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Wekiwa Springs State Park: Campground, Trails, Spring, Local Residents.

March 26 and 27, 2017                                                          Most Recent:
Sunday and Monday                                                           
Walking Down the Berm
Wekiwa Springs State Park                                                 Paddling the Ocklawaha
Apopka, Florida

 

 

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Today we moved 174 miles south on Route 19 and an amazing number of other little country roads, 3 miles here 5 miles there turn turn turn before arriving at Wekiwa Springs in Apopka.

Our site is nice and big and level with water and electric.  There are a few sites in this campground loop with FHU and sites 1-30  in the other campground all have FHUs.  But making reservations comparatively late, since I was hoping we could go west this year, I couldn’t snag a FHU.

We were happy to leave Rodman for a number of reasons.  If you’ve read my previous posts on Rodman you know most of the reasons.  Those posts are the links at the top of this page.  Another reason  was that while we aren’t sports fans by any stretch we do like ACC college basketball and particularly the NCAA Tournament, the Sweet 16, the Elite 8, the Final 4 and the Big Game. 

We met in Chapel Hill North Carolina lo those many years ago during the Dean Smith,  Michel Jordan, Sam Perkins, James Worthy years.  No way not to be a basketball fanatic.

 

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These days many of the NCAA games are on cable stations notably those owned by Turner.  We don’t have cable and don’t want it but that means we need a decent TV signal for the games that are over the air on CBS.  No such luck at Rodman.  With our antenna and booster, we did have a strong enough internet signal that we could watch a couple of games for free on the computer before they cut us off.

But coming to Apopka, which is close to Orlando, means we are set for all the games through the championship.  So that’s what we did on Sunday.  We moved in and watched basketball.  Thumbs up to Wekiwa and CBS.

 

 

On Monday it was out to hike some of the trails in the park.  In addition to the Spring itself and the boat launch into the Spring Run, the park has an impressive number of trails moving through a variety of Central Florida habitats.  There is a main hiking trail that is 13.5 miles long, a horse trail 8 miles, a bicycle trail 7.75 miles and a Volksmarch Trail 5.3 miles or any combination of these you’d like to put together from the map and numbered posts along the way.   This is the map I SHOULD have had today but I was only going to do a short hike out to Sand Lake, a one mile straight shot North from the campground according to the campground map.

The amount of moisture in the soil determines the kind of trees that can grow in a given area.  The park has both River Swamp, Dry Sandhill and Pine Flatland areas.  It’s very interesting to move from one to the other as I did today.

 

 

Looking out across the Pine Flatlands the rising sun has turned the grasses Golden.

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There are nice access trails  from the campground.  No need to drive to a trail head. 

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Up ahead I find I’m sharing the trial with a turkey hen. 

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Not too much further away is the Tom.  He’s showing off for her and for me inadvertently.

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Now that’s an interesting face.

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She doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to his display.

 

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Walking on I move from pine needle trails to straight sand.

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Another local resident.

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Must be more water here.

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Must be a lot of water here at some times of the year to require a boardwalk.

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Different habitat, different species.

 

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Since I did not have the trails map with me but only the campground map which did not show any fork in the road, I didn’t know which way to go at this point.  I suppose the bench is for those like me to sit and ponder what to do.   I took each arm for a little bit to see if  I would come to the lake but neither did so I turned around and this point and headed for the spring.

 

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Can’t tell if it’s a male or female though I think I see a slight red spot on the back of his head but I’m going to guess it’s a Hairy Woodpecker since he seemed bigger and his bill looks a little longer than a Downy’s to me.   Anybody else want to take a guess?  Without Judy, I have no “expert”.  Eric??

 

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Birds weren’t the only thing on the trail today.  If anyone can identify it, please do.

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Overhead I hear quite a ruckus.  I recognize the red bellied woodpecker and see them zipping around overhead chasing each other.  My story is that it is 2 males trying to entice a female.   They were impossible to catch in flight but every once in a while one would light somewhere and do a bit of drumming.  I caught them twice.

 

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I can tell I’m going down closer to the spring as things turn much greener.

 

 

I pick up what is known as the “wet to dry” trail.  It’s pretty “wet” with all boardwalks to the spring.  Really lovely today.

 

 

 

At the end of  the trail shocking ORANGE plastic fencing around a section of the spring wall.

 

 

The spring has been turned into a sort of swimming pool  with a rock and cement wall.  Cement walk all around it and a grassy hill with steps leading up to the parking lot.

 

 

There is a bridge over the spring outlet that allows me to walk over to the kayak launch.  Crossing over the bridge I look out to the river.

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I stop at the edge of the kayak put in and see a green heron fly in.

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He’s in the shadows at first.

 

 

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But then he flies out into the light where I can see his great colors.

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We’ve already brought our kayaks down and left them behind the house from which the park rents whatever you want, paddle board, canoe, single kayak, double kayak and in just about any color you want too.

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I walk back over the bridge to the spring and all around it.  This orange fencing is not the one I saw in the first place.  It’s the one we saw last year at about this same time.  Clearly there is no repairing going on here.  Wonder what that means?  From the additional fencing at the end of the trail, I’d say the walls are getting worse.

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I take a couple of pictures of the problem from different angles.  Wonder how they might go about fixing this if they were so inclined??

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Still the spring is lovely and clear and I personally wouldn’t mind if all the cement disappeared and it went back to its natural banks though with all the people who come here, that probably isn’t practical.   The day we arrived, a Sunday afternoon around 2:00, the line was so long we had to sit and wait for about 10 minutes to be able to turn left into the park.  They close the park to additional people once the parking lot is full and apparently that happens every week-end day and every day in the summer.   The spring has a HUGE parking lot.  It’s a good sized pool but………….

 

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On my way back to the campground I meet up with what I assume is the same Tom and his lady friends.  Now he has two.

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I just can’t resist adding more pictures of him.  He is an amazingly unique creature.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a domestic turkey.  Are they as amazing as these wild ones?  We raised chickens and for a short time geese but never turkeys.

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Guess I’ll add some pictures of his lady fair since she didn’t have her back to me or head in the ground as she did when I started out earlier this morning.  IF, of course, this is the same group.

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Tomorrow it’s time to get out on the river in the kayak.

19 comments:

  1. Those turkeys are such characters!

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  2. I always think that turkeys have a face that only a mother could love!

    I love the colour of the water in the springs down there and they are so crystal clear. I can see that you are already planning lots of hikes, bike rides and kayak rides in this park. Hope the weather stays nice for you.

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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  3. The lush green near the spring is lovely, but oh how I love those golden grasslands and tall pines! Wonderful green heron - their colors always look like a mountain cabin to me. My youngest was so afraid of turkeys and looking at their faces close up I remember why :-) Still, they are marvelous creatures and I'm sure are very appealing to each other. Can't imagine a parking lot full of people in that spring......

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  4. Glad you found a spot where you could watch basketball. Al has the game recorded. My cousin Anne went to school in Chapel Hill and of course is a fanatic as well. She and her wife live here in Key West now and can be seen riding around on their light blue scooter wearing light blue tshirts! Great photos of the turkey. Mr. Baxter says if you run into any loose tail feathers, he'd appreciate you sending it to him. He has so much fun with turkey feathers, but has worn his out.

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  5. I love the turkeys! It sure looks like spring is "springing" and all the males are primping to look their best.

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  6. Must be spring with all the nice colors on your bird sightings. Surprised the springs are open at all with the amount of breakdown there. Might be time to let the area return to nature. Oh boy, another paddle.

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  7. Wow, those turkeys. Great shots.

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  8. Glad you were able to get to a place to watch the game!!
    That turkey face is certainly something!! Your hike looked like a really nice one with all the greenery and nice paths.

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  9. The spring is beautiful! It looks so inviting, just calling one to take a dip. That Tom turkey is spectacular. I loved the close up photos of his head. So interesting and colorful.

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  10. I just made our reservations for Wekiwa Springs for next February. No surprise, there were only 2 sites to choose from—but I got a good one. :-) I don't ordinarily watch sports, but I did watch the game tonight with a group of Oregon friends—cannot believe the Ducks lost by one point!! I know you're happy, but Eric is not. I'll wait until tomorrow to ask him your woodpecker ID question....hehe.

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  11. I've never been a big basketball fan. I did watch it as a young'un with my Dad, but it bores me silly now :) Your turkey friend is certainly ugly and beautiful at the same time.

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  12. Didn't know you were basketball fanatics. You always have some surprises in your blog posts. Glad you had a wonderful day feeding your addiction. :cD

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  13. Your Tom guy is good looking! The spring is very inviting, can't wait to see your paddling out there and show us what creatures abound in your route.

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  14. Impressive turkeys and lovely spring despite the concrete. Go Tar heels...even if it wasn't a stellar last game. Such beautiful green...can't wait for the leaves to return in Maryland!

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  15. I'm actually going to say the woodpecker is a Downy....definitely not a bird expert, but Hairy Woodpecker bills are noticeably longer.

    The yellow plant is a rattlebox, although I couldn't specify which species. There are several found here.

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  16. Thanks Sherry for the pictures of you site there. Also, those Turkeys are amazing...so big!! Not sure if we will camp there or not. But it looks nice to me;-))

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  17. Love your Tom turkey & green heron pictures. I wonder what they call that thing that hangs over Tom's beak. Sure is a strange looking character with beautiful colors and display talents that rival any I have seen from any species. Your 1st turkey hen gave you a great image for the end!

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  18. David, it's called a snood.

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  19. oh wow! I've never seen turkey so close before. It's not very beautiful ha-ha

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