The reservation provides the combination to unlock the gate. Prior visits were by kayak and bicycle. Campsites are first come, first served. Two directly on the water were taken. As was a third, which I thought also was on the water. It is, but with a twist. More on that later. There are two more sites, or maybe one big one, as the stand up grill and fire ring are somewhat far apart. The empty site was the one with picnic table and fire ring. I parked, took the kayak off the roof. Did not set up camp, hoping by the time I got back, a better site would be available. A guy at one of the river front sites said the people on the site to his left were leaving in the afternoon. Cool. As were the temps at 8:30. And foggy. But, I knew it would warm up so I shoved off in normal yaking attire, swim suit and t-shirt.
Cacampsite situated, I went for a bike ride.
A short paddle, thirty minutes. Landed, fired up the grill. And fire pit.
The nice thing about sleeping in pants, socks and jacket, is you're ready to go in the morning. I left the tent maybe 7:30, started the grill, and went for a stroll.
Saw just one boater as I paddled. Downstream, headed north. Like the St. Johns, the Withlacoochee is a north flowing River.
This was my first time paddling this part of the Withlacoochee. I've paddled the section from the Highway 41 bridge at Dunnellon to the Rainbow River several times. That was where I launched my first kayak, in March, 2005. Paddled the section from Highway 50 to Nobleton, once. The section I paddled today is mostly wide, but does narrow in a few spots. As mentioned before, in several spots, it divides in two or more branches. That's where the tall mile markers are a nice aid to navigation.
The cattle were on my right. On my left, a few houses. Some man made canals. I did not see a spring. At mile marker 28, I decided it was time to turn back. I had paddled over 5 miles.
I also had passed some exposed limestone. Figured a spring had to be nearby.
I found Blue Spring. Or at least the run to it. It was on my "other right". Too shallow to paddle up the run, and with houses on either side, I did not want to get out and walk. One of the few reference I've found about this Blue Springs mentions airboats (boo !) get to it. I know they are shallow draft, but the run must be shallower than usual. Later on, some folks walking along the River said, "Wow, it sure is low"
Limestone in the Withlacoochee.
I was glad the River was low, or there may not have been a spot to take a break.
I was not certain the run I was in came from Blue Spring. I entered another cove on my right, east bank, then a man-made looking canal. A concrete ramp at the end. Very clear water. Weedy. A gentleman was on the bank. I asked if this was Blue Spring. No, that's downstream. With a clear run, house on both sides, I asked. Yes. So I had found Blue Spring, or at least the run coming from it.
I shared the up River paddle with about 10 boats, including 3 airboats. I say airboat users should not be allowed to wear ear muffs. You make everyone else listen to your f$%*ing noise, you should to. Then maybe you'd get a muffler.
Landed at 3:10. The campground was empty. Surprising, as most people have Monday off. Maybe getting to cold to camp. Today, Monday, I saw a friend at Wekiwa Springs State Park who said a "Meetup" group was planning on going to Potts Preserve today but it was closed. I did a little searching on the internet. Found that group, from the comments it was last weekend the Preserve was closed, due to a wildfire. The were going to start camping on Dec. 30, but canceled. The Preserve website states, as it did all last week, that some trails may be closed due to wildfires. I saw that some trails did have signs up saying they were closed, due to wildfires. Not smelling smoke, I walked them, not far, anyway. Bottom line, I'm glad that meetup group canceled. As that opened up a spot for me.
I loaded the car, had a bite to eat. Thought of going for a bike ride, but was tired and sore, and had to work Monday morning. So I left.