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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ichetucknee River - Manatees! - March 26, 2014

Ichetucknee River, March 26, 2014           Miles Traveled 3.9, Total 271.3
High 61 degrees, slightly cloudy day
High Springs to Mid Point Dock 2.9 miles, Average Moving Speed 1.7 mph, Max Speed 3.5
MidPoint Dock to Dampers Landing Dock, about 1 mile
Me, Scotty, Dina, Dick

The Ichetucknee River was only about 15 minutes from our campsite, once we figured out where the north entrance of the park was, and not the south entrance.  We drove into the state park and paid $5 per person using the honor system.    There wasn't a ranger around to ask questions, so we drove through the woods and found the canoe launch.  Dina and I took the yaks down a steep hill that had a wooden ramp.   The guys took one car to the take out.  When they came back, we started off on a very leisurely float.  This river has a 1 mile per hour current and we knew it would be a short paddle, so we floated most of the time.  It was a very quiet, peaceful river.  We passed perhaps 6 people and no houses.  In the summer, we had read that there is a line of cars and people to get into this park to go tubing.  There is even a tram to transport the people to the river.  I know I enjoyed our day much more having the river to ourselves.  We saw lots and lots and lots of turtles and I took lots of pictures.  The turtles were huge.  We didn't tire of seeing the turtles out sunning themselves.  At one point we were photographing a group of about 5 turtles, and Dina said, "What's that under my boat?"  We looked and saw large, gray shapes - manatees!  There were 5 of them.   They paddled up to our boats and swam all around us.  It was at this point when my camera decided to die.  I quickly got out my iPhone and prayed that this wouldn't be the day I went in because of a large manatee tipping my boat.  We loved it and couldn't believe our luck.  We did not even think we'd see manatees in this river, as we had been expecting them the day before.  Scotty got an excellent headshot when he simply stuck the camera in the water and snapped.  They finally swam back under the seaplanes and we sadly traveled on.  We went a mile to what we thought was the take-out.  Scotty and Dick walked almost half a mile to the parking lot, and once there Dick couldn't find his keys.  Scotty gave his keys to Dick and Dick drove the car further down to another take-out where we wouldn't have to portage the kayaks.  Scotty towed Dick's kayak down the final mile, and during this mile we actually paddled.   We could tell that the river was higher here as the trees were very much submerged.  It was a gorgeous paddle through here.  The guys went to get the other kayak and Dina and I hung out, watching the few people come off the river.  It was slow loading as the drive was blocked by two other vehicles loading their kayaks.  We didn't mind and leisurely ate our lunch.
Scotty and I decided to make this our last paddle and headed to Atlanta for dinner at Mellow Mushroom with Ethan, then home arriving in Clarksville about 3:00 a.m.

1st Leg of Trip

Good morning.

It's a REALLY cold morning for Florida - upper 30s.

Dina spied the manatees under her kayak.

Look at this guy next to my boat.

We were so excited.  We just kept snapping pictures.

Dick reaching out into the water.

Look at them.  They're huge.  They can weight between 900-1200 pounds.

Longer than our kayaks, I think.

Truly, the highlight of our trip!

I love this picture.  Just look at the size!!!

Not only is there a lot of stuff, there's a lot of river smell :(

Under the tree.

Tennessee rivers will just never compare!  Look at how clear it is!

I think these were the turtles that led us to the manatees.

What a beautiful creature!

Rainbow Springs - Beautiful Springs - March 25, 2014

Rainbow Springs, March 25, 2014            Miles Traveled 7.9, Total Miles 267.4
Morning Route - High 74 degrees, Blue Skies
Average Moving Speed 2.0 mph, Max Speed 4.1 mph, Traveled 4.1

Afternoon Route - Average Moving Speed 2.9, Max Speed 5, Traveled 3.8
me, Scotty, Dina & Dick

From our campsite, we drove about 15 minutes.  We put in at a beautiful state park, K P State Park that had winding ramps leading down to the river.  There was a concession stand, restrooms, dock and swimming area.  The water was crystal clear and we could see plant life and fish swimming around.  As soon as we got into the river, we saw some playful otters darting in and out of the grass.  Overhead we saw a bald eagle flying.  The skies were a beautiful blue and we knew it would be an awesome day of paddling.  We went a mile and a half upstream to Rainbow Springs.  This is a state park area and we could not disembark from our kayaks along the shore, unless we had gotten out before the barriers. We chose to paddle around.  There is a roped off area with a swimming area and there were lots of swimmers and snorkelers the day we were there.  We paddled around looking down into the crystal clear water and took lots of pictures once again.  The water is surrounded by a beautifully landscaped park.  We took off our watershoes, sunned our legs and discovered it's nice to paddle around barefoot!   We paddled back to K P Park and had lunch on the dock.  Scotty and Dick took 1 car down to River Run Park, came back and we all paddled downstream.  We saw many different styles of homes and it was apparent that this river does not flood as they were built very close to the water and not up on stilts.  It was another beautiful day of paddling and we saw many birds and lots of turtles.
After paddling, we drove an hour and a half to O'Leno State Park.  It was nearly dark when we got there, so we set up our tent quickly and made dinner.  Dick and Dina arrived later and set up their tent.  We didn't have much time to sit around and got into our tents quickly.  It was cold and actually got down to 37 degrees during the night.  We had noisy neighbors celebrating a birthday that kept us awake for awhile, along with a dripping water faucet outside our tent.  It's amazing how the littlest sound at night in a campground can seem so much louder.  Even with all of that, I slept great this night. But, the next morning, I was VERY reluctant to get out of bed!

Morning Route - Started at K P Park and went upstream to Rainbow Springs
Afternoon Route - Started at K P Park and went down river

So this is what a car looks like after a few days of a kayak/camping adventure.

K P State Park - Beautiful dock, swimming area, kayaks, concession stand, restrooms.

Ready for another day!

The bright blue areas are springs below the river.

Rainbow Springs State Park

Sunning our lily white legs :)

Dina and Dick Wilkins

Yes, I love kayaking!

Docked for lunch.

Bald eagle high overhead.

I had a passenger for awhile.

This inlet off of the river had beautiful ferns on the banks.

Enjoying the sun.

These birds (cormorants I think) were making a huge ruckus!

Cypress trees everywhere!