coming and going, asked if I had seen the manatees. They had sat and watched them while they, the humans, had lunch.  My the time I got to the spot, the manatees had left.  Or just held their breath until I left.

 Back to Blackwater Creek at 12:50.

 Took a break on the high ground about 40 minutes later.  No bears, just spiders.

 Speaking of bears, the dead one had drifted off one snag, onto another.

 It is small, I was wondering if I had mistaken it for a dog.  I don't think dogs have claws like this.

I wonder if the guys in the jon boat had run over the log the bear had been on,, causing it to drift to the other side of the Creek.  They were fishing, a ways up Creek.  I did not ask.

 The blue sky did not last.  Light rain, distant thunder  for the last 30 minutes of the paddle.

Landed at 3:30. A seven hour cruise.  Had the bike with me, but decided not to ride in the rain.  Was thinking of doing a car/bike shuttle tomorrow, paddle from the Seminole State Forest to Katie's Landing, but someone wants to kayak with me.  So, we'll shuttle the conventional way.  Two cars.


Luis said...

Do really need to paddle Blackwater Creek. It is a shame the bear was dead. I am still looking forward to see one from the kayak. Great post Sir!!!!

Dave said...

Thanks Luis. I need to see a yellow crowned heron eating fiddler crabs. As you did yesterday on the Tomoka RIver.