Today we are at King’s Landing before 9am. We hope we’ll be early enough that we can beat the spring breakers. I’ve talked about this launch site in my previous post on “Finding the Headwaters”. There is a link to that here and above if you are interested in the details and costs of launching at this private concessionaire which is your only choice if you want to kayak the entire run.
Their map is excellent and clearly shows at the bottom where the head spring is to which you cannot paddle. You paddle down their canal seen on the right of the map, into the run and go left.
They say it takes about 4 hours. Not if you mostly float which is a problem since you have to meet them at 3:00 and for long sections on the run you don’t know exactly where you are. The mileages are only marked by King’s down to their turn around for out and back which is at that upside down 2 mile mark. From then on the only markers are for the campsites in the park. Those signs are easy to miss.
When we get our boats to the launch site we find there are two other parties who have the same idea about arriving early.
We wait and let them go first and then we set off. As you can see the water is absolutely transparent and shallow as I glide along.
It’s a sunny morning and the reptile sun bathers are hard at work on adjacent spots.
This run is the definition of a gorgeous paddle. The striking thing all day long is how quiet it is.
We reach the two mile turn around and realize it has been 2 hours since we’ve set out. Their statements about the river flowing at 2 to 3 miles an hour aren’t true today. If we keep up this pace David will miss the shuttle. He paddles off ahead. I’m going to go to the park with my kayak since there is no need to shuttle us both back to the car. I feel very sorry for him and grateful that he doesn’t seem to mind having to pay more attention to time. Next time we do this, and we will, I’d rather pay for a cab to take one of us back to King’s to pick up the car so we can just take our time and get there whenever we want. It can’t cost much more than the shuttle fee.
These grasses beg for manatee but with the busy Wekiva River waters through which they would have to go to get here, I don’t expect to see them.
I guess if there is no real bank then you just flop down on the leaves.
Doesn’t it look like a jungle fairy land?
I can’t begin to describe how absolutely pristine this area is. They bill it as looking like it did when the Spanish Explorers came in the 1500’s. I can almost believe it.
Turtles and alligators are really enjoying themselves. Birds sing all around and when they don’t the silence is palpable.
I’m not sure how this juvenile little blue heron can see to fish in all of these leaves.
I see the sign for the Indian Mound camp which is 5.4 miles down the run according to the map. I have 2.6 more miles. I don’t want this to end.
I wonder how many people ever have such complete silence and tranquility in their lives. My ears even feel differently. It’s like they can’t believe it and keep trying to find the noise.
Little blue heron perched above me as I glide under his branch.
At this point I realize I’m getting pretty close to the mouth of the Rock Spring and joining the Wekiva River. I recognize having paddled by here on my way up stream a few days ago.
This is about all I have seen of a number of waders this afternoon. Just their stretched necks in the foliage growing in the waters of the shallow run.
In the distnace ahead of me I see an orange kayak. It’s David. He’s arrived early and waited for me.
As we finish the run the traffic coming up is steady. It has really been wonderful having it to ourselves nearly the entire day. Most folks only paddle up a couple of miles unless they are going to one of the campsites so even on a Spring Break week day, the Rock Spring Run is a natural wonderland where you won’t find many folks unless you paddle up from the Wekiva.
We join the traffic on the Wekiva and head up to Wekiva Island and the King’s Landing shuttle spot. I go along to see him off. I’ll paddle back to the park once he’s under way. Check the map at the top if you want to see where we are. We are about to go under the bridge.
Busy busy at Wekiva Island at about 3:40 in the afternoon on this Tuesday.
Can you see the guy floating in the river, taking his chances with all this boat traffic?
We turn up the canal to the King’s Landing (see the map) which dead ends here, onto private property where they clearly do not want you to go. I guess this is a private canal which they can barricade if they want to. I wonder what rules there are about building canals off of the river.
David pulls up to the dock. This is not his usual way of getting in and out of his kayak, off to the side. For all his athletic ability, grace isn’t one of his strong suits and getting in and out of a kayak continues to be difficult for him especially now with the balance issues he has we assume as a result of his medicines. Although the distance actually doesn’t look bad for a side dismount, he may wish he practiced more yoga in a minute.
Sure enough, he ends up in the water which as you can see isn’t very deep. Unfortunately although he set his lunch bag on the dock before he started getting out, he did not set his camera or my binoculars with it and they are submerged with him.
I think about going back to volunteer to take the shuttle and let him go back to the park but think it’s probably better if I get the binoculars back as fast as I can to some rice. They are Swifts and a very nice pair. Unfortunately I don’t think to ask him about his camera and he is a bit too discombobulated to mention it.
On my way back though I am paddling all the way, I do stop to see what this Double Crested Cormorant will do about this paddleboarder obliviously coming right toward him.
He’s pretty cocky. He does nothing.
Another gater swims across in front of me in nearly the same spot we almost had an encounter the other day. I’m further away this time and he glides smoothly across and crawls out into a sunny spot.
The last pictures on my camera are what I think is a different little blue heron with slightly less blue coming on as he fishes on the Wekiwa Spring run.
They are so intense, so concentrated on the plan at hand.
Once back at the dock. I get my kayak cart out of the dry well, get the kayak on it and pull it up to the parking lot. David makes it back to King’s none the worse for the dunking although in the ensuing days, I am able to save my binoculars but not his camera. I think this is camera #5. This seems to be a hazard of pairing David with a kayak. But this time he wisely has purchased a 3 year all hazards protection policy so he’ll be without a camera until he can activate his warranty and get another one.
I cannot recommend the Rock Spring Run highly enough. The Wekiwa Spring Run and the Wekiva River are beautiful paddles but when the traffic gets heavy, head up to King’s and fork over your money for a magnificent float through the real Old Florida.