Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Returned to Chassahowitzka, town, campground/boat launch, National Wildlife Refuge, Spring, and River, for the first time since New Year's Day.   Half the year!  Can't let that much time slip by again.  On the other hand, it shows how many great places are within an easy drive of my house. The Chassahowitzka River Campground, the only spot to launch on the Chas, is 90 miles away.  First photo, below, at 7:37 AM.
Two fishing boats and a canoeing couple launching as I did. I launched just off the concrete boat ramp, walking into the water. I did not use the new kayak ramp.

 I paddled down the east/south shore, making the usual stop at Houseboat/Tarpon Spring to see if any manatees were present. No. I have see some there this time of year, Memorial Day 2009. None in the Spring, but one was nearby. I left the Spring, went down the Chas a bit. Two boats zoomed by. After the second, I heard an exhale. Turned around, just saw air bubbles. Did not see the manatee. I then came to Baird Creek, and paddled up to Baird Blue Spring.

Continued up the narrow run behind Baird Blue, towards, but not all the way to, The Crack Spring.

It was to shallow, and I was too lazy to walk.  So, I turned around.

Back into Baird Blue Spring, and continuing down Baird Creek.

Reentering the Chas.  I'm going to link two maps so you can follow my route.

The great egret was on the left/south side of the Chass.  I paddled across, to paddle on the north side of the three island chain near Salt Creek.  At the opening, to my surprise, I saw this.

I'm never seen a dolphin this far up the Chass.  Easy to take photos, I don't think it had enough depth to fully submerge. Or shake the seaweed off its fin.

 Looks like it did shake the seaweed. After hunting at the mouth of the channel where the Chass splits, it then headed up River. I continued down, encountering another aquatic mammal.


The couple who had put their canoe in before me were coming back up the Chas.  I told them about the dolphin.  They said they had seen several.  I hoped to see what they saw, or "my" dolphin as it made its was back down River.  Alas, no more dolphins for me.


 Every other manatee zone I know is in the winter.  On the Chass, its April through August.
 Lots of wildlife, and first hour fifty minutes I was not yet in the Wildlife Refuge.
Least tern.

Saw three manatees at a spot where I often see them this time of year.  Near a Manatee Zone sign just down stream of Crawford Creek.  Unable to get good pics, just the exhaust from an exhale before going under and a scarred back.

 On my way to the dock at Dog Island, above, another manatee.  Coming straight at me.  Until, it did a flip turn, making a huge wake, and headed the other direction.
The view as I turned around, just past the dock.   Years ago, when I was more nimble, and/or the River was high, I got out here.  No way today.  I think I could get out.  Getting back in would be a problem.

Bald eagles often perch in dead palm trees on both sides of the Chas near Dog Island and Crawford Creek.   None today.  The mouth of Crawford, with some of the aforementioned palmless palms.
I entered and paddled up the Creek.

It was a good day to see yellow crowned night herons.
 Adults and juveniles,

I came to the point where Blue Run enters the Creek, but kept going up Crawford.  For the first time, I made it all the way to Beteejay Spring. And beyond.
I figured there was another spring. There is, one I had never hear of until I saw it on one of the maps I posted on this Tale.  Rita Marie.  I put that in my web browser and found this  You'll have to go to the last page to read about Rita Marie and Beteejay Springs.
The Florida Geological Survey states there are "residences" at Beteejay Spring.  I think it is one large home, spanning the Creek and Spring.

Scenic Crawford Creek.

Best gator photo of the day.

Houses on Crawford Creek, near Blue Run. Must be "off the grid"  I don't see any power lines.
 Entrance to Blue Run. I thought of paddling up it, but was 12:20, and I was a good distance from the Chassahowitzka Campground launch.  I ate a sandwich earlier, standing in the Creek.

Yellow crowned night herons were as common as anhingas on the Winter Park Chain of Lakes.

 Approaching the Chas, 12:45.

So far, I'd seen a dolphin, otters, manatees and alligators. No bald eagles, or deer, so far.  Arrived at the mouth of Potter Creek.  Having seen eagles on Potter before, I decided to paddle up this Creek.

Coming around the final bend before Potter Spring, above, a large bird with a broad white tail, took off. I didn't see the head, from from the size, and tail, I think I saw a bald eagle. I paddled on, to Ruth Springs.

I thought of getting out of the yak and in the water, but the mosquitoes and deer flies ended that thought.  The above pic is holding the camera in the water, from the kayak.

The  run from Ruth Spring to Potter Spring is short, narrow, and lovely.  Towards the end, I heard voices, so I paddled faster to get out before they entered.  No room for 2-way traffic.  4 people in two kayaks. "Is there a spring back there?" "Yes" I did not tell them about the bugs, or the deep oozing muck near the bank.  Let them find out the way I did.  Personal observation and action.

 I took the photo below to show how plants/weeds are trying to take over Potter Creek.  I don't recall them being so thick. A brown plant.

Return to the Chas.
Snowy egret

I stopped at Houseboat/Snapper Spring to see if manatees, or anything else was around.  Nope.  Paddled the run entering the spring as far as I could.

I'm not sure this is a "run" that is, the immediate waterway coming from a spring.  But, each spring I visited today has a second spring and spring run flowing into it.  Including Chassawhitzka Main Spring, just off the dock at the Campground.  What I always refer to as the "Solution Holes" based on the first description I found about these springs. 
I paddled to the springs. Three power boats and their occupants at the entrance. I could handle that crowd.  but, at the back end, more motor boats, several kayaks, and dogs.  Two crowded for me.   I think the US Geological  Service has the right name for this spring. Bubba. I never heard or read it called that until I saw it on one of the maps linked to this Tale.
Coming in for landing. 3:19 PM. Almost eight hours on the water.  On the way home, I stopped at the Van Fleet Trail for a 7 mile ride.
Cattle egret

Gopher tortoise

Gopher tortoise burrow

Dave, you ask, how do you know you rode 7 miles?
Because I turned around here, and started at the 29 mile mark.

 Nice shaded trail on a hot afternoon.  I saw several gopher tortoises, cardinals and a bobwhite quail

If I had a snack here, my elbows would be off the table.  Some of my family may recall what I'm talking about.

No comments: