If a search I did on my site is to be believed, I had not paddled the full Hontoon Loop, the St. Johns River from Blue Spring State Park to Hontoon Island State Park, the Hontoon Dead River to Snake Creek, back to the St. Johns, since February 13, 2011. So, I did it Sunday, April 1, 2012. After a snorkel up Blue Spring Run.
In the water at 8:39. Water level low, flow fast. I had to stop and rest, it was so difficult to swim against. I've never seen Blue Spring Run so low. Nor did a scuba diver, walking up the Run. "I've never seen it so low." The hardest 4 minute swim I've done.
I did not spend much time at the Spring itself. Began the drift down the Run.
A turtle photo did not turn out. Plenty of gar photos did.
Only a few people in the Run. Which is why I swam first. Easter week, a hot forecast, I knew it would be packed, later. In the kayak at 9:30.
Paddled up Blue Springs Run, which was already getting busy with other canoers and kayakers.
I did not paddle over the Spring, as it was getting crowded. That's why I snorkeled over it earlier.
Back to the St. Johns to begin the downstream paddle to Hontoon Island State Park 9:56 am
As usual, I paddled on the west side of the island just up River from Blue Spring Run, across from the French Ave ramp.
Back on the main channel of the St Johns River
Until April 15, the entire St Johns from Blue Spring to Hontoon Island State Park is either Idle Speed, or Slow Speed. Perfect for manatees. And kayakers. Of which I saw neither.
Into Lake Beresford.
Where I spent a little more time to usual, to verify osprey or eagle.
Little wind to unfurl the ensign on my favorite boat. My brother has a photo of a sailboat on Lake Michigan today. Said to be the first of the season. So, its safe for the Bold Eagle to make the cruise back to Green Bay. Speaking of eagles.
I first saw the eagle as it was being pursued by an osprey. The eagle landed, as the osprey continued to dive bomb the eagle. Had to be a nest nearby.
This was just north of Hontoon Island State Park and the confluence with the Hontoon Dead River. As I paddle to see the raptor battle, a group on a boat asked if I saw "the alligator" I replied I did but the eagle and osprey were more interesting. And, the gator was still there when I turned my attention to it.
My old lunch spot on the HDR
Three views, one great blue.
Heron beginning to get blue.
You can't see the great blue that is in the nest.
The opening photo is my lunch spot on Snake Creek. 1:00 am. Beautiful spot,but for mucky conditions near the bank.
There were three other paddlers in Snake Creek. Ahead of me. I'm guessing they paddled up the Creek a bit then headed back. I waited until they got out of sight and sound.
Back on the St. Johns
I went into the lagoon south of Blue Springs. Once, years ago, I saw matting manatee herd there. Now, I'd guess its too shallow. I landed about 3, to a bustling Blue Springs State Park. I got on the road bike.
Road the Park road.
To the Springs to Springs Trail.
Off the main trail under the railroad tracks, is a 2 mile loop in Lake Beresford Park.
Short, unpaved trails also wind through the Park.
Off the Springs Trail, which eventually will go to DeLeon Springs, short trails lead to Lake Beresford.
Back on the bike
My best osprey whistle got the bird to poke it head out. Not for long. Apparently my best isn't good enough to fool a mother.
Watching this gopher tortoise, I thought, I gotta film this. If it doesn't download, find my FB page.
Further down the trail, another tortoise.
Back to Blue Springs State Park, two final photos from the fishing dock on the St. Johns.
It was 5 PM. I was hot and sweaty. The mercury got up to 87. I thought about another swim, but the Park was still near full. When I began my bike ride, people were lined up to get in. So, I went home. Could have stayed an hour past sunset, as the Park is letting people stay to see fireflies, which are at their peak this time of year. Which got me thinking, I saw a lot of fireflies one time camping in the Seminole State Forest. So I put fireflies Seminole State Forest in my search engine. The first link, Dave's Yak Tales, from last April. I'm camping there this weekend. I'll let you know if I see any fireflies. And bears, and deer, and otters, and alligators and manatees, and......