Monthly Archives: March 2015

Ocklawaha River – March 22, 2015

A great day paddling with friends.  We finished up the Ocklawaha River down to the St Johns River, which was a nice treat since we can now display an Ocklawaha sticker on our kayaks.

We put in at Johnson Field Landing boat ramp on SR 19, paddled about 5 miles down the Ocklawaha, turned south for about 1/4 mile on the St Johns River, then paddled back upstream about 5 miles on Bear Creek back to our starting point.

On the St Johns we crossed the river at Beecher Point and had lunch off the private boat dock there.  Present-day Beecher Point was once called Mount Hope.  Beecher Point extends out into the St. Johns River from the east shoreline and forms a portion of the north shore of Little Lake George.   When the Bartrams visited this site on December 28, 1765, there was an impressive Indian mound for which this location was named.  The mound no longer exists as the material was removed by the Florida Department of Transportation and used as road material during the mid- 20th Century.  Today there is a private condominium development located on the site.

The best part was the paddle upstream via Bear Creek.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous little creek, one we will paddle again.  Hardly any current, so easy upstream paddle.  Narrow, twisting (paddled 4.5 miles to travel less than 3 miles in a straight line), birds, beautiful cypress trees, and a few early spring blossoms.  And gators – one was one of the biggest we have seen in the wild.  A little longer than a 12-foot kayak!  Unfortunately it submerged before we could get pictures.  The birds seen included Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Cattle Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Osprey, and we heard a Great Horned Owl.

Paddling down the Ocklawaha

Paddling down the Ocklawaha

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newly designated Bartram Trail sign

Newly designated Bartram Trail sign.

Lunch break on the St Johns RIver. Everything was posted private property, so we just ate in the kayaks.

Lunch break on the St Johns River. Everything was posted private property, so we just ate in the kayaks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia-willow (Itea virginica) also called Sweetspire

Virginia-willow (Itea virginica) also called Sweetspire

Virginia-willow (Itea virginica), closeup of blossom.

Closeup of Sweetspire blossom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spatterdock (Nuphar advena). Also called Yellow Pond Lily - a Florida native.

Spatterdock (Nuphar advena). Also called Yellow Pond Lily – a Florida native.

Groundsel tree (Baccharis halimifolia) or commonly called just Baccharis

Baccharis (Baccharis halimifolia) or Groundsel tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paddling down the Ocklawaha

Paddling down the Ocklawaha

Ock_150322-024

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ichetucknee River – March 10, 2015

Finally!  A day back on the water.  Woke up to rain, but an hour later the sun was shining, the blue sky was opening in the gray and we were headed to the Ichetucknee River to meet two other paddlers.

When is a stream only 6 miles long called a river? I guess when it’s as free-flowing and natural as the Ich.  No manatee sightings, but the beaver have been busy.  Also saw Great Egret, Cattle Egret, a pair of Great Blue Heron, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, and American Coots.  Found Alligator lily, blackberry, and type of violet that I haven’t identified yet growing on a mossy rock.

Floating down the Ichetucknee River. With a 3 mph current and a short distance, we usually just coast and admire the scenery.

Floating down the Ichetucknee River. With a 3 mph current and a short distance, we usually just coast and admire the scenery.

A friend checking out one of the little caves the water has cut in the limestone banks.

Checking out one of the little caves the water has cut in the limestone banks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

American Coots (Fulica americana)

American Coots (Fulica americana)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 'bale' of turtles. They come out of the cold water to sun on the logs to warm up and to rid their shells of algae.

A ‘bale’ of turtles. They come out of the cold water to sun on the logs to warm up and to rid their shells of algae.

Beaver have been working on these trees. Looking close you can see their tooth marks. Last year it was only the occasional tree. Now we see these scarred trees all up and down the upper half of the river.

Beaver have been working on these trees. Looking close you can see their tooth marks. Last year it was only the occasional tree. Now we see these scarred trees all up and down the upper half of the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern blackberry (Rubus trivialis) blossom. One of 3 native blackberry species in Florida

Southern blackberry (Rubus trivialis) blossom. One of 3 native blackberry species in Florida

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Wood Violet (Viola sororia)

Common Wood Violet
(Viola sororia)

Alligator Lily (Hymenocallis palmeri) also called spider lily

Alligator Lily (Hymenocallis palmeri) also called spider lily