Tag Archives: Silver Springs

Silver River – August 9, 2017

Another wonderful day on the Silver River leading a paddle for the Florida Trail Association.  The boat ramp at Silver Springs State Park as closed for 3 days while they replaced the geo-textile on the surface, so a last minute change was made to put-in at Ray Wayside County Park, paddle up to the head spring then paddle back to Ray Wayside via the Ft King Paddling Trail.  This turned a planned 5.2-mile newbie all-downstream paddle into a 10.8-mile trip with 5.2 miles of that distance paddling upstream against a 3 mph current.  After informing folks who had signed up about the change I had 11 people show up at the put-in, some with quite a bit of experience and some with very little.

The first cool thing on this paddle was one of the participants brought her Oru Bay folding kayak and I got to watch her convert it from a case about the size of an artist’s portfolio to a 12-foot kayak in about 15 minutes.  You can read more info on Oru kayaks HERE.

Assembling an Oru Bay origami kayak at the put-in

Assembling an Oru Bay origami kayak at the put-in

The paddle on the upstream 5.4 miles took us 4 hours, including a short break at “The Cove” and a longer lunch break at the Silver Springs State Park metal ramp near the half way point.  The trip back downstream took us a little less than 2 hours.  Not too shabby for a group with half relatively inexperienced paddlers.

Three of my paddlers had inexpensive 10-foot boats and I was a little worried about how they would do on the upstream paddle.  Short, light boats tend to track poorly, weaving from side to side with each stroke, especially with wind or current working on them. And they did have problems rounding bends when the current would catch them and shove them sideways, but they all persevered and had big smiles on their faces, so I was really proud of them.

Short boats struggling in the turns, but smiles all around.

Short little boats struggling in the turns, but smiles all around.

Fist thing when we hit the river we saw some Saltmarsh Mallows on the river banks.  They are related to the hibiscus and look like them, only smaller – 2-3 inches across compared to the Swamp Scarlet Hibiscus which is generally 6-8 inches across.  And contrary to its name, it grows very well in fresh water as well as salt water.

Saltmarsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya pentacarpos)

Saltmarsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya pentacarpos)

RED - Swamp Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

On the way up we went slowly and watched a lot of wildlife.  It seemed to be mamma and baby day on the Silver.  Gators, Gallinules, Wood Ducks, Little Blue Herons, turtles, Anhingas and their young ones, to name a few.

Mamma Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) and days-old babies

Mamma Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) and days-old babies

Baby Common Gallinule - a face only a mamma or pappa Gallinule could love.

Baby Common Gallinule – a face only a mamma or pappa Gallinule could love.

Mamma gator with one of her dozen or so babies behind her.

Mamma gator with one of her dozen or so babies behind her.

Mamma Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) and babies

Mamma Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) and babies

Baby Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) in nest

Baby Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) in nest

After the head spring we headed over to the State Park hand launch (our planned put-in) and checked out the refurbishment.  It looked pretty much the same except for some additional fencing to keep people from dropping their boats off to the side of the ramp and the addition of some rock at the end of the ramp.  ROCK!?!?  At the end of a canoe/kayak ramp?  I’ll have to ask what’s up with that when I return with my next group on Saturday!

Silver Springs State Park hand launch

Silver Springs State Park hand launch

From there we headed back downstream via the Ft King Paddling trail.  Just as we hit the river again we head some thunder in the distance and 3 of the group took off down river quickly.  So quickly, in fact, that we didn’t see them again until we hit the take-out back at Ray Wayside.  Not great for group safety, but there was no way I could catch up with them and they were some of the more experienced paddlers.  Actually,  the storm was not close, and in fact it didn’t hit on us for another 3.5 hours, so the rest of us had plenty of time to float slowly down the river, grabbing some more pictures on the way.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) displaying intensely turquoise eyes

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) displaying intensely turquoise eyes

Cooter with beautiful markings

Cooter with beautiful markings

Cormorant and Cooters

Cormorant and Cooters

Baby Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) in nest

Baby Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) in nest

Great Egret (Egretta alba) displaying aigrettes

Great Egret (Egretta alba) displaying aigrettes

The group had done so well I presented each of them with a Silver River sticker for their kayaks – stickers usually reserved for members of the 5-Star Yak Pak.

5-Star Yak Pak Silver River Completion sticker

5-Star Yak Pak Silver River Completion sticker

 

Silver River – June 28, 2017

A wonderful paddle yesterday on the Silver River with two friends. For one them it was the maiden voyage of her new touring kayak, for the other an opportunity to try out her new paddle. Nothing new for me, but I enjoyed the scenery.

We met up at Silver Springs State Park, unloaded the yaks at the launch then drove 2 cars down to Ray Wayside and came back in one of them.  $6 per person for admission and launch fee plus a $5 parking fee for the car we left at Ray Wayside.  We were on the water and headed downstream by about 9:30.

My friend Melanie had purchased a lightly used Eddyline Denali this morning (the one she demoed last week – see the post from 06-23-17) so this was her maiden voyage.  While owning several kayaks in her personal fleet, there was a hole in the touring department that the Denali will fill nicely for our 2- and 3-day trips.  The Denali is made of thermoformed ABS plastic, 15 feet 3 inches long, 24.5 inches wide, has a moderate V-hull, and has a lot of storage space for camping gear.  Melanie’s only worry was being able to get in and out easily, since she is used to a larger cockpit opening.  But she managed without going over at the launch and on the water she seemed to really like the new boat.  And I’m glad since I had recommended the boat to her!  Also as part of the deal Melanie acquired a new all-carbon Werner Kalliste paddle.  Going from fiberglass to carbon taking some getting used to since there is a slightly different feel, but by the end of the paddle she was really enjoying the lower swing weight.

Melanie's new Denali

Melanie’s new Denali and Kalliste at the state park launch

Melanie's new Denali

Melanie’s new Denali, already pimped out with a pinwheel

And as another part of the same deal Melanie purchased a sparkly green Wind Swift paddle for our friend Erin who had been looking for a good paddle.

Erin's new Wind Swift paddle

Erin’s new Wind Swift paddle

While the two of them were playing with their new toys I was looking for wildlife.  Nothing unusual on this paddle, just the normal things seen on the Silver River minus the monkeys who did not put in an appearance on this trip.  But I was able to get a couple of good shots of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea alba) stalking along the river bank.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

And I was able to find several sets of Mamma Wood Ducks (Aix Sponsa) with their little ones.

Mamma Wood Ducks and babies

Mamma Wood Ducks and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

As well as a little gator peeking at me from the weeds.

A little gator peeking at me from the weeds

A little gator – about 4 feet

and a beautiful immature Little Blue Heron, almost into her adult slate-blue plumage.

Immature Little Blue Heron

Immature Little Blue Heron

A colorful display of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) and Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Pickerelweed and Cardinal Flower display

Pickerelweed and Cardinal Flower display

 

 

A still life with spring and cypress

Spring vent and cypress

Lovely spring vent and cypress about half way down the river

And a couple of pics of us cruising down the beautiful Silver River

Cruising down the Silver

Another shot of the Denali in her native habitat

Enjoying the quiet beauty of the Silver River

Enjoying the quiet beauty of the Silver River

 

 

Silver River – June 23, 2017

If there is anything I like more than getting a new piece of kayaking gear it is helping a friend get new stuff.  A couple of months ago a padding buddy told me he wanted to sell his Eddyline Denali because he had ordered himself a new boat that was due to be delivered in July.  I knew the Denali would be a little high volume for me (and besides I can’t justify having two 15-foot touring kayaks in my personal fleet) but I immediately thought that it would be a great boat for my friend Melanie who enjoys doing kayaking camping as much as I do.  After a couple of other folks had demoed the boat but had not made the owner an offer I finally got Melanie to set up a demo for this morning at Ray Wayside.  We took our boats along to do a little paddle up the Silver after the demo.

We met up with Al at Ray Wayside and got Melanie in the boat.  The cockpit is smaller than she is used to so she had some trepidation about getting in and out, but after paddling it around the lagoon and up and back on the canal I could tell she liked the boat / the fit, how well it tracked and turned, the day hatch and storage space, using the skeg, etc.

Melanie trying out the Denali at Ray Wayside

Melanie trying out the Denali at Ray Wayside

All smiles as she returns to the landing.  I think she likes it!

All smiles as she returns to the landing. I think she likes it!

She came back from the paddle and they started wheeling and dealing on the price.  Al also had two paddles he wanted to get rid of, a Werner Kalliste and a Wind Swift.  While they dickered I unloaded our boats and got them ready for our paddle.  By the time I returned it was settled – the boat and 2 paddles, the Kalliste for Melanie and the Wind Swift for another member of the 5-Star Yak Pak who was looking for a good paddle.  Melanie gave Al a deposit and we’ll pick all of them up next week and take the Denali on her maiden voyage.

We loaded up our kayaks and started upstream on the Silver.  We only paddled a couple of miles, took a dip in the cool water in the cove while talking to a couple of guys in a pontoon boat anchored there, and then we coasted back down.  Not much bird life in the middle of the day but I got some flower pics in red, white and (almost) blue for the upcoming holiday.   And Melanie took a picture of me with my Dulcinea pimped out with a new pinwheel, also in red, white and blue.

RED - Swamp Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

RED – Swamp Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

String Lily - also called Swamp Lily (Crinum americanum)

WHITE – String Lily – also called Swamp Lily (Crinum americanum)

Closeup of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

BLUE (ALMOST) – Closeup of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

My Dulcinea pimped out for the upcoming holiday

My “Dulcinea” pimped out for the upcoming holiday

Little gator in the weeds

Little gator in the weeds

Wood Duck pair (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck pair (Aix sponsa)