Thursday, December 22, 2005

Back to the Wacissa

Since paddling times are limited to afternoons, when the air temperatures have warmed up somewhat (we are having an unseasonably cold winter here in north Florida!), it seems that I will be doing most of my paddling at the Wacissa until (assuming) this area warms up--it's closest to my home and so allows for the longest time on the water.

I got there at 2 pm. One truck in the lot with a boat trailer, one pickup. I saw the power boat that presumably went with the trailer ahead of me when I set out, and I never saw another human once it disappeared in the distance.

Nice day. I was warm enough in my paddling pants and black long-sleeved Duofold first-layer pullover top (how's that for a Cussler-esque description?) till about 4, when I had to put on a fleece jacket, and shortly after that I took out at the ramp. Most of the trees around here lose their leaves over winter and since we don't have any snow to blanket the landscape, we have vistas of gray and brown during these months. Fortunately, the color green is alive and well on the Wacissa.

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For awhile I encountered a lot of very shy birds. In fact, most of them did this when I approached:

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I drifted downstream (the put-in for this river is at the headsprings so it is downstream-only to start) for awhile. I saw an ibis fly into the inlet to Blue Spring so I followed it, where I was able to get some pictures of it.

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And this heron was back there--based on the location and its indifference to my presence, I'm going to guess that maybe this is the same one as pictured in the trip report below this one.

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When I got to the end, I parked in the horticulture and decided to engage in more Fun With The Camera's Panorama Function. This is what the spring area looks like--that's a raft that gets used during summer by people swimming in the cool spring water:

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A little farther downstream I came to a large egret poised on a branch enjoying the warmth of the sun. I always feel a little conflicted about paddling over toward birds that are just trying to relax and get a little peace and quiet...this one did not seem to mind my presence. I have no idea what's going on with the foot action here--and it does have somewhat ugly feet, though that might be just my opinion...

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I took a long time to cover the first mile of this river; you see a lot more if you slow down, I find. The sun goes down quickly, though, and it can get a bit chilly so I turned around a little after that first mile and headed back upstream.

And that's when I saw them.

Four otters.

I saw them long before they saw me, they were busy gamboling in the water, fortunately fairly far from shore. The good news was that I was going upstream so I was not zooming toward them in the current, with no way to quietly slow my progress; the bad news was that as soon as I put the paddle down and picked up the camera, I would begin to move away from them and drift back downstream. I made two powerful forward strokes to propel myself and then switched the paddle for the camera. They saw me do this.

They freaked out.

Interestingly, they didn't swim away from me upstream, but rather swam downstream, passing next to me, all the while alternating between swimming and stopping to stick their heads and necks out of the water and barking at me. "Who are you?" "What are you?" "Where did you come from?" "What are you doing?" "Go away!"

It was really something. I saw two otters last time but they were on shore and I only got glimpses. I don't know if I will be this lucky again, it was such a fortunate combination of elements here. And here are the pictures I got out of it.

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And as they got farther away, I got this last one:

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A really fine day on the river.

I hope you all enjoy the holidays! Stand by for the next trip. Hopefully our weather will return to normal soon and stop this nonsense of cold days and overnight freezes!

1 comment:

FH2O said...

Its nice and warm over here except for the rain. Has been raining everyday here.

Nice panaromic shot.