MY KAYAK LAMENT
Our last three days at Silver Springs State Park found us on the trails picking up steps. We move tomorrow and my only regret about this stay is in not listening to the little voice that told me not to bring my kayak back from our river paddle on Wednesday but to tie it up near the river so I could come out again.
But that “other practical voice” said that I wouldn’t kayak on the week-ends, too many people, and we were going to Alexander Springs so I had to bring it back and put it on the car for that trip.
Both of those are true but I wish instead that I had put the Alexander Springs trip at the end of our stay here so I could have gone out in the kayak on the Silver River every single morning early just by walking down the lovely river path. Next time for sure. In fact, I make myself a pledge that whenever we are at any campground with an early morning paddle possibility, on the day we arrive, I will put my kayak down by the dock and leave it there until we leave, if that is possible.
Since my kayak is on top of the car, I go out in the early morning to hike. Here are the trails I or we we did beginning with the Sink Hole Trail on Saturday afternoon following our Cracker Homestead tour and lunch.
Saturday SINK HOLE TRAIL
The Sink Hole Trail begins at the day use area where the parking, restrooms and picnic tables are on the map. It is the red trail and at its beginning follows the same path blue and yellow trails to actually look purple as it starts out above the restroom sign. It is not the orange swamp trail although they look the same color on the maps and even on the trail markers as the red fades.
We start out on the trail and take it to where the blue (spring) trail and yellow (Sandhill Trails go off to the right. We turn left.
I love seeing the little Long Leaf pines just beginning to grow. Their needles reach down nearly to the ground. They remind David of those old fiber optic spray spray lamps of the 70’s. Anybody as old as David and can remember those?
The habitat changes from all pines .
The trails is winding along when over on the side the ground just goes down……into a hole……with water.
Looks like a distant lake. The camera doesn’t do a good job of showing how far down off the trail the water is.
Wonder what it would be like to kayak in a sink hole?
This picture gives a bit of a better look at the height of the ground and the depth of the sink hole.
We continue on along the trail which is totally covered with leaves. It’s like a confusion of seasons. Many trees are still bare of leaves, some are getting their new light spring growth, the palmettos all look like summer is in full swing and the ground looks like fall.
On our way we come to some fallen trees that have been beautifully decorated by nature.
The colors are just wonderful.
Sunday SPRING TRAIL
This morning I head out to walk from the Campground over to the Spring Head area. This is not something we’ve ever been able to do before so I’m lookin forward to it.
The trail begins as red/blue so the beginning is the same as the Sink Hole Trail I hiked yesterday.
When I get to the point where I turn right to stay on the Springs trail. It’s almost funny that now the “blue” trail I am on no longer looks purple, now it looks green. The yellow trail has joined the blue. Or probably since the Blue is the newest trail it was mapped over the two existing trails. Whatever.
Here I find raindeer moss along the trail. It’s not actually a plant, it’s a lichen.
It lines the trail at some points, comes in big bunches in other places and in dots peppered all around.
I finally arrive at the point where the blue trail heads off on its own direction. I’ve left red behind and now yellow, the Sand Hill Trail goes straight ahead while I turn right.
The skies are filled with tall long leaf pines and beneath them are turkey oaks
Right next to the tall long leaf are the bitty ones. They are just so cute and I’m so happy to see this habitat returning to the south east.
Until 1969 this road I am about to cross led to Paradise Park which was Silver Springs for “colored people”. I wrote about it in a previous post (see it here) so I won’t explain it again but I did want to see if there is anything left.
The answer is well……….I don’t know. I walk down the road but there are gates and you can’t go there. The Blue trail takes me to the left and onto the former attraction property and past the boat dock at the head waters.
To reach the boat dock at the spring head, you come into the parking lot and take the road to the right of the spring entrance. You can drop off your boat as this car is doing, leave it where the red one on the right is and then go park your car.
It’s only a short carry from the drop off to the put in. If you don’t have your own canoe or kayak, you can rent them here and the rental folks will put them in for you as this guy is doing.
The folks in the red car I mentioned in the picture above weren’t just dropping off their boats, they were blowing them up too. Pretty clear evidence that your Sea Eagle is safe in the Silver River.
The entrance to the springs on this Sunday is much less busy than it was last Sunday for the Spring Fest.
Not as many folks yet for the Glass Bottom boats but it’s very early. I’m betting traffic will pick up later in the day.
It’s a beautiful. Sunday after all.
I find most of the people are enjoying the continuing tradition of the Silver Springs Easter Egg Hunt. The state park really has kept so much of what made the springs famous.
The egg hunters are out with baskets in tow.
The eggs aren’t showing up very well in this picture even though they are hardly hidden.
Here’s a closer view. I sure had to work a lot harder to find them when I was a kid.
There is always some music it seems in the area overlooking the springs. Today it is a lone singer doing ballads.
Before heading back, I stop for a picture at the set up bench. Pretty sure I had a picture of myself, my mother and my aunt Carrie in this same spot in the late 50’s.
It’s back across the road and through the tall pines which on this stretch look almost like a pine plantation.
I am taken up short when I see this colorful swallowtail butterfly on the trail in front of me. I assume it is an eastern tiger swallowtail but it would be a lot easier to tell if he’d open his wings which he refuses to do even though I wait quite a while.
The Blue Springs Trail again joins the Red Sink Hole trail and when they reach the intersection with the Orange Swamp trail I decide to make my hike a bit longer and swing over to my favorite trail in the park. I was the first hike we did when we got here and tomorrow it will be the last one I do before we leave so I’ll leave the pictures for then.
Monday – SWAMP TRAIL
Today is our last day at Silver Springs. David says he has too many things to do to go for an early morning Swamp Hike so I leave him repairing a tear in his beach chair seat. It's thick material and his digital strength should make it easier for him to do.
This really is my favorite trail at Silver Springs and I love walking it.
There is no one on the trail all the way out until I reach the boardwalk when I run into this large tram. Oh phooey, a tour I think. I was so hoping to have some time alone in this wonderful spot.
As always the swamp is magical. The light is somewhat eerie.
When I arrive at the end of the boardwalk, there is no tour group but I'm not alone. The driver of the tram is there waiting for a class of 5th graders who are out on a boat as part of their Florida Science lesson.
I'm not really in the mood to chat but I don't want to be rude. We talk for a bit and then I take a few pictures hoping if I go up on the upper deck I can have some quiet time here..
But before that happens we both hear the motor of the returning boat. I really don't feel like sharing this spot today with a boat full of noisy 5th graders so I head back across the boardwalk. I take one last picture of the river just before they come into view. Their voices definitely preceed them.
Back on the board walk, the light has changed. The swamp is amazing. Every time I walk through it looks different.
I enjoy my quiet walk most of the way back and then I hear the tram vehicle and the noisy voices.
This spent palmetto fron has fallen into the path and looks almost like an arrow pointing the way.
But the msot interesting thing on the hike today almost escaped my notice. I'm not sure how this little guy caught my eye he blends in so well. Do you see him?
Try as I might, I can't find him among reptiles of Florida. Anyone know who he is. He's not a anole or a gecko. He doesn't look like a Texas Horned Lizard but I suppose they could be related. Anybody know who he is? He was for sure the find of the day.
He was hard to get in a close up since I couldn’t move for fear of scaring him away.
Some Florida Native out there must know who he is. Paula??
A nice ending to my last hike in Silver Springs State Park before we move on to Wekiwa Springs tomorrow.