Well, we had a paddle planned for Juniper Creek today, but again needed to go to Plan B . Juniper was shut down Wednesday morning when we arrived (again) apparently in anticipation of bad conditions on Thursday night when we are expecting a tropical storm. Yeah, it didn’t make much sense to us either. I can understand shutting down the rentals if you expect bad weather, since most renters at Juniper have little idea of what they are getting into or how to handle a boat, but to close down the entire run due to weather conditions you are expecting in another 36-48 hours? Safety is one thing, but I think this borders on the extreme.
So, our Plan B was a leisurely paddle on the Silver River. We put in at Silver Springs State Park and paddled down the river to south of Raccoon Island, then came back up via the canoe trail. Since rain was predicted (rain is rarely NOT predicted in Florida during the summer), other than one small private eco-tour group and one state park glass-bottom boat tour, we had the river practically to ourselves. It was a wonderful 3.5-hour paddle with lots of birds, turtles and gators and we never got any rain. We finished it off with a late lunch at the sandwich shop in the park.
We had one interesting moment when a very large gator approached us on the Ft King Canoe Trail as we were headed back to the launch. We always try to give gators their space – about 30 feet or so plus always leave them an escape route to the water. Unlike the main river which is quite broad, the canoe trail is very narrow, and this gator was not giving us OUR space. A biologist friend said it was displaying territorial behavior and was on a patrol of his borders. Whatever the reason, he was way too close and the only thing we could do was freeze in the water. We have included one still of him below, plus there is a video showing how close he got to one of us on our Video page, which you can access HERE.