Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Comments on photos - Juniper Springs Run

A few readers have commented on the new picture I posted on the blog header.  It is a pretty picture isn't it?  I hadn't seen it for a while and it almost made me want to go back there......almost..

Let me tell you a little about the place where that picture was taken.  It was one of our first kayak trips and as it turns of the most difficult.  The only other place that rivaled it was the Econfina Creek RunIt was quite a few years ago.

Juniper Springs Run is located in the central portion of Florida in the Ocala National Forrest.  There is a wildlife reacreation area that is a very nice park.  It's a great place to spend the day even if you don't want to kayak. It's a beautiful spring fed river, which starts out with crystal clear and very shallow water.  I'm talking inches deep at first.

We put the kayaks in to very shallow water, like you see here.

There are a lot of downed trees that you have to navigate and duck to get under.  It's very pretty though.

It's a 7 mile float downstream.

The water changes colors often.

After a few miles, you get to a different kind of river. It starts to look less like a spring run and more like a regular river, and the current picks up.  We stopped to stretch our legs (well Al had to pee). He got out on a muddy, slippery bank.  About the time he made a few steps, I saw a gator coming right at him.  I screamed, the gator ran right past Al and dove into  the water and swam off.  By the time I was able to get a word out, it was all over.  Somehow  Al slipped on the muddy bank and ended up flat on his butt.  It was all over before we had a chance to realize what was happening.
Lesson learned:  When you stop to get out on  a river....make a lot of noise and let any gators know you are there..before you get out of the boat!  We scared the gator more than he scared us. We saw him floating down the river..well away from us.


When the river changed, it became full of hydrilla (water plant) and it was so thick you could not paddle anywhere else except the narrow path of water.   We came to a spot where there was a rather large alligator parallel to the path we were about to be in.  Normally gators are afraid of people and they will quickly swim away.  Lesson 2:  If there is a gator underneath your kayak, don't hit him with your paddle!  No, we didn't do that...we always try to "'paddle shallow" if that is a possibility.

When we came upon this gator, he stayed put and stared at us as we passed within 6 feet of his very large body.   He never bothered us, but he unnerved us since he didn't appear to have any fear of man.   footnote:  the very next week, someone was killed by an alligator in that very same river.  Al always thought it was that same gator who had no fear of man (or woman).  Another time we were scuba diving in the Rainbow River someone was killed by a gator a short time after that trip. Alligator attacks are very rare, but they do happen.

After we got past he gator, it started to storm....lightning, thunder, and rain.  We paddled like heckl the rest of the way until we reached the takeout point.  We were sure glad to get to the end.  It was a very nice and scenic river, but between the gator issues, the weather, the shallow water and low trees, it was a tough paddle.  One day I guess we'll have to try it again.  It was a beautiful river. 


  1. I had to watch my thought I was going to
    There were several floating out there..crazy..CRAZY..crazy...see I kept it to one!! lol

    Wozza..that is some journey..If you love be it..I will live these adventures thru you!!The scenery is goregous.

    Ya'll be I will worry..everytime you say you are hitting a river..can I talk you into the rides at

    Cindy and Walker

  2. WOW, that makes for a story doesn't it. What a beautiful river though. A hard run for your first one, good thing it didn't put you off doing more kayaking.

    Kevin and Ruth

  3. Karen, thank you for posting about the picture, and for telling your story about the alligators. I thought it was the Juniper Springs run! Funny, we just did the Alexander Springs run on Saturday and saw lots of gators there. Tons of hydrilla, too. Too much, really.

    Seeing your pictures...gators and all...really makes me want to paddle Juniper. One of these weekends soon!

    Take care,


  4. I'm with Cindy on this one. I'll enjoy kayaking through your words and photos. No gators for me!

    Almost died laughing though picturing (well sort of) Al standing there to pee and falling down and you screaming at an alligator. Would have made a funny video.

  5. That is a very pretty part of Florida! We have camped in the Ocala Nat. Forest a few times, but never ventured on the paddled creeks like you did. That is a bit too close to the gators for me... EEK!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  6. That is a very pretty part of Florida! We have camped in the Ocala Nat. Forest a few times, but never ventured on the paddled creeks like you did. That is a bit too close to the gators for me... EEK!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  7. Oh you guys are all chickens :)

    That was the only time we've had a "problem" with gators and that one gator couldn't get away from us fast enough. We just made the mistake of not checking before we got out of the boats.

    It's really not scary and is so beautiful and peaceful. I've never heard of a kayaker getting eaten by a gator...swimmer's yes, kayakers no.

    So you guys come on down and visit us and we'll take you out for a paddle!

  8. thanks for the interesting information

  9. Just slipped back to read this again after Sherry mentioned your Juniper Springs paddle. I have always wanted to paddle that run, but of course if I ever get to Florida with my kayak, now I will be scared. I will still probably do it, but I will be scared! whew!


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