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 out...one of the most difficult. The only other place that rivaled it was the Econfina Creek Run . It 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.
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 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.