Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kayaking Wekiva River & Rock Springs Run with Gators!

I finally got the kayak back in the water for the first time this year!

Gator on Wekiva River

It's been 11 months since I have been to Wekiva Springs State Park & Rock Springs Run. (Read about my last trip, here.)  Last time, I forgot to put a memory card in my camera, and didn't have many pictures to share. This time, I didn't make that mistake.

Pelican Apex 100 & Coleman Drifter kayaks

My Dad & I got off to a late start this morning due to the cool weather overnight. With our cooler full of drinks, and subs we headed to Wekiva Springs State Park a little before 10:30am. The park was pretty quiet for a weekend. We were on the water at 10:40am. Today's goal: see 10 gators.

Right off the bat we saw 3 small gators sunning on a log in the lagoon.

sunning gators

The turtles were out catching some rays too...

Another gator... and we haven't even made it out of the lagoon yet!

Moving on to the Wekiva River, and what do we see?  Another gator.  #5 of the day!

And while we are on the topic of gators, how about a giant snapping turtle?  Not a great photo because it was on the move, but this thing was big.

I wonder what this gator is thinking?  Turtle stew?  

All these gators must have scared this little turtle...

Look!  Another gator.  #7 of the day.

It pays to get out on the water early to beat the crowds on the weekends. Later in the day the Wekiva River will be packed with tourists in canoes going around in circles, and running in to everything.

About half a mile downstream from the Wekiva Springs State Park launch site on the left is Rock Springs Run.  If you continue down the Wekiva River further you will come to Wekiva Island (a good place to stop for a beer).  I usually take a left, and head against the current up Rock Springs Run. The upstream paddle is a good workout, but you will be rewarded with a nice float out on your return trip.

Dad managed to find (and get stuck on) almost every underwater log on the water today. Hahaha!

On our way up to Otter Campsite (our turn around point), we saw this sign. I believe this is the 6 mile marker for those who put in upstream at King's Landing. I'd like put in up there one day, but the launch fee from King's Landing, and the shuttle fee back from Wekiva Island are too much for this cheapskate.

There were a few fallen trees that might cause problems for anyone paddling a canoe, but we were able to slide over one, and duck under another without portaging.

We made it to Otter Camp, but it was occupied by some hardcore campers. I'm not sure how they hauled all that gear to the campsite. After a short chat with the campers we turned around, and took advantage of the current to carry us back downstream back towards the Wekiva River.

Since the campsite was full we stopped on the way back at this unofficial site for lunch, and a much needed stretch. This site isn't listed on the map.

Time to sit back, and relax while the current takes us back down Rock Springs Run...

We only saw one gator on Rock Springs Run. It was bigger than Dad's kayak, and walked along the bottom  right under the kayak deep into the weeds... I didn't get a picture of it, but it was huge!  Big gators are very territorial, which explains why we didn't see any other gators in the area.

Meanwhile back on the Wekiva River... Tourists going in circles, and running into everything.

If they could control their canoes for a while, they might see a gator...

Or two...

More turtles...

More gators...

Look closely. There is a good size gator in this next picture.

(click to enlarge)

Back in the lagoon at Wekiva Springs State Park...

(Note to Self: Invest in a kayak cart. The long trip up the canoe trail to the parking lot is killer.)

The total gator count for the day was 13 today!  Not a bad day on the water.

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