Monday, September 14, 2009

Suwannee River State Park (again)


We had such a good time here last week-end that we decided to come back again.

We wanted to stay at another site that we thought maybe we could get satellite reception, but it was booked. Back to site 10 again.

When we made reservations, the weather forecast was good. By the time we got ready to go, the forecast had changed and rain was predicted all weekend.

We got an early start Saturday morning, cloudy skies but no rain. I was extremely tired by the time we got there due to lack of sleep the night before. A nap was sounding real good and Al didn't object. By the time we had lunch, got set up, it was raining. Kayaking was out, napping was in.

We woke up on Sunday morning to clouds but no rain. We didn’t get motivated too early, but finally decided to put they kayaks in. We no sooner got them into the water then it started to rain. We pulled them out, and went back to the campground for a while, read and tried to watch TV. Of course we had no satellite and our digital converter box and antenna was almost worthless. Nothing on TV but Tivo'd programs.

The rain quit and we finally got the boats in the water. The river is MUCH prettier from in the water than walking along the trails and looking down. What a gorgeous river!

This is a black water but the edges sometimes show up very red, but mostly it's pretty black at depth. Not murky but dark from the tannin from the trees.


The black water makes for some beautiful reflections. The banks are high and have many sandy whhite beaches, and huge limestone rocks. Many of the trees have roots that are embedded right into the limestone. It’s amazing that these trees can still be alive and standing with the way they lean into the river. Some of the huge limestone rocks appear to be stacked like childrens building blocks. It's amazing that they don't fall right into the water. Of course a lot of them do and those are the things you have to watch out for when boating.


This is called Balanced Rock


Limstone rocks forming caverns



The different layers in the rock are interesting



We paddled until we came to the point where the black water of the Suwannee meets the brown murky water of the Withlacoochee. We paddled a little ways into the Withlacoochee and found a beautiful spring that was flowing from the limestone into the river. It appears to have been a swimming area at one time.


As we were heading back out towards the Suwannee, Al saw a large 2-3 foot fish jump completely out of the water. A few minutes later we heard another louder splash. It was right where the 2 rivers meet before you get to the 2 bridges. We felt it was probably one of the “prehistoric” Sturgeon fish. The one that has frequently killed and injured boaters when it jumps out of the water and happens to land in their boat or hit someone. I wasn’t too excited about going any further down stream into the area they were jumping so we headed back.

This is a pretty spot by the area where the 2 rivers meet. Pretty red water again.


The water actually is much redder then it shows in the photos.




We have kayaked on many of Florida’s rivers but the Suwannee is one of our favorites. The high limestone banks and white sandy beaches are unique and make for a beautiful and interesting trip. We will definitely be back. It would be beautiful in the fall with the fall colors.

We are leaving today but decided to go on an early morning geo-cache hunt. There was a cache on the old bridge we had hiked over before, and we found it quite easily.

Before we crossed the bridge the man who lives in the house right by the bridge came out and told us some stories. He was quite a character, shirtless with a long full beard. He was full of interesting facts and stories. He has lived there by the river many years and has been there through many floods. He has marked the high water levels on a light pole. April on 2009 was the 2nd highest since 1973! He said the water from the springs we were at yesterday and the other ones in this area originate in Canada, and that this water was what started the Missouri River. It flows underground from somewhere up north until it comes out of the ground here. The water from Nestle and Deer Park comes from these springs and is so pure the only thing they have to remove is the calcium deposits. They did a chemical analysis on the water to confirm it originated in Canada! Interesting, but I don’t know for certain this information is true, but he seemed to know what he was talking about. I guess I’ll have to check this out on the internet.

(Update...we saw the DeerPark bottling plant while on a trip to Madison Blue Springs), so I guess he was right. This is the water they use!

We also asked him about the jumping Sturgeon. He said this was the first year in many that they hadn’t killed anyone. They are either territorial or they like to mess with you but they seem to jump around boats frequently. He told a story about canoeing and one hitting his aluminum paddle. The guy in the front of the boat was knocked unconscious and had a big gash on his head from the fish jumping out of the water and hitting him. They lost one paddle but the other popped up after the fish had taken it down underwater. That’s the story he told. We stood on the bridge a while looking for the geo-cache and heard a very loud splash from a jumping fish. Didn’t have time to wait too long but were hoping to see one jump. He said there was a deep hole somewhere between the 2 bridges and they like to hang out there. He said if we kayaked closer to shore we should be ok. I’m a little freaked out about kayaking there with “attacking killer sturgeon.”

Giant jumping Sturgeon

He also told us where to find the old mansion that is on the 12 mile Big Oak trail. We didn’t have time today, but it is across the RR tracks by the power transformer. There is a little trail there we found with blue trail marks. He said you go down that trail to an old picnic table and go 250 feet to the mansion ruins. He said you head 2 o'clock to find the mansion. We’ll have to try it next time.

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