Tag Archives: Ocala National Forest

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juniper Creek – November 18, 2015

Back again to Juniper Creek with a second set of friends to see if we can find more Grass-of-Parnasus.  On the first trip we saw only one patch of Grass-of-Parnassus.  On this second trip 4 days later there were many patches along about a 1/2 mile stretch of the middle creek.

Large-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia grandifolia)

Large-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus.  Flowers about 2 inches across, stalks about 30 inches tall.

Closer view of Large-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia grandifolia). Florida native, Florida endanged species. Flowers about 2 inches across, stalks about 2.5 feet tall.

Closer view of Large-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus. Florida native, Florida endanged species.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No gator sightings on this trip, only a couple of Cooters out sunning in the cool weather, but there were lots of fall flowers in bloom, especially the Late Purple Aster.

Closeup of Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens)

Closeup of Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens)

Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens) was everywhere along the creek banks.

Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens) was everywhere along the creek banks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, everyone enjoyed the 20 seconds of “Wheee” running through the “rapids”.  It’s so much fun, we wish it were much longer.

Running the "Rapids"

Running “the Rapids”

Running "the rapids" on Juniper Creek

The only thing hard is stopping at the bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the end you could swear it was snowing on us.  If you click on the last picture to enlarge it you can really see the white flakes raining down on us and settling on the water.  Actually, these are Baccharis latifolia seeds blown by the breeze, not that nasty stuff Yankees start getting about this time of year.  Lots of Baccharis bushes along the last 2-3 miles of the run.

Lower creek, almost to the take-out and everyone is still smiling. Baccharis latifolia in background.

Lower creek, almost to the take-out and everyone is still smiling. Baccharis in background.

If you look closely you can see white flakes raining down on us and settling on the water.

If you look closely you can see white seeds raining down on us.

Juniper Creek – November 14, 2015

Beautiful crisp fall day for a paddle and 8 of us braved the dip in the temperature for one of the “funnest paddles” in Florida – the Juniper Creek Run in the Ocala National Forest.

Typical view on the middle section, winding around sunken trees.

Typical view on the middle section, lots of overhanging vegetation and winding around fallen trees.

Paddling past some Late Purple Aster bushes on the lower section of the river.

Paddling past some Late Purple Aster bushes on the wider lower section of the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike most rivers in Florida that are great for relaxing float trips, Juniper Creek is a narrow, shallow, twisting stream through a designated wilderness area that, depending on recent storms and water level, can include overs, unders, arounds, and throughs.  All on seven miles of crystal clear water through amazing plant life and even a tiny bit of a “rapid”.   We sometimes describe it as a roller coaster for adults.  Since the first 7 miles fall within a designed wilderness area only hand tools are allowed for its maintenance and the maintainers only clear what is essential for keeping the stream open.  And that means it looks different every time you paddle.  So we try to get out and paddle it a few times every year.

An easy "under"

An easy “under”

A little more difficult "under"

A more difficult “under”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "rapids" - about 20 seconds of "Wheeee"

The “rapids” – about 20 seconds of “Wheeee”

Lots of twists and turns on the upper creek.

Lots of twists and turns on the upper creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This trip Juniper held a very special treat for us.  We ran across a small patch of Large-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus. (Parnassia grandifolia)  It’s a Florida native, rare, and an Endangered Florida species and it is NOT a grass.  It only occurs in 4 dispersed counties in Florida and we’d never seen it before.  Very distinctive with its 5 white petals and green patterned veins.  It blooms in October/November and there was only one small patch of them.

Large-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus. (Parnassia grandifolia). We only found one small patch of them on the middle section.

Large-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus. (Parnassia grandifolia). We only found one small patch of them on the middle section.

Female sweat bee (Agepostemon, probably splendens) on a Bur-Marigold. Agepostemon are solitary, ground nesting bees. Very gentle and good pollinators.

Female sweat bee (Agepostemon, probably splendens) on a Bur-Marigold. Agepostemon are solitary, ground nesting bees. Very gentle and good pollinators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had a couple of visitors at lunch time. A  Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) and a nymph Preying Mantis (Mantodea spp.) decided to take a break with us on our boats. Jumping spiders don’t spin webs, they find their prey with their big eyes, then catch them by jumping on them. They can jump up to 50 times their body length! I guess ours was tired because he hung out on a hatch cover throughout lunch.  The Preying Mantis was on a drooping stream-side plant.  We must have shot 30 pics of the little guy (about 3 inches long) but since he wouldn’t hold still we only got 2 shots in decent focus.

This is a Daring (or White-Spotted) Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax). They don't spin webs, they find their prey with their big eyes, then catch them by jumping on them. They can jump up to 50 times their body length! I guess ours was tired because he hung out on a hatch cover throughout lunch. The metallic green below his eyes are his jaws.

Daring (or White-Spotted) Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax). The metallic green below his eyes are his jaws.

Nymph instar of preying mantis. I shot 30 pics of this little guy (about 3 inches long) but since he wouldn't hold still I only got 2 shots in decent focus.

Nymph instar of preying mantis.