Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

We tolerated King's in order to meet the Sisters

I covered all the roads and paths at the campground on my run this morning before we packed up for a trip to the famous Crystal River with the objective of visiting one of the river's headwaters' springs located in King's Bay.  The river comes out of King's Bay, flows 7 miles to the Gulf,  and the springs which create it have great names like Idiot's Delight, Shark Sink, Gator Hold, American Legion and Three Sisters. This latter is actually a triple spring in one location and had been described as a surreal spot, hidden off of a channel in King's Bay, a very large body of water.  We took gear, our directions and set off for Hunter's Spring Park to put in. 

We paddled up to Pete's Pier here in the distance.  The water was slightly rough but the paddle was not long.

The waters were filled with power boats and lined with houses.  Not my favorite paddling location but we'd been told the 3 Sisters were worth it.

Down a couple of channels and around a bend we found the entrance which is blocked to keep power boats out and allow only paddlers and snorklers.

 We went through a tunnel and found ourselves in a magical place

completely surrounded by dense mangrove trees and not a sight of any manmade structure.
We couldn't even hear the noises from the channel or the bay

Each of the springs is located in a separate section of this enclosure and each flows toward the tunnel entrance through which we had come.

 I thought the roots were beautiful...

and mysterious.

We spent well over an hour just floating in this sanctuary as others in canoes and swimming with snorkeling gear came and went.  Everyone was very quiet and respectful.   I know that I'd like to have some snorkeling equipment to be able to get in these crystal clear waters and see the springs themselves more closely.

Finally time to leave and face the real world again.

One of the ostentacious houses that lined the canals and banks of the Bay on our return trip.

And an interesting motorized water craft..

Our visit to the 3 Sisters Springs took a little over 2 hours total more than half of which was spent in the springs themselves.  The paddle over and back was not my cup of tea but was thankfully short.  Can't say from this experience that I'd recommend kayaking in this area given the commercial aspects of King's Bay but I'd definitely recommend seeing The Three Sisters.   Most winters several hundred manatees stay within the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge which borders King's Bay and in which the 3 Sisters is located.  The commercial aspects of diving with and swimming with manatees bother me a great deal.  I'd read that at times there have been 10 humans to 1 manatee as a result of this "industry".  While I'd love the experience of spending time with these gentle creatures, I don't think I could be part of such a circus. 

But at this time of the year, there were relatively few people who came into The Three Sisters while we were there and although the paddle over through the bay seemed to have a lot of power boat traffic to me, it is apparently much worse in the winter.  At that time, the NWR sets aside sections of the Bay and Springs with ropes and barriers as sanctuaries for the manatee to be alone and rest.  I'm sorry they are forced to do that, but glad they do. 

On our way back to the campground, since it was early afternoon, we decided to stop at Rainbow River State Park Headquarters, take our lunch there to eat and walk the park's paths and trails.  That too was a wonderful experience which I'll write about separately.  Three Sister's is actually amazing enough for any one day!

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