We made a trip down to Crystal River, FL today. Our primary mission was to see about repairs on a couple of our Swift paddles and elicit some repair advice from Aardvark’s Florida Kayak Company, but we did a little 2-hour paddle in the afternoon after visiting both kayak shops in town.
Starting from Crystal River Kayak Company’s dock ($5 launch fee and they also have rentals) we paddled out to Three Sisters Springs. Three spring vents in a little grotto off a maze of man-made canals lined with houses, the grotto is now part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. The water is about 25-30 feet deep in these pics. We saw one manatee cruising the area.
Paddling under the road to get to the springs
Floating above Three Sisters Springs
Manatee in Three Sisters Springs
Manatee in Three Sisters Springs
Snorkling in Three Sisters Springs
Underwater shot of the deepest of the spring vents.
Another day on the water. What can I say? It’s great living in paradise with water all around! This time a stretch on the Ocklawaha River near Ft McCoy, Florida. We paddled from Gores Landing County Park ($5 parking fee) to Eureka West boat ramp – about 9 paddling miles.
We saw a couple of young gators, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Yellow-bellied Sliders, Pileated Woodpeckers, 2 Great Horned Owls, lots of Pickerelweed and Water Hemlock, and Coreopsis. And a gazillion dragonflies and damselflies. At one point I counted 47 damselflies just on the bow section of my red kayak!
We shared a great lunch afterwards at the Gold Skillet on CR 316 in Ft McCoy.
Floating down the Ocklawaha River
Young gator – about 5 foot – sunning on a log
Blue-fronted Dancer Damselfly (Argia apicalis)
Gray-green Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus pallidus)
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) A beautiful Florida native aquatic plant
Closeup of Pickerelweed
A Sunday trip was on the upper Suwannee River with a group of friends. The first section of the river inside Florida – Roline Landing to Cone Bridge Rd boat ramp.
An absolutely gorgeous day for paddling – blue skies contrast against brilliant white sand bars, creamy limestone bluffs draped with ferns at seep springs, massive Ogeechee tupelo with their snaking roots and stately cypress lining the banks.
The Ogeechee Tupelo trees can be found along the Suwannee down to White Springs, then they disappear. In April and May their white blossoms are covered with bees – so many you can hear a low hum all along the river. In Florida the tree can also be found along the Apalachicola, Oclocknee, and Chipola rivers. Ogeechee (white) tupelo honey is highly prized as it is the only honey that will not crystallize. And because of the specific ratio of different sugars, it’s the only honey diabetics can eat. Biologists estimate it takes two million Tupelo tree flowers to produce one pound of honey and one honeybee produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon in its lifetime. The mature fruit, known as Ogeechee lime, is made into preserves.
We paddled a short distance up a few side streams as well, ran one set of shoals – Whee ! – and stopped on many sandbars for quick swims to cool off.
Upper Suwannee River near Roline Landing.
Limestone bluffs line the shore
Ogeechee Tupelo trees
Paddling down a feeder stream back to the Suwannee
Ferns on the limestone bluffs.