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

Henry David Thoreau

Hontoon Island State Park

Monday March 11, 2013
Site 20, Blue Spring State Park
Orange City, Florida
High 79, Low 53


YES it’s true, I’m VERY behind.
This post is date Monday March 11 when we went to Hontoon Island
But I’m posting it on March 20 so today
I want to wish everyone a

I have been out celebrating at Paynes Prairie Preserve
even though this post is from 9 days ago at Blue Spring. 
I can’t get caught up but spring is right on time
and the Earth is at a point of balance – equal days and equal nights. 
Daylight hours begin to increase.  
Can’t wait for the sun to come up at an earlier hour. 
Hope your life is in a similar balance on this day.


OK now Monday before last…………….we have a GREAT day.


With the warmer temperatures and fewer manatee we want to see the other state parks in this area during our last week here.

Today we decide to paddle up Snake Creek to Hontoon Island.  We retrieve our boats from their resting place under the trees near Blue Spring’s boat launch and set out South down the St. Johns River to a channel off of which Snake Creek begins?/ends?.  Snake Creek runs between the St. Johns River and Hontoon Dead River (some name huh?)


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The St Johns is a nice wide river.  There are power boats, house boats, pontoons, canoes, kayaks.   But  Snake Creek is a place for only the latter two.  We’ve been told it is a 3.5 mile paddle up to the island so that should give us time to explore the island even at our leisurely paddle pace.


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These little alligators were so well hidden that no matter what angle I tried, I couldn’t get a clear shot of both of their faces in the same shot.  Somehow all babies are cute.


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Finally I was able to get a picture of a kingfisher.  Not great but the best I’ve ever gotten.

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Snake Creek is a beautiful lazy paddle with lots of wildlife.  I really have  tried not to post TOO many pictures.

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This is such a great paddle.  It is hard picking the pictures for it.
But in this shot is a surprise.  For me at least.


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It’s amazing what different angles will reveal as you float or paddle by.  Did you see him in the picture above?

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We are paddling and paddling and wondering where are the take outs on the island.  We’ve gone far past the 3.5 miles we were told was the distance.

Finally we find a take out but it says please go around to the front of the island on the St. John’s river.  At this point, there is no way we can go around to the opposite end of the island so David goes ashore to see where we are.  Turns out we have somehow missed two take outs marked on the map.  Since we were looking so carefully I’m thinking those haven’t been used in a LONG time.  We called the park this morning and told them our plans and no one said a word about not being able to take out off of Snake Creek on the back of the island.   So law breakers that we are, we pull the kayaks up on shore.  We leave them out of view of anyone on what we now find is the Hontoon Dead River into which Snake Creek flows.  We had no intention of paddling up this far.  The kayaks are in full view of anyone who walks the nature trail but so be it.


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Lucky we missed the first two take outs since they would have been on the farthest point from the main dock and visitor’s center.  Here we are only a mile or so hike away.  Checking our watches we see that this incorrect time estimate has put us in some trouble.  We have actually come 4.5 miles and will have to go back that much as well so we have about an hour to spend on the island including the mile walk up and another back.

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We are not doing the leisurely hike and investigation of the island we had hoped to do.  Still, it is very beautiful and few people are here today.

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We reach the main dock, and see park boat.  It brings people over from the mainland which you can easily see in the background.  You could swim over, except for the alligators.  :-)


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There appears to be only one ranger on duty and he is manning the visitor center, the store and driving the “ferry”.   As we arrived, he left.  So the store and the center were closed.  

We eat our lunch while waiting for the ranger and chat with some nice folks who have kayaked from Blue Spring up the front way on the St. Johns and suggest we do that next time and come through the canals.   That’s our plan.


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We don’t have much time to hang around since we had to walk back a mile and kayak another 4.5 miles.  But the ranger gets back in time for me to get my park book stamped and for us to learn that there is a walk in tent campground on the island.  We don’t have time to see it or hike to the shell mound.   But that just means we’ll have to come back.  :-))   I seem to say that quite a lot.

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We head back down the trail to the kayak stopping at the big trees along the way.


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More gorgeous scenery on the way back.  It may be longer but I can’t imagine the St. Johns is any more beautiful as a route to Hontoon Island State Park.


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As we get farther down into the creek we see this boat, which must be driven by total fools to have attempted this small creek in a boat with a motor.  And yup they are stuck.  I am kind as I approached the boat and don’t take a picture of the guy on the bow with a paddle trying to paddle them up stream.  It is all I can do not to laugh.  But I do take one of the guy in the back on his cell phone.   

We tell them they are about 2 miles from Hontoon Dead River where there is deeper water and over 1 mile through an even shallower section of Snake Creek to the St. Johns and deeper water.   It is about 40 minutes before sun set.   Wonder what will happen?  And how much the rescue will cost. 

Actually the creek is shallow in many places and I think they may be able to get out and push it.  But perhaps they tried and they were too stuck.


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We reach the mouth of Snake Creek and come out into the channel leading to the St. Johns.  We’re in plenty of time.  Doesn’t it always seem to take less time to come back?  


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As we near the park we see our manatee friend with his peduncle tracking attachment.   Home again!

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  1. You are right, it always takes less time on the way back. Even though it always looks a bit different going the opposite direction I have always seen the main sights so I spend less time dawdling. Course in your case a time constraint also kept you moving. I look forward to someday having you show me some of these water trails.

  2. Another blog of great pictures from beginning to end :) What a beautiful paddle. The bird pictures were all great as were the turtle shots. A full, lovely day for sure. Definitely an island and river worthy of a return trip.

  3. What a great paddle. Love those baby gators!

  4. All the pictures are lovely but I seem to be drawn to turtles. Great narrative.

  5. Nothing like a "short" tour! :c)

    A great day on and off the water. You enjoy a little variety in your life, eh?

  6. Very nice paddle and hike. I don't think that we could have made such a long day. Stroke...stroke...stroke...

  7. There's a ranger who lives on the island. His name is Dusty, and I used to work with his wife, Kasey. She said her least favorite time was coming home to the island, after dark, with groceries. She would have to take a canoe from the launch, over to the island, if Dusty wasn't able to come get her in the ferry.

    I enjoyed your journey! The photos are amazing, and I'm glad you got to see such beauty. I am so grateful to have this as my backyard!

  8. Great turtles!! The alligators never bother a person in a kayak, so low to the water?

  9. Really great wildlife and nature photos. The little baby alligators, so cute. The boat being stuck reminded me of the African Queen movie, only these guys aren't getting eaten up by mosquitoes.

  10. whew! I'm glad you two made it back before dark. Your pictures are so clear and beautiful. I love the mossy looking trees. the baby alligators are so cute too. I'm glad your kayak is large enough for me to ride along with you. It doesn't matter that you are a little behind. The Pictures are timeless and your story telling is incredible.!

  11. You can't post too many pictures for me... how beautiful! you got a good eye, Sherry ... hahaa cute little alligators... I'll say.

    Well? those guys in the motor boat... jumping jeez. I hope you find out how they got out... always amazes me ... do you think they thought at all?

  12. Love the turtles. Happy Spring Equinox to you too!

  13. That was quite a day... long hike back? Looks like spring has sprung in Florida Love the pretty yellow bloom and the baby alligators. A beautiful sight too is David looking healthy and more vigorous. I am grateful every day that he has returned to good enough health to enjoy life. Go David... and to you Sherry for guiding him through such difficult times. Happy paddles... and oh yes! beautiful photography, indeed.

  14. Going home is always faster ... perhaps because the anticipation of going somewhere new to explore is over.

  15. Wonderful pics. Never heard of Hontoon Island SP. We really liked Payne's Prairie. Great cycling.
    By the way, how have the bugs been in FL this winter?

  16. As usual, lovely story and pictures! We haven't been in our Sea Eagle since Myrtle Beach :( Not a whole lot of areas in San Jose to paddle :) Our time will come!

  17. I LOVE going on your day trips with you. Your writing skill makes me feelas though I'm an invisible person sitting on the bow of your kayak, Sherry! The more pictures, the better. For those of us who aren't mobile, they show beauty that we can't see where we are. I was never eager to camp in Florida, but you have changed all that. There really are beautiful places--I just didn't give it a chance. If I find myself able to do things, it will probably be late fall or early winter which is the perfect time to visit, and may very well be the first place I'll go.

  18. Great Paddle and lovely river!! Nice Kingfisher;o))


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