Stage 6 of the Suwannee Quest – the YakPak’s attempt to lead the Sandhill Chapter of the Florida Trail Association in paddling all 206 miles of the Suwannee River in Florida – one piece at a time.
Hot, long, but nice paddle on the Suwannee. Had to stop every hour or so for a swim break to cool off. Such a hardship! 🙂 The water level by the White Springs gauge was 50.27 – medium low.
Since it’s too hot to camp during the summer we skipped down past all the River Camps for the summer months. We paddled the 16-mile section from Branford down to Hirsh Landing – very different from the upper Suwannee of our previous trips this spring. Lower banks, more sand than limestone, lots of oaks and black willows mixed with the cypress, more private homes and on the weekends lots of big motor boats and jet skis going fast.
A few polite boaters (mostly fishermen) slowed down for us, most of the “weekend harrys” did not. The jet skiers in particular seemed to like to stop and plow doughnuts directly opposite us. But we got to practice paddling the swells which we will need when we get close to the Gulf.
Riding the swells near our end point at Hirsh Landing. Lots of Black Willow trees (Salix nigra) along this stretch of the river.
Massive root system due to variable water level.
Red-shoulder Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) in breeding plumage.
Swim break in boat wake on a sandy beach
Another swim break at Turtle Spring. The water in this pic looks milky because it’s been churned up from lots of folks swimming – usually it is crystal clear.
Didn’t need to go to Plan B for today’s planned trip on Juniper Creek in the Ocala National Forest. The launch was open in the Recreation Area and we did the 7.2 mile trip down to SR 19 with only slightly higher than normal water level and current speed. Juniper is always loads of fun! With a fast current and so many twists and turns there was little time to take photos, but I got a few to share.
The upper section of the run is narrow and winding with crystal clear water.
Low bridge! Always lots of downed trees to maneuver over, under, around and through.
Button Bush – Cephalanthus occidentalis
A nice BIG gator – 10 feet or so. Not the big guy that lives on the Creek, but big enough!
Florida Red-bellied cooter – Pseudemys nelsoni
“The Rapids” – about 15 seconds of WHEEEEE!
During lunch on our June 8 paddle we found an osprey nest on top of a sign on Lake George. It was a really hot day – heat index over 100 – with no shade in that spot. The baby osprey are getting big, but not yet fledged. So we sat and watched the adult osprey swooping down on the water to get their legs and belly feathers wet, then returning to the nest to hover over the babies to cool them off a little. They took each baby in turn so all got a cool off and some shade then it started over again with the first baby.
Both male and female parents were there and took turns. One would swoop into the water and return to cool down the chicks, while the other would stand watch high above in the nearby trees. Then the watcher would swoop down into the water and the one on the nest would go up to stand watch.
It took us a while to figure out that this was what they were doing, but it’s really amazing what you can see when you slow down, look with open eyes and take the time to really see what you are looking at.
Adult and 2 of the 3 babies.
Adult osprey leaving nest to take cool water plunge.
Hovering over one baby.
Hovering again over the babies