Halls River and Homosassa Springs 9/11/10
After a very stress filled and exhausting week I decided that I needed some solitude. I called up my friend Robin, from Good Time Kayaking, and we decided to drive north and get out on the water.
Our destination – Halls River and Homosassa Springs. This time of year there is little traffic on the Halls River and that was just perfect for me! We arrived at Natures Campground where we were planning to launch just before the marina there opened. There was a kind old fella that took our fees and told us about the river. We sadly remembered in our conversation the fellow Americans that were lost on this date just a few years ago and you could see the genuine pain and sadness in his eyes. I thought for a moment of what he has seen our country go through in all his years and I felt his sadness. It was clear he was a veteran – there was no need to ask, he carried himself with the pride that only a soldier would know. We talked about my son-in-law who is now serving in Afghanistan and he reminded us to take a moment and think of those lost while we paddled down the river.
Soon Robin and I were off on our trip up to the headspring of the Halls River. There was not another vessel insight the entire trip. It was peaceful and the quiet was soothing. We talked a little about the stress of the week but soon we were just wrapped up in the beauty that surrounded us. There were many birds and turtles around, lots of jumping mullet and even a friendly squirrel checked us out for just a minute. AS the sun got higher in the sky we started checking out inlets to the river. There were no clocks or deadlines, no one to watch or teach just us and the river. Tall grasses surrounded us as we paddled through a path recently cleared by airboats. The waterways opened occasionally to show wide open skylines and marsh. There were places along the river where the water was clear and ice cold and other dark and mysterious and nearly warm to the touch. There were signs everywhere warning of manatee traffic as this is a favorite spot for manatees to “warm up” in the winter. It will be nice to come back up in December and see them here. They are highly protected and there are rules to follow to keep them safe. When we bring our group up in December we will go over all those rules and make sure our groups does not disturb these peaceful creatures. We saw many varieties of fish and crabs; there was even a small ray of some sort that scooted off as we paddled by. We paddled as far as we could and when we ran out of river we turned back and headed to the dock for a little lunch stopping only once for a chilly swim near a spring.
Once we arrived back at the launch and enjoyed a peaceful waterside snack we headed to the Homosassa River just past the bridge near the launch. Robin warned me this was not going to be anywhere near peaceful ns boy was she correct. Tons of boat traffic greeted us. Pontoon boats like a train coming up the river and when we arrived at the springs there were just hoards of people. Boats all tied together and having once heck of a party. It seemed like everyone was drinking and playing music and enjoying their day in their own way. I wondered to myself why the manatees would ever want to take refuge here in the winter….and this is the off-season for this area! Robin showed me the barricade that crossed the river at Homosassa Springs State Park that allowed the manatees to enter but not the boats. Giving them some reprieve from the crowds as they came in to the warm spring waters in the winter. After a quick dip we paddled on past the next bridge and left the crowds behind. IT was beautiful here. There were more spring and the water was clear. There were yellow Bellied Sliders taking in some sun on branches near the water and the sun was at a perfect place to just ripple through the trees and through the water. We spooked a flock of about 6-8 wood ducks, males and females. We could not even think to get close enough for a photo! We went as far as we could and soon had to head back. I was happy to get past all the party boats and headed back up the Halls River but sad our day was ending.
Next weekend we are heading up to Blue Springs near Orange City Florida…stay tuned for tales of our next adventure!