Friday, September 30, 2005

Lake Talquin--Oh, deer!

Well, check this out:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I went three hours without seeing a deer, and then saw several, including the one above. Given the shoreline forest density, I was very fortunate to get that picture. That deer had a younger one following it, so I just hung out motionless in the little cove to take pictures. Here's the younger one:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This was really exciting. I took several more pictures of these two but none came out as clearly.

But I get ahead of myself.

I put in at Pat Thomas park again, in the Montauk, at 10:15. Total time on the lake was five hours and 45 minutes--a new record for me. I did make several stops.

This was a day to see the birds but for the most part not photograph them (they are so shy on this lake!). Today I saw several anhingas, some thrilling bald eagles, many great blue herons, some reddish herons, egrets (of course), belted kingfishers, a pileated woodpecker, common moorhens, and a male and female wood duck pair as they quickly fled my presence. Only one great blue heron held still enough for long enough to snap a picture today.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I started to the left this time after leaving the boat ramp at the park. There was no wind, the water was calm and flat, just perfect for wildlife viewing while paddling. This lake has many different shoreline characteristics. There is the wooded area, where you can see the deer:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Then there are areas with tall grasses, which is where the ducks and duck-like birds hang out:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

And the marshy areas, where you will see more birds and some gators, along with, today, lots of water lilies:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

So I paddled for about 2 hours in that direction. Soon I spotted a marina. What great timing, I was ready to get out for a stretch and a snack and some water. It turned out to be part of Whippoorwill Sportsman's Lodge. I saw some nice-looking townhouses near the boat ramp and so I went into the little shop/restaurant to find out if they were for rent. Not only did the guy say they were for rent, he offered to show me one. How convenient. It's not bad, a little sparse in terms of home-y decor, but the word "sportsman" does appear in their name so that explains that. They are $89 a night. Fairly reasonable. He rents canoes there and came down to the ramp with me to look at the kayak and we discussed his renting kayaks as well as canoes for awhile.

I turned around at that point as I wanted to go back to the area on the other side of Pat Thomas park as well. It was a nice journey out that way, very peaceful. A couple of fishermen were enjoying the day as well, and one of them was protected from the sun.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I actually passed them twice, going out and back, about 30-40 minutes apart, and the poor guy at the bow was in the sun both times I saw them. Nice umbrella, though.

This has rapidly become my favorite place to paddle, I suppose in part because of the addition of deer sightings. I wonder if that will be easier when there are no leaves on the trees to obscure them, or will they stay deeper in the woods then?

Big plans to go back to the Suwannee and Withlacoochee early next week, stand by for that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Limpkin Day on the Wacissa River

Ok, fine, maybe it wasn't the official government-sanctioned Limpkin Day...but it could have been. Never saw so many on the river.

Got there at about 10:30. While I was unloading, a woman drove up with a yak on her car (a Wilderness Systems Manteo). We chatted for awhile; I wondered if she would want to paddle together since we were both starting at the same time. However, she mentioned in the course of conversation that it was "cardio day" for her (wouldn't you just know it? Yesterday was cardio day for me. Today was "leisure day") so she would be going at a brisk pace. I ended up heading out before she did, and sure enough, she did pass me eventually and vanish into the distance.

Here's one of the many limpkins I saw. I didn't notice it at the time, but I got several pictures of this one and in all of them it appears to only have one leg. Well, there are gators on this river...

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Cute face, I think (maybe I have been spending too much time around these birds). Later on I got a picture of what I thought was two limpkins--again, it was only when I got it out of the camera and on to the computer screen that I noticed the third one poking up in the middle.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

When I got about a half-mile from Cedar Island, I spotted the cardio woman just hanging out in the middle of the river.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I caught up with her (not too hard since she wasn't moving) and we chatted for awhile about paddles (the lightness of carbon blades vs. their potential fragility) and various paddling conditions. Trying to talk to someone in a kayak while staying in one place when there is current reminds me of when two people on horses in movie westerns try to talk and the horses are turning in circles and walking around and the people end up talking over their shoulders and always trying to get back into normal conversation positions. After awhile she headed back to the boat ramp (evidently that was enough cardio) and I went on to the island.

I got out at the island and walked around the open area. Apparently someone had been camping there recently; citronella candle cans (bug repellents) were on the ground at even intervals around the center of the clearing, and there was a battered frying pan on the ground. There were also several palm fronds stacked neatly in a pile near the entrance from the river. I wonder why.

At any rate, I left there to circle the island in a clockwise direction. The river narrows considerably to the left of the island and is very scenic. Lots of birds.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

There seemed to be less current today than on other trips to this part of the river, so paddling back upstream was simple (this river is downstream-first since you put in at the headspring).

About halfway back I saw an ibis tree!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

And look, these two look like they are just about ripe:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

And then gray clouds came in. It started to rain, just a light sprinkle while the sun was still out. It didn't last long, but the clouds stayed overhead and more were gathering.

Saw this heron on the way back--very striking bird, nice colors.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

About a mile from the boat ramp, the rain came back with much more vigor and zest. Your basic downpour, luckily without any thunder and therefore, hopefully, no lightning. I can now confirm that Tilley hats do indeed maintain their shape when they get wet; the brim does not get floppy but stays rigid to keep the rain out of your face. I can also attest to the fact that raindrops falling on the brim make a very pleasing pitter-patter sound. I found paddling in this kind of rain shower not at all unpleasant. It had been a warm day and it was very refreshing. As long as there is no threat of lightning...

Got back to the boat ramp after being out for a total of 4 hours and 45 minutes. A super day of paddling. The weather doesn't look promising enough to make the long drive out to Talquin again till sometime next week, when the 10-day forecast shows little smiley sunshine faces for our area. With gas prices where they are, I need to see a little smiley sunshine face before taking on that many miles.

Stand by for the next padding day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Cherry Lake

I decided to take the Montauk to this nearby small lake this morning for a short paddle, since I still haven't had any quality time in it.

This lake employs someone to collect a $5 ramp fee Thurs.-Sunday; on the other days they use the honor system with a place to deposit the money outside a padlocked gate. The lock on this gate is very old. The combination to the lock can be obtained by calling the local number (Parks and Recreation Dept.) that is posted on a large sign on the gate; the combination is part of their outgoing voice mail message, so it is available to anyone who calls (and it hasn't been changed for a long time; possible ever). I'm not sure why, therefore, the gate is padlocked. I truly think that wildlife would be stymied by a simple latch, but in any event, the wildlife or any humans on foot can simply walk into the park area around the gate, which ends where the pavement ends. It took me 6 tries to get the padlock to open when I was going in. (It took me 15 minutes and dozens of tries to get it to release when I was coming out.) It has to be at least 20 years old, the numbers on the little wheels are all but worn off, as I imagine the inner workings are as well.

But, having passed that hindrance, I unloaded the boat. The wind had come up by that time, but only enough to create a very mild chop.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Off I went. The boat, needless to say, performed wonderfully. After about 10 or 15 minutes, the wind died down and the lake went from choppy to ripply to almost completely smooth. A great test for the Montauk in a variety of lake conditions.

One feature of the Montauk that I hadn't considered but that became very obvious is its ability to glide for a great distance. The Mystic, in comparison, loses forward momentum fairly soon. This one, once the water and wind calmed, seemed to go on forever before slowing down.

About halfway around I came to the area where I knew a couple of swans hung out. And sure enough, they were there.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

They were in a small area surrounded by the shore, a couple of docks, and some reeds in the water. A great chance to see how the Montauk would behave when I needed to maneuver through some tight turns as I entered the small pool where the swans were but hugging the bend so I didn't get too close to them. It turned very well; it's longer than the Mystic so it might have required a little more room to clear the dock to the right as I swung left around the reeds, but it made it just fine and it turns well and easily.

There was another bird in the area, making a pitiful squawking noise, as if calling for a mate. The swans would chase this one away if it got too close. Not quite as attractive a bird, I'm afraid.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It only takes 90 minutes to circle this whole lake, including the time spent with the swans. Since I hope to get back to Talquin again tomorrow, that was enough for today. The wind came back and the skies got overcast as I was leaving, so the timing was excellent.

Talquin tomorrow, or if not, soon, I hope. Stand by.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Montauk Gets on the Water; Suwannee River; Withlacoochee River

I am not a patient person by nature and it was making me crazy having this brand new kayak in the driveway rather than on some water. It's not really a sterling idea to go out to paddle when there is a 400-mile wide hurricane churning up the Gulf right below you. NWS was predicting 70% chance of showers or thunderstorms, and 10-15 mph wind. However, here at the house the sky was blue and the air was perfectly calm so I loaded up the Montauk to head for Lake Talquin--same put-in spot as visited recently.

It's about 70 miles W-SW of here. When I got there, gray clouds were moving in fast from over the lake and the wind was blowing. The lake was very, very choppy, not my favorite conditions for a fun paddle. Clearly a case of the boat being more capable than the paddler. However, the boat ramp is in a somewhat protected cove, and since I was already there, might as well at least get on the water.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I paddled to the right, planning to just circle the small cove counterclockwise and then come back. This whole outing told me very little about how the boat handles in the conditions in which I would normally be out. However, it did inform me of some interesting things.
  1. The boat travels well inside the car, saving me money for a trailer and making it so much easier to load and unload.
  2. It fits me exactly as well as the Mystic while on the water.
  3. The small day hatch behind the seat is wonderful. I can open it and access anything inside of it while on the water, and then close it securely.

During my short paddle around the perimeter of the cove, I spotted a deer (running away from me into the woods, not its best side) and a great blue heron. When I got to where the cove joins the lake, I turned around and started back the other way. When I was across from the boat ramp, the wind had started coming into the cove from the lake, bringing some waves in with it. I decided to see how the boat would handle crossing with the wind and small swells coming in from the side. It did so superbly with no weathercocking whatsoever (skeg was halfway down).

The plan is to get back out this coming week to give the boat a proper trial. I couldn't really judge how easily it turns since the wind was such a factor.

==============================

This morning dawned sunny and calm and I decided to check out the Suwannee River at nearby Suwannee River State Park. The Mystic was going this time, the Montauk just seems like overkill on a relatively small and very calm river; it strikes me as better suited for lakes and for Apalachicola Bay when it finally cools down enough to take it camping.

I have been paddling this area of the Suwannee since my first kayak (a 9'5" yellow ex-rental Necky with a cockpit the size of a bathtub that I got for $100 and an old computer). The boat ramp is excellent and at this park you can actually drive right down to the water (as opposed to that at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, see earlier post). The current during my time on the water ranged from almost nonexistent to about 3 mph--no problems there. It's a very pretty river, with high banks on both sides and many sandy beach areas interspersed along the way. I saw two boats within the first 10 minutes and no others until I was on my way back downstream some 3 hours later. And it's Saturday! I saw one house, and the guy who lives there (presumably) was doing some clean-up work near the river. We chatted as I passed. He said he often sees deer, bears, foxes, and coyotes--mostly early in the morning and at dusk. He also told me how to get to a somewhat decrepit but usable boat ramp near his property, which would put me 2 hours upriver from the state park and let me see more of the river. I'll be checking that out some time.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I stopped at one of those sandy areas to stretch and have lunch. While I was walking along the edge looking in the water, I noticed how interesting the colors of this river are at the edges. It's filled with tannins, giving it a rust color that is very dark in deep areas (referred to as a blackwater river). The edge colors are very pretty, though.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

On my way back downstream I was passed by several paddlers in a spread-out group, most likely doing a float, possibly from nearby Gibson Park in Jasper. It's a 4-hour float from there to the state park where I put in. These guys had a nice setup to protect the passenger from sun...

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Around the time these boats were passing going downstream, a power boat passed me going upstream. The guy in it told me I had to go up the Withlacoochee, that the sturgeon were all over the place and it would be easy for me to see them in my "little boat." The Withlacoochee joins the Suwannee just a stone's throw from the park boat ramp, so I decided to check it out. This is another river that I spent a lot of time on in my early kayaking days.

It was 93 degrees out and by the time I turned onto the green and clear Withlacoochee, I had been on the water for 4 hours. First priority was to find a place to go for a little dip. Within 5 minutes of paddling I saw two large sturgeon. These fish can grow to 6-9 feet long--these were only about 4 feet long. Here's an interesting article from 2002 on Suwannee River sturgeon and their jumping habits, sometimes injuring boaters. Good thing I hadn't read this beforehand.

I found a nice area and got out to cool off in the water. At about waist-deep I started making Ricky Ricardo-like ay-ay-ay noises because the water was so cold, so that was good enough. I paddled upstream in the nicely slow current for a total of about 30 minutes, then realized that this river needs to be done separately. I recall that when the water is low, as it was today, there are some shoals that cannot be paddled about an hour upstream. If that's still the case, I can finish the day on the Suwannee--I'm not big on portaging around shoals (unless there is someone along to help carry the boat!).

Saw two more large sturgeon on the way back down. The water is clear and relatively shallow near the confluence of the two rivers, and the bottom sandy, so the fish are easy to spot (regardless of the size of the boat).

Another super day, and a place to return to often. I hope the levels and currents on both rivers stay this way for awhile.

Stand by for the next trip report.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The New Kayak Has Landed!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The Impex Montauk is now off the car, having arrived home from Carolina Beach, NC, where it was purchased yesterday. The foot pegs are set, the Pegpads are on (I highly recommend these to barefoot paddlers), it's ready to go.....as soon as Hurricane Rita stops dumping rain on us. I had to wait for Hurricane Ophelia to clear out of the Carolina Beach area before I could drive up to get the Montauk, and now Rita is going to stall me on putting this baby in the water! Ah well, our poor trees were looking pretty droopy from our recent lack of rain, so I guess I can wait a few days.

I enjoyed Pat Thomas park (see report below) so much that I am thinking of taking the Montauk there for its maiden voyage. It's a gorgeous boat--seems to go on forever, though it's only two feet longer than my 14' Mystic (which will always be #1 boat here).

Stand by for Rita to pass and the Montauk to show me what it can do.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Lake Talquin from Pat Thomas Park

I decided to check out this access to Lake Talquin. Pat Thomas Park is about 10 miles from the Quincy, FL, exit on I-10. I chose this place since I am going to be taking up tent camping this fall, and so I am now interested in paddling places near campgrounds.

This is a great little park! Nice boat ramp next to the tent areas; RV sites are across the park road. Lake Talquin surrounds this park on three sides, so everyone has a lake view. The boat ramp leads to a small cove, which opens into the 8800-acre lake.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Today turned out to be my best in-Florida paddling trip of the year so far (Lake Santeetlah in NC still tops the list, see an earlier entry in this blog). The lake was flat and remarkably free of power boats. I was on it for 90 minutes before I saw the first one, and only saw three in the 4 hours I was out.

The shoreline is mostly Lake Talquin State Forest land, and so it is very woodsy, with no properties or docks, etc., except a few scattered here and there. When I left the boat ramp I went to the right first. The first thing of note happened as I was going into a very small cove area. Across the way I heard some splashing and I looked over and saw a sandy portion of the edge with something splashing on it. I thought at first it must be a duck or other shore bird bathing. But in fact there was a female deer with a very, very small baby deer with her at the water's edge. This baby was days-old small, and it was running around--no, not "running around," it was cavorting--on the water's edge, jumping in and leaping out and running in circles. It looked like a puppy playing in the water. It was having a great time. It was so small! Too far away to photograph, though. I stopped padding and glided in that direction, smiling like an idiot watching this baby deer play in the water. Then the mother saw me. They didn't dart away, she just walked slowly back into the woods, with the baby of course following. It was very cool. I never see deer when I paddle.

So I continued on my way. Nice easy paddle along the shoreline. Then I came to another cove, so of course I went into it. And it went on. And on. And on. It was very pretty in there.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I finally got out of the boat and had a snack along the bank, but I didn't linger. After I came out of the long cove, I got to a totally different shoreline. All of a sudden it was marshy, with moorhens and coots and grasses along the edge--very weird to have it change so abruptly.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Trees growing up out of the water and a low marshy shoreline with just grass and reeds. I then came to the end of the lake and to continue on I would have to paddle a long time next to a manmade rocky bank supporting a road, very boring. So I turned around.

A great blue heron, or perhaps more than one, kept flying just ahead of me for all of today. I'd get to it, it would squawk and fly a little farther ahead. This was repeated the whole trip.

I reached the park and went on in the other direction for awhile, accompanied by the great blue heron. I came to a bunch of houses and the end of the lake in that direction. Had I started that way first, I could have just gone across and continued in a non-populated area, but I decided to turn around and just head back. It was a tad warm out today.

On the way back I heard something running in the woods. I stopped paddling and just glided silently. I saw--yes--two spotted deer running around, apparently playing since they were staying in the same area, just chasing each other in circles. Way too far in to get a picture, but more deer! And this was in the middle of the afternoon! How many must be there first thing in the morning?

A few minutes later I came to a relatively open section, where the great blue heron unexpectedly flew off a tree branch overhanging the river, which caught my eye. And there behind it was....another deer! This one trotted into the woods. I watched it as I glided parallel to it. It was pretty close to the water. This was a full adult female. It was close enough that I turned the camera on and zoomed the lens and held it up so as to minimize the movement if I could get a picture of it. It looked like I might have a chance at a clearing just ahead. But as we both approached the clearing, she saw me and went running into the woods.

As I approached the boat ramp, the ever-present great blue heron flew past me and landed on the pier next to the ramp. It seemed unusually interested in something in the reeds next to the pier. I assumed it was a fish; its interest in that prevented it from noticing how close I was getting. And then a small gator swam out from the reeds and passed under the pier. Ah, that's what it was looking at...

After flying away from me all day, the heron (ok, fine, it was probably a different heron altogether) seemed to not mind my proximity, giving me a chance to get some good pictures of it. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This was an excellent day; I look forward to getting back to this area. When the daytime temps drop to the balmy, comfortable mid-80's (rather than 96, as it was today) or below, it will be even better, and I will pack up the tent and spend the night so I can get out on the lake first thing in the morning. This is a really nice little park, I highly recommend it as a day trip or overnight destination.

Stand by for the next trip.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Suwannee River, White Springs, FL

I have been watching the Suwannee River water level and discharge for a year since the hurricanes last summer. Both readings have been very high, too high to paddle. And then last night--surprise! It's back to normal. So of course I had to go.

Got to the big Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park--whatever they call it--in White Springs at 10:00. It's huge, with a museum, gift shop, craft something-or-other, playground, campground, cabins, and it's on the Suwannee. They have a "canoe launch."

After checking out the campground (all RV sites), I went to the "canoe launch." The park sits high above the river. When I got to the launch, which was not included in ANY of the direction signs, such as the cabins and picnic area and Gazebo were, I found that there is a nice paved (with stone) car-width path, complete with turnaround area, that leads down to the water. And that they have blocked this to vehicle traffic.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I walked down to see how far I would have to go to get to the river. A LONG way. Luckily, I had my Paddleboy kayak cart in the car. The other thing is that you have to unload here, WAY away from the river, and then park near the Gazebo, which is over 1/10 of mile away down a nicely bricked path.



Image hosted by Photobucket.com



This is the view from the unloading area to the parking area. So you have to get your boat and gear down a long paved, driveable but blocked hill, walk back up the hill, then take your car an unusually long way away to park it, then walk back down the brick road and back down the paved ramp to get to the boat. Heaven forbid you forget something that's in your car once you get back to the boat. While I was checking out the water and current, a park employee came down. He said the river has dropped more in the past 6 weeks than he has ever seen it. Works for me.

I am in good shape, it was early (well, by the time I finished with all this it was 11:00), so fine--it's inconvenient but not a real problem. I have sorely missed paddling on this river.

The first 30 minutes were pretty bad. Faster current than I anticipated (this is not exactly where the measuring station is), with many small underwater springs, which act like whirlpools in reverse and push the bow around. I was almost ready to turn around but decided to go a little farther.

Good thing I did! It got wonderful. It's a little creepy after being used to the crystal-clear Wacissa to be on a river where the bottom cannot be seen, the depth and underwater debris cannot be gauged. But the banks are so utterly, utterly different from the Wacissa and Wakulla, and even Lake Talquin. It's the Suwannee! After awhile the current went down to almost nothing and I was very happy. Lots of traffic noise for the first hour, though. And no wildlife. This is a river rich in scenery but poor in animals, at least at mid day.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Ok, so here's where it gets interesting. Up ahead was a sandbar.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I planned to get out at the sandbar and have a snack. As I approached it, I noticed that the water was moving VERY, VERY fast to the left--the way to the right was blocked by trees, and so the river narrowed considerably and the water was moving, at the risk of being redundant, very fast. When I got out, I looked upriver and it seemed like it widened again immediately and went back to normal. I had my snack. It was pretty (the view, not the snack).



Image hosted by Photobucket.com



So I decided that I would take a run at the fast water, and if I failed, then I would just go back downriver. It took me an hour to get here--short trip, but if I couldn't paddle up through the very fast moving water, then forget it.

Paddle, paddle, paddle!! It wanted to take me into a bunch of tree branches, and ruddering and sweep stroking to get away from those cost me forward momentum. Paddlepaddlepaddle! Made it!!!

Ok, fine, it went back to normal. I've had this happen before and going downstream through it has never been a problem--it was fairly wide and short in the fast part and so that wasn't much of a concern.

A little way upstream I encountered 2 canoes with 3 people in each, all about 60-ish. One had a man at the stern and two women, the other had three women. I said to the first boat people, "You are coming to a VERY fast section, but if you get through it, there's a nice sandy island to the left to get out." This was the boat with three women. One of them said "Faster than we're going now?" I said yes, much faster. She looked nervous so I said it wasn't whitewater or anything (there actually is a dangerous area in this vicinity called Big Shoals, Florida's only whitewater), it was just fast. Then I came to the second canoe. They had heard this and they asked which way should they go? I told them they wouldn't have any choice, and I said they would be fine in a canoe.

They went on, I went on. I listened. I first heard nothing, then I heard the distant gabble of people talking. Then people talking a little more excitedly. Then a loud and prolonged splash...the type you might associate with people falling in the water. I stopped paddling, wondering if I should go back. What could I do? However, I did have my cell phone with me. Then I heard someone say "Are you ok?" and I heard a woman say "Yes!" so I figured they had it covered. I went on.

It was so pretty. Lots of minimal current. After an hour and 45 minutes from put-in, the current picked up again so I decided to turn around. That was enough.

I had noted where the fast water was, right after the steps leading to a sign for the Suwannee Valley Campground (full hookups!) As I approached the fast water, I could swear I heard voices..... As I got closer, getting myself in position to zoom through it, I saw something....new....against those tree branches I had barely avoided on my way up. Is that...? It looks like..... It is. It's a sideways canoe, smashed up against the debris in the middle of the fast water. In fact, the entire bottom of the canoe was literally smashed, bent in.

I go through the fast place straight as an arrow (gotta love the Mystic). On the other side of the fast water, sitting on the island, are two of the women from the 3-woman canoe. I said "Well, you GUYS...."

"You told us about it, but we messed up anyway..." said one of them.

I said I was coming over to take a breather and sit with them, and maneuvered around to where I could get out. I went over and sat on the sand with them. Then I noticed that the third woman was all the way across the river, sitting on that bank. I asked "What happened?"

The one I was talking to said that it just came up faster than they thought and they got turned sideways so of course they tipped when they hit the branches. They lost 2 cameras, a beach towel, and she lost her shoes. Those two went to the left in the river, the other woman went right and got swept a bit downstream before she could get out and walk back to right across from where they were. Apparently the canoe with the guy in it made it through, and they had gone on to get out at the park and get help. Their canoe was there when I got out, no sign of them.

So I sat and talked with the women for awhile about this and that. They had rented the canoes, they were doing a float, only going the one way.

After a while I headed on out, back downstream. They had said that they had passed a 6' gator shortly before the fast water (that must have come back to them while they were in the water!).


I got back and did all the necessary stuff to get the kayak loaded in the car.

I don't think I will go there again for any reason--they have made it too hard and impractical as a paddling place. But this was still interesting!

New word on the Wakulla is that the edges are now clear, though the middle is still murky. Maybe it won't be as long as thought to clear up completely.

In other news, I am adding an Impex Montauk to my "fleet." I had hoped to go pick it up later this week, but it's in coastal NC, and Ophelia is just hovering endlessly right off the shore, thwarting those plans.

Stay tuned for New Kayak news and another paddling trip. The weather is cooling, I have several new destinations selected.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wacissa River

Back to the Wacissa after being away awhile due to work and the rising price of gas. But it was time to get back out and do some paddling!

This time I went around Cedar Island, which added enough distance to the trip to make this a 4-hour day instead of my usual 3 on this river. I didn't get out on the island, I had gotten out at the ramp ahead of it and stretched my legs. It's so pretty around this island that it's worth the extra distance and the stronger current.



Image hosted by Photobucket.com



Pretty hard to tell what you're looking at, but that's the island straight ahead. I went around to the left.

On the way back upriver I came to more female wood ducks. In fact, over the course of today, I saw about 15 females and not one male.


Image hosted by Photobucket.com




Image hosted by Photobucket.com



Two powerboats were on the river and 4 other paddlers--otherwise it was very quiet. The current was strong down around Cedar Island, but minimal closer to the ramp at the headspring, as is usually the case.

Saw the usual herons and egrets and limpkins, and several very small, young gators. And an ibis.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Got back to the ramp at about 2 pm. Two women paddlers arrived from the river shortly afterwards and we started talking. One of them was from Wilderness Way, a kayak sales and rental place in Tallahassee. She admired my Mystic--always nice to hear from someone in the business! We talked about camping matters and boats for a short time and then loaded up and left.

Thanks to Ed Pope for linking to this blog on his book site as well as their gift site! I appreciate it.

Oh--I have a Wakulla River update. I spoke with someone at TnT Hideaway, the canoe and kayak rental place on the river at the Hwy. 98 bridge. It seems that Dennis took out all the underwater grasses from the river, which acted as natural filters for the water. As a result, the bottom got all stirred up (and the current increased with nothing to stop it). Without any grasses, the tide just keeps stirring and stirring the muddy water as it comes in and goes out. The guy at the rental place said he thought it would likely be next summer some time before it got anywhere near back to normal--the grasses have to grow back. Great. I'll miss it this winter--the best birds hang out there in winter. Of course, it still can be paddled, but it's just not the same with the water so muddy and the current so fast.

Trips are getting fewer and farther between these days but stand by for the next one, whenever and wherever that may be.