We paddled today on the Suwannee River between Fanning Springs and Manatee Springs. The sturgeon were really jumping! One started to come up right in front of a kayak, but then apparently changed its mind.
We have seen this happen several times. They roll to the surface, eye us, then go back underwater. So it appears maybe the sturgeon do look before they leap. Of course, they can’t see a motor boat coming towards them at 25 mph, which may explain why it is power boaters who occasionally get hit by the sturgeon, sometimes suffering major injury.
Not too many power boats out today (this section is only 25-30 miles upstream from the Gulf, so ocean-going boats can come up this far) but we saw several other kayaks going up or down stream. Finished up with a nice swim and excellent BBQ ribs at Manatee Springs State Park.
Fanning Springs – up until the 1990’s a first magnitude spring, now second magnitude producing 60-65 million gallons daily.
Cypress trees with Spanish moss along the Suwannee
On the Suwannee passing New Clay Landing – nice boat launches, both powered ramp and hand launch, picnic pavilions, swimming spots and rope swing – all for free.
Manatee Springs – 1st magnitude spring pumping about 100 million gallons into the Suwannee each day.
Snorkling at Manatee Springs
Underwater shot at Manatee Springs
We had a wonderful paddle for the holiday weekend on Juniper Creek in the Ocala National Forest. We put in at Juniper Springs Recreation Area and took out at Juniper Wyaside on SR 19, dpoing our own shuttle. Shuttle service and rentals are available at the Rec Area for those without boats. They rent canoes and kayaks, but we strongly recommend kayaks since they are shorter and more maneuverable.
Juniper Creek is 7.2 miles of twists and turns and low trees on crystal clear water through a designated Juniper Springs Wilderness Area. We’re always a little sore after Juniper because of the jinking and gyring about, but we love it and return again and again. Loads of people out there today for the holiday, but once on the run they tend to spread out.
Juniper Creek is a “No-Disposables” run and they will check your coolers at the launch site. So be sure to take alone plenty of water in Nalgene or bicycle-type bottles and pack your lunch/snacks in tupperware-style containers or dry bags. Also, if you plan on doing your own shuttle, be aware that the Juniper Wayside take-out parking lot is very small – only room for about 15 cars if none of them have trailers. So on weekends and holidays, plan on having your shuttle vehicle(s) there before about 9 am in order to get a parking spot.
Narrow and twisting
Low bridge on Juniper Creek
A familiar sight on Juniper Creek, but it’s all just part of the fun
Another familiar sight, dodging fallen trees and stumps in the water
Another obstacle to negotiate
Close up of either an Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) or Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa) dragonfly attracted to a yellow kayak paddle
Nice little 5-mile trip today on the Santa Fe River today. We did the springs section from US 27 to Rum Island Park. We have a strenuous day of paddling tomorrow, so today was actually more of a float trip than a paddle trip. We visited and swam at Poe Springs, Lily Springs, and Rum Island Spring.
Cooling off at Poe Springs Park
Negotiating a shoal section. River was low today, so there were a number of shoals to be run. Only a few scratches added to the boat
White Topped Sedge (Dichromena latifolia) also called White Star Grass
Florida Red-bellied Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster) at Lily Springs
Blue-fronted Dancer Damselfly (Argia apicalis) chowing down on a smaller winged insect
Wild Turkey hen (Meleagris gallopavo) grabbing a drink in the river. Or maybe just cooling off her feet on a hot day near Rum Island