Category Archives: Rainbow

Rainbow River – June 10, 2017

After having to cancel the Wednesday Rainbow River paddle due to heavy rain and thunderstorms it was gratifying on Saturday to awaken to cloudy but rainless skies.  12 of us met up at K.P. Hole including 1 person on her first kayak trip and a second person on only her second trip.  We had 2 people renting kayaks from K.P. Hole while the rest of us brought our own boats.  While the renters made their arrangements, we shuttled the pickup trucks down to the Blue Run take-out and returned to start the paddle.  After our safety talk and introductions, we were on the water around 9:30.

Note:  The Blue Run parking area is rather small and does not have room for trailers.  If setting up your own shuttle on weekends, holidays or sunny days during the summer, be sure to get to get to Blue Run no later than 9 am to have any hope of getting a parking spot,  There is also parking along Pennsylvania Avenue (CR 484) west of the Blue Run parking area, but even there you have to be early to get a spot.

We first headed upstream to see the head springs.  I paddled along side the newbies, offering what I hope was good advice.  But one of the things I stress in my safety talks and really love about most of my FTA paddles is the sense of camaraderie.  Everyone knows that safety and good fellowship comes from watching out for each other, and the more experienced paddlers in the group helped the newbies as much as I did.

Looking out for each other on the river

Looking out for each other on the river

After about a mile we stopped at a little cove just inside the State Park boundary to regroup, watch the fish (usually lots of gar, sunfish and turtles), and check that everyone was doing ok.

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Break to watch the fishies

Cooters in the cove

Cooters in the cove

After a few minutes for picture taking we continued on up another 1/2 mile to the head spring for a longish break.  As we approached the head spring we saw both Scarlet Swamp Hibiscus and Pink Swamp Hibiscus in bloom as well as Sagittaria

Scarlet Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

Scarlet Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

Pink Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus grandiflorus)

Pink Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus grandiflorus)

Common Arrowhead or Duck Potato (Saggitaria latifolia) along the stream bank

Around the head spring we took a break to admire the clear waters.  Our newbies were having a lot of fun and doing just fine after the upstream paddle.

Rainbow Springs head spring

Rainbow Springs head spring

Hanging out at the head spring

Hanging out at the head spring

From the head spring it was all downhill.  We mostly floated with the current back towards K.P. Hole County Park.  Where Gissy Spring Run enters the Rainbow River it is shallow, just perfect for an early lunch and swim break.  Since several motor boats were blocking the entrance, we slithered between them in our little kayaks, paddled 200 feet or so up the spring run, then got out for our break.  About half the group walked up the run to where the gate declares private property while the rest of us just relaxed in the cool water.

Wading back down Gissy Spring Run

Wading down Gissy Spring Run

Lunch break at Gissy Spring Run

Lunch and cool-down break at Gissy Spring Run

After lunch we continued another 4 miles down the run.  We took our time, admiring the birds, taking pictures, and chatting to get to know each other.

Close encounter of the Cormorant kind - Double Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Close encounter of the Cormorant kind – Double Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) feeding in the river grasses

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) feeding along the river.

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) feeding along the river. We saw lots of Apple Snail eggs for them.

Mama and baby Wood Duck (Aix Sponsa)

Mama and baby Wood Duck (Aix Sponsa)

Female Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) having a particularly bad hair day

Female Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) having a particularly bad hair day

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Cormorant nesting tree

Cormorant nesting tree

As we entered the last mile we caught up with the morning’s tubers, but there were not enough of them to pack the water so everyone was having a good time.  As the gray skies were looking more and more leaden we picked up the pace a bit and reached our take-out at Blue Run just a little after 2 pm.  We loaded up the boats, then most of us headed to Swampy’s for a post-paddle burger and beer.  And all before it started to rain!

On the lower river, under increasingly gray skies.

On the lower river, under increasingly gray skies.

 

 

 

Rainbow River – November 9, 2016

A nice little paddle on the Rainbow River near Dunnellon, FL.  We paddled from K.P. Hole County Park upstream to the head spring in Rainbow Springs State Park then we mostly floated back downstream to the Blue Run take out on CR 484 in Dunnellon – about 7 miles total.

There are 3 things we really love about the Rainbow River, in spite of the many primate homes and summer crowds.  First, the usually crystal clear waters from head spring to the junction with the Withacoochee River just before downtown Dunnellon.  You can swim and snorkel the waters (except for the mile within the state park boundaries) and get lots of views and pictures of underwater life.

Second, no powerboats are allowed within the state park and the rest of the river is idle speed only, so the only power boats you usually see are a couple of local tour boats, river residents and fishermen and dive boats.

And third, the variety of wildlife you can see – fish, turtles, birds, gators and the occasional otter and manatee.  The wildlife is not as as sensitive to humans as most rivers, although more wary than along the Silver River.

Today was fairly warm for November, but we had gray skies with little spritzes of rain all day. Not enough rain to bother us but not the blue-sky days that make for great landscape pictures.  We figure the water and air temperature was almost the same – 72 degrees.  As a result we had the river almost to ourselves – only spotted one jon boat with fishermen all day and a total of about a dozen other kayakers in small groups.

The cypress trees are starting to look rusty and the Sweet Gum are turning orange.  Combined with the gray skies it looked like a winter day in Florida. Four out of the six in my group had never paddled the Rainbow before so we all had a good time and saw a lot of turtles and birds.

Visiting the head spring

Visiting the head spring

Winter cypress and Eel Grass

Winter cypress and Eel Grass

 

 

 

 

 

 

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Egret

Great Egret

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limpkin hunting snailson a grass raft

Limpkin hunting snailson a grass raft

Green Heron

Green Heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immature Tri-color Heron

Immature Tri-color Heron

Underwater shot of Blue Gill in a cove

Underwater shot of Blue Gill in a cove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow River – August 6, 2016

A great but rainy morning on the Rainbow River today.  With a reported “aggressive gator” hanging out around the boat ramp near K.P. Hole County Park, they have closed all swimming and tubing at both the county park and Rainbow Springs State Park.   So due to the gator scare and the off and on sprinkles all day we were one of only two cars in the parking lot at K.P. Hole!

The river was SOOOO peaceful and quiet.  Saw lots of wet birds hunkered down along the river.  There were many Anhinga and Cormorants – neither of which have oil glands – perched on stumps trying to dry out their wings.  And got to couple of pics of a Snowy Egret, which we have not seen on the Rainbow before.  Come to think of it, our last truly great paddle on the Rainbow was also on a misty morning last year.  The mist on the water and the saturation of color is just gorgeous.

Paddling in the clouds.

Paddling in the clouds.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) trying to dry his wings

And a Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) trying to dry his wings

A very wet female Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) trying to dry her wings,

A very wet female Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) trying to dry her wings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pair of Double-crested Cormorants hunkered down in the rain.

A pair of Double-crested Cormorants hunkered down in the rain.

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) on a Wood Duck box

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) on a Wood Duck box. He’s about half-way between his baby white phase and his adult blue phase.