Thursday, June 16, 2005

Merritt's Mill Pond

Also known as Merritt Mill Pond. I went here once early last year and have been saying I would go back again, and this day seemed like an ideal opportunity. Unheard-of 20% chance of rain. So I got up, did some editing work (gainful employment can so get in the way of paddling time), and then headed out.

This is a long way from my home, about 100 miles or a little more. So it will never be a regular paddling spot for me, but at once-a-year intervals, it's well worth the drive. Last time I went I put in at the public boat ramp on Hunter Fish Camp Road. This time I decided to visit the Blue Springs Recreation Area. Their website says they have "new boat docks," which I leapt to the conclusion meant that they had something resembling a boat ramp. When I got to the little entrance gazebo to pay my $2 entrance fee, I asked the guy whether they had a boat ramp. He said well, no, and started to point down the road to the public ramp area. I asked if I could put in on the beach. He said no, because the swimming area was fenced off from the rest of the pond. Then he said that actually I could put in over to the side beyond the swimming fence, that was where they put the canoes in. Ok, that should work. He took down the chain blocking the way to the docks (Authorized Vehicles Only), and, duly authorized, I drove down there.

It looked ok, and it looked like I could get back out, too (I have noticed that putting in and taking out are two very different things--on land you can maneuver the boat however you want it--coming back, particularly if the bottom drops off near shore, can you maneuver back to a position that will allow you to step OUT of the boat??). So this would work. I unloaded the kayak and paraphernalia and then parked the car under a tree nearby. While there, I went up on the dock and took a picture of the pond (which is like a wide, long river, really) (actually not that long).


Very slight breeze, enough to be refreshing but not a hindrance. The water was unbelievable. It's too bad the color doesn't seem to make it to the screen. It makes the clarity of the Wakulla and Wacissa seem just a bit second-rate. I have never seen water like this before; I can't even describe it. In those areas where there is just sand on the bottom, the water above it looks so blue that I actually found myself wondering--if I scooped some water up in a jar, would the water actually be blue?? (No, I don't think so...) I spent most of the beginning of the paddle looking down into it, never mind the bank scenery. When it was completely flat, the effect was like snorkeling except from above the surface. Never seen anything like it. The water got a little less clear as I got farther from the spring (which is at the recreation area, though there are others).

This was mostly just for the pleasure of the paddling and the super underwater scenery rather than looking for birds to photograph. I did see a giant blue heron on the shore at the other end, but it flew away long before I got close enough for a picture. Found a sandy bank to get out and had a snack. Got to the dam end and turned around. No other paddlers, a few fishing boats sitting still in the water.

I stopped at the lower boat ramp and got out and submerged in the water for awhile to cool off--it was about 94 degrees out, and while the breeze certainly helped, it was still nice to get in the water, which was cool but not spring-cold.

While on my way back, I spotted a group of 4 ducks, sunning on a tree stump sticking up from the water. I'm afraid they saw me coming long before I got close to them and were well on their way to some kayak-free area by the time I got the camera up, but I did manage to snap a picture.



I got back to the rec area after about 4 hours of paddling, the usual. No problem at all getting out. Loaded it up, but then I parked up near the swimming area. I was feeling pretty overheated by this time. So I walked down and submerged in the spring.  The water was very CHILLY. But it felt good. I sat there for a minute or so and then headed home.

Stand by for more tales.

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