Another delightful day in paradise this past Saturday for our last trip on the Ichetucknee (Itch-a-TUCK-nee) before they open it up to tubing for the summer. We’ll go back after Labor Day.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Ichetucknee, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, then entire river within the state park is open to tubing and the state park runs a shuttle bus to haul people from bottom to top. We do not recommend boating during this time because of the bank-to-bank inner tubes floating slowly downstream. And, of course, with a thousand or more kids on the river all screaming, splashing and having fun you will see virtually no wildlife. Also, the last take-out within the state park is closed to personal vehicles, so you have to rely on the park concessionaire to transport you and your kayak back to your cars at the north end. And there are very few concessionaires I trust to transport my kayak — too many scratches and gouges by inattentive handling. But if you have an old beat-up kayak it would probably be ok.
After Labor Day weekend tubing is banned from the upper half of the river to allow the vegetation to regenerate and the shuttle only runs on weekends. So during the week, while you can still tube the lower half of the river, you will have to walk between the last take out and the mid-point or bring two cars to provide your own shuttle. As a result, during the week we rarely see more than a few tubers, mostly adults on a lazy float, and lots of wildlife.
The upper stretch of the river is narrow and winding with a few downed trees. Nothing major and easy to get around them.
Nice descriptive shot of the bluff area on the middle section of the river. Lots of little caves in the limestone.
More turtles on Saturday than on the Wednesday trip – all of them Cooters.
Crystal clear water at Dampier Landing for your swimming please. Deeper water here (the green) is well over my head.
Great Blue Heron on the prowl near the Last Takeout.
A Great Horned Owl keeping a watch on us.
Great kayak trip yesterday on one of our favorite “rivers” — the Ichetucknee (Itch-a-TUCK-nee) under perfect blue skies. We started just outside the head spring in Ichetucknee Springs State Park and continued 5 miles to the end where it joins the Santa Fe River. Then we continued about 5 miles down the Santa Fe to Lemmons Park at US 129.
We didn’t see many birds this trip, but we did come across what we think is a beaver lodge (We’ve seen beaver “gnawings” on previous trips), bunches of Alligator Lilies, a little bunny nibbling on stream-side vegetation, watched a green anole getting a drink at lunch time, saw two beautifully patterned Brown Water snakes (non-poisonous), some Giant Swallowtail butterflies and thousands of damselflies. Also had a great time wading and swimming in the crystal clear water during our lunch break on the Ich.
Coasting down the middle Ichetucknee under blue skies and fluffy clouds.
Beaver lodge on the Ich. Once exterminated in Florida, beavers are gradually moving back down into the state.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) and Cooter (Pseudemys spp)
A little marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris) munching tender plants along the river bank.
Broadwing Damselfly – one of thousands attracted to the brightly colored kayaks.
Alligator Lily (Hymenocallis palmeri)
Giant Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) “puddling” on the river bank.
Green anole (Anolis carolinensis) getting a drink on the dock at Dampier Landing.
Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilot). We saw on sunning on a log and this one taking a swim.
The Ichetucknee meets the broader Santa Fe River.
Wonderful paddle on the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers today. A nice group of 12 kayaks on our trip. The weather and water were perfect for this late summer day.
We put in at the north entrance of Ichetucknee Springs State Park and took out at Guy Lemmons Park boat ramp at US 129 with a lunch break at the south take-out within the state park. The first 5-6 miles on the Ichetucknee River features a swift current and crystal-clear water. Once you turn onto the Santa Fe the river is wider and more tannic.
Ghosting down the narrow Ichetucknee in the early morning sun.
The Santa Fe is wider, browner and hosts more power boats, so we stick to the sides.
The Cardinal Flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) are in bloom, attracting butterflies.
Water-eroded caves in the limestone blades.
Great Egret on the Ichetucknee
Beautiful Cooter sunning on a log.