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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!

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