Monthly Archives: September 2016

Suwannee Quest 9 – September 24, 2016

Stage 9 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.

A pleasant trip on the Suwannee River under blue skies and fluffy clouds. We paddled from Fanning Springs to Manatee Springs.  Other than the two springs at the beginning and end there are no other springs to explore on this section of the river, but a couple of nice beach areas for picnic and leg-stretch breaks to swim and cool off.  Great weather, wonderful companions, cool water, a few leaping sturgeons, and not many power boats. What more could a kayaker ask for?

New and old kayaking friends setting off under blue skies near Fanning Springs.

New and old kayaking friends setting off under blue skies near Fanning Springs.

A kaleidoscope of colorful kayaks under fluffy clouds near Manatee Springs.

A kaleidoscope of colorful kayaks under fluffy clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch break at Andrews WMA dock.

Lunch break at Andrews WMA dock.

Silhouette of Great Egret against the blue sky near Manatee Springs

Silhouette of Great Egret against the blue sky near Manatee Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata L.) near Andrews WMA

Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata L.) near Andrews WMA

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) with Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) with Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

 

Juniper Creek – September 21, 2016

A sweet return to Juniper Creek spring run in the Ocala National Forest for the YakPak.  We saw our first hint of fall color of the year in a little Sweet Gum tree near the end and one little gator and a few turtles.

Most of the downed trees have been breached after last month’s tropical storm, but we did find a newly fallen oak tree that took the 4 of us about 3/4 of an hour to work our way through it.  We cleared and broke off what branches we could because we knew there was a canoe coming down after us, but with no real tools we couldn’t do a good job.  Had to get out of the kayaks into waist- to chest-deep water to work the kayaks, then our bodies under and over the trunks and limbs and through the entangling vines.  The Rec Area knows about it and it should be opened up by the weekend, but if you are going out there Thursday or Friday plan on being a little late!

The shallow and twisting upper run.

The shallow and twisting upper run.

Upper section of the run.

Upper section of the run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The middle section generally has more obstacles.

The middle section generally has more obstacles.

And the lower section is wider and more open.

And the lower section is wider and more open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little gator in the bushes.

Little gator in the bushes.

Just a little bit of fall color at the end.

Just a little bit of fall color at the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now a few pics of us working our way through the tree on the middle section.  While unexpected and tiring and took a lot of team work, it was not dangerous.  We know Juniper Creek very well and kind of expect the unexpected on this creek.  We actually had quite a bit of fun!  Got a little water on the camera lens, tho.

Overview shot of the trees blocking the entire creek.

Overview shot of the trees blocking the entire creek.

Starting to work our way in.

Starting to work our way in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working boat #3 through

Working boat #3 through

Working boat #4 through. (Notice the big smiles.)

Working boat #4 through. (Notice the big smiles.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the boats through, now only 2 people to get over the last trunk and through the underwater grape vines.

All the boats through, now only 2 people to get over the last trunk and through the underwater grape vines.

Last one through is a rotten egg!

Last one through is a rotten egg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers – September 17, 2016

Another trip on the Ichetucknee River today for Florida Trail.  This time we put in at the north launch in the state park and took out at Lemmons Park (US 129) on the Santa Fe River – about 10 miles.   We saw lots of birds today but no otters.  Only a few other kayakers/SUPers on the river but a humongous Boy Scout troop from GA was tubing. We got to practice our slalom moves for about a mile. 🙂

The new steps at the “Last Takeout” are horrible for kayakers and tubers alike because the rocks and deck are getting very slippery and water is now deeper – seems with the redesign of the take-out the current is now scouring away the sand in front of the steps.  Water is too deep for a lot of people to exit into the water (thigh-deep on me) and the first step is too shallow to exit as you would at a dock – and a lot of people don’t know how to exit at a dock.  Our group all managed to get out there without mishap (our lunch break) but we had to help 2 other people get out of their rental kayaks.  However, the butterflies like it, they were out in force puddling on the new steps.

Update:  After a series of several email exchanges with the state park voicing my safety concerns I got a response.  1. They are putting down a better non-skid surface on the steps that should be done by the end of the month.  (Good news!)  2. They will be adding several hand rails down the steps so people can pull themselves up and steady themselves.  (Good news for tubers, bad news for boats since it adds obstructions to be negotiated.)  3)  A boat launch of some kind is planned for the future.  They couldn’t tell me when, just that it was “a priority”.  So if you hear or see anything, let me know.  And until the boat launch is put in we may paddle there ourselves, but we will not be leading any trips on the Ich.  As deep as the water is getting, there’s just too much chance of people getting hurt there which means too much personal liability for us as volunteers.

Under or around? Which ever floats your boat.

Under or around? Which ever floats your boat.

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus). Saw quite a few of them today as well as several Great Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, at least 4 Red-shouldered Hawks, several Pileated Woodpeckers a roost of Black Vultures, and a couple of Belted Kingfishers.

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus). Saw quite a few of them today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

Mullet in Devils Eye Spring. The mullet are perhaps 6-8 inches underwater and water here is about 4 feet deep. Almost like looking through glass.

Mullet in Devils Eye Spring. The mullet are perhaps 6-8 inches underwater and water here is about 4 feet deep. Almost like looking through glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly puddling on the Last Takeout steps. We also saw Black Swallowtail, Sulphur, and Brown Skipper there. The Sulphurs were all over the run since they seem to be attracted to the Cardinal Flower blooms.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) Butterfly puddling on the Last Takeout steps. We also saw ulphur, and Brown Skipper there. The Sulphurs were all over the run since they seem to be attracted to the Cardinal Flower blooms.

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) puddling on the Last Takeout steps

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) puddling on the South Takeout steps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all made it through the RR tunnel upright !

We all made it through the RR tunnel upright !

Still crystal clear water, even 5 miles from the spring.

Still crystal clear water, even 5 miles from the spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Santa Fe is darker with more tannin, a lot wider and has heavy boat traffic on the weekend.

The Santa Fe is darker with more tannin, a lot wider and has heavy boat traffic on the weekend.

An immature Double-crested Cormorant

An immature Double-crested Cormorant.