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 on CR 484 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 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, across from Swampy’s and AWA, but even there you have to be early to get a spot.
We first headed upstream to see the head springs. I paddled along beside 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
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.
Break to watch the fishies
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)
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
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 down 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)
Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) feeding in the river grasses
Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) feeding along the river. We saw lots of Apple Snail eggs for them.
Mama and baby Wood Duck (Aix Sponsa)
Female Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) having a particularly bad hair day
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
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.