Ocklawaha River – March 11, 2017

Another great paddle and a wonderful group of 13 paddlers on the Ocklawaha River.  Today we picked up were we left off last Wednesday, starting at Gores Landing Park and taking out at Eureka West boat ramp – 9.2 miles by my GPS.

We met up at Gores Landing County Park.  This is a little used (no RV hook-ups), pretty little park with a sandy boat launch area, a few campsites, toilets, and a campground host.  There is a $5 day parking fee or a $10 per night camping fee.  After unloading and prepping the boats we drove all the cars up to Eureka West boat ramp and returned in a couple of cars to Gores.

Getting ready at the hand launch at Gores Landing County Park

Getting ready at the hand launch at Gores Landing County Park

 

 

The group of 13 that turned out today was motivated to paddle!  In fact we paddled almost 7 miles in 2 hours before stopping for lunch, leaving less than 2.5 miles left to paddle in the afternoon.  The river here is fairly narrow and gently winding.  There are enough downed and sunken trees that few motorboats frequent this stretch and those that travel are people fishing who move slowly. In places the tree canopy joins across the water creating a cathedral-like appearance.

The Middle Ocklawaha with spring trees and blue skies

The middle Ocklawaha, fairly narrow and gently winding

The Ocklawaha with spring foliage under a bright blue sky

The Ocklawaha with spring foliage under a bright blue sky

The water was cloudier today than on Wednesday.  We could still see the sandy bottom in places but there was a lot of suspended particles in the water lowering the visibility.  Perhaps because of this we did not see as many birds today.  A lone White Egret, a single Red-shouldered Hawk, a few White Ibis and Limpkin, and a female Kingfisher that eluded every camera.   But we saw more small gators (under 5 feet) as well as Cooters and Sliders sunning on logs.

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

A Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly (Argia sedula) that landed on my kayak

A Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly (Argia sedula) that landed on my kayak

A little gator - about 4.5 feet

A little gator – about 4.5 feet

An itty bitty gator - about 8 inches long.

An itty bitty gator – about 8 inches long. I’m sure Mama Gator was hiding in the vegetation nearby, but we never saw her.

Our treat for today happened at lunchtime.  We stopped at Piney Island Landing, after asking permission of the couple car camping there, and found it full of wildflowers.

Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

I think these are Maryland Golden Aster (Chrysopsis mariana)

I think these are Maryland Golden Aster (Chrysopsis mariana)

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia).  Such a pretty flower I think deserves a more special name.

From Piney Island it was only about an hour to our take out at Eureka West boat ramp.  We found a couple of survey takers there from the University of Florida doing a study on the local economic impact of recreational boating and after answering their questions we loaded up the kayaks and headed home.

Fishing dock at Eureka West

Fishing dock at Eureka West

Just another beautiful spring day in the paradise of north Florida!

Rounding a bend in the Ocklawaha

Rounding a bend on the Ocklawaha