Monday, April 27, 2009

Black River NC

In contrast with the world's longest river, the Black is short, flat, and almost unknown beyond coastal North Carolina.
Still, some of the trees along the Black River may be older than any found along the Amazon.
The oldest known trees east of the Rocky Mountains can be found on this meandering blackwater stream in the southeastern part of the state: a stand of 1,700-year-old bald cypress. These ancient trees are easily recognized by their huge buttresses and flat tops that have been blown out by countless storms.
The Black River runs a mere 60 miles from its origins in North Carolina's southeastern coastal plain to its union with the Cape Fear River near the Atlantic Ocean. In dry weather, it is often clogged by sandbars.
In recognition of the fact that the Black River is one of the cleanest, high-quality waterways in North Carolina, the state designated the river an Outstanding Resource Water in 1994. The river is home to rare fish species such as the Santee chub and broadtail madtom and numerous rare mussels like the Cape Fear spike. Many wildlife species inhabit the rivers floodplain, including bobcat, river otter, black bear, and neotropical songbirds like the prothonotary warbler and yellow-throated vireo.
The Black River is a treat to canoe throughout the seasons. You will relish drifting down the slow-moving tea-colored stream flanked by stately bald cypress draped with Spanish moss. Swamp roses bloom in the spring and spider lilies grace the water in the summer. Spring is a great time to see migratory songbirds nesting, while the foliage is outstanding in the fall.

"Yes Genger, we will meet at the boatramp in Ivanhoe at 10am Saturday. Unload everything and take the cars to the campground.Hope to start paddling at 11am." Craig

"The Black River trip this past weekend, from Ivanhoe down to the Wildlife ramps near hwy. 53, 21 miles, was outstanding. Perfect weather, great scenery, great potluck dinner Sat. night at Henry's Landing, where we camped. (Camille supplied pork ribs and Ralph brought his mobile cooker.) We saw some cool stuff on the river including a wild turkey flying across in front of us. Craig made it all possible with his organizing ability. Thanks, Craig! Let's do it again in the fall!".....Ginger

"Thanks Craig!!!
That was the best canoe trip I've had in years!Thanks Camille and Ralph! The Ribs were Wonderful!Thanks Emily! The cookies were Fabulous!Thanks Eva! I don't know what that stuff was but it was all good. I especially liked the green slime that goes on the crackers. Thanks Tamas. Chocolate is important!Thanks everybody else! Too much to write it all I had an awesome time! ".....Frank

"will bring pasta salad for saturday night dinner" ..... rich

Hey Craig,
Ralph and I will be bringing ribs for Saturday evening dinner. (Note: If you want wine or beer for Saturday evening bring it with you. You won't find it in any of the quick stops or stores anywhere near.)

"Hi All, I'm making potato salad and deviled eggs for Saturday's dinner. I'm looking forward to the weekend! See you soon!"......Pam

"I made the Sunday part of the trip which included the paddle through Three Sisters. As with last year, Craig put together a great trip. Thanks again.Here's another vote for the green slime "...Camille

In 1986 scientists from the University of Arkansas found one big cypress that time had not hollowed. Its annual growth rings revealed it to be the oldest tree east of the Rocky Mountains, having taken root some time before 364 A.D.

"For future reference, these are the GPS coordinates for the route we took through the Three Sisters section. Craig it was an outstanding trip! Thanks so much for organizing and leading it. ".
.. Rich
1) N 34 29' 59.5", W 78 14' 43.7"
2) N 34 29' 59.5", W 78 14' 43.6"
3) N 34 29' 54.9", W 78 14' 45.5"
4) N 34 29' 54.1", W 78 14' 43.5"
5) N 34 29' 52.2", W 78 14' 43.5"
6) N 34 29' 50.1", W 78 14' 41.1"
7) N 34 29' 49.0", W 78 14' 37.7"
8) N 34 29' 47.4", W 78 14' 33.0"
9) N 34 29' 44.2", W 78 14' 30.1"
10) N 34 29' 40.9", W 78 14' 27.1"
11) N 34 29' 38.2", W 78 14' 19.9"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Alexander - Juniper - Silver Springs Fl ........the trip to see the monkeys (04 apr - 11 apr 2009)

No paddling vacation is complete without a trip to the Juniper Springs Recreation Area, located in Florida's Ocala National Forest. The recreation area and surrounding wilderness consist of two medium sized blue springs, a seven mile spring run, fantastic RV and tent camping sites, visitor center, picnic tables, and miles of hiking trails. If you didn't bring a canoe or kayak, the US Forest Service runs a concession stand offering 15 and 17 foot aluminum canoes for rent. The Forest Service will transport you and your personal boat from the takeout to the rec area for $6 per person and $6 per boat.
Please Note: Disposable containers, including soda cans, are not allowed on the spring run. Also, be prepared for a long portage from the parking lot to the canoe ramp. If you have a heavy boat, bring a cart or borrow one of the park service carts.
Starting at the canoe ramp, the upper spring run is crystal-clear and less than one foot deep. A white sand bottom gives the appearance of paddling down a sandy, twisty and narrow roadway. Palmetto, palms, oak and cypress form almost a complete canopy over the small creek, which is much appreciated on hot summer days. About two miles downstream, the run enters Juniper Prairie Wilderness, a sanctuary for wildlife and those seeking to get far away from the urban world. The Florida Trail passes through here, offering a great place to hike, as well as paddle.
Further downstream the creek becomes wider and deeper while a matting of leaves cover the bottom. A nice picnic spot with small wooden dock is at the half-way mark. Near the takeout the creek widens again into a flood plain / savannah complete with marsh grasses, alligators and many wading birds. The takeout is just beyond the SR 19 bridge on the right side of the creek. Juniper Creek continues for another 2.5 miles before emptying into Lake George.


The Juniper Springs Recreation Area is located in the Ocala National Forest, approximately 30 miles east of Ocala on SR 40. If you are coming from Orlando, take US 441 north to SR 19. Go left (west) at the junction of SR 19 and SR 40 for 5 miles. The park entrance is on the north side of SR 40. The take-out is located 4 miles north of the SR 19 and 40 junction at Juniper Wayside Park.

A paddle trip on the Silver River near Ocala features some of Florida's most beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. This short river with translucent blue springs has been described as magnificent and magical, but in 1873 Harriett Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin said it best with "There is nothing on earth comparable to it."

The headwaters start at Silver Springs, the world's largest natural artesian spring which produces nearly 550 million gallons of water each day. Because of the substantial flow, the paddle upstream can be strenuous but well worth the effort. Seven miles downriver, the crystal clear Silver meets the tea-colored Oklawaha River.

Spending the day on Silver River will reveal why the Silver Springs attraction bills itself as "Nature's Theme Park". Beside the subtropical landscape, the river is famous for its abundant wildlife. Anhingas, ducks, egrets, herons, ibis', hawks, limpkins and kingfishers are some of the many birds that inhabit the area.
The fish species is well represented by bluegill, sunfish, bass and prehistoric-looking Longnose Gar. If you have never seen one, gars are cylindrical fish up to four feet in length with long snouts and very sharp teeth. Reptiles are a-plenty too. Turtles and alligators can easily be spotted sunning themselves while lizards and snakes present more of a challenge.
One animal that you wouldn't expect to find in Central Florida is the Rhesus monkey. Several troops of these monkeys live wild along the length of the river. Legend has it the monkeys are descendants of escapees from Tarzan films shot at Silver Springs; however the Silver Springs theme park website lists the source as a concessionaire who operated the Jungle Cruise boat ride during the 1930s. The monkeys were placed on an island in the river and they simply swam off and disappeared into the neighboring forest.
For the past 30 years there has been discussion about removing the monkeys since they are not native to Florida, but due to their popularity the US Forest Service and various Fish & Wildlife agencies have been held at bay. No matter how cute they appear, the monkeys are dangerous. They will aggressively go after someone feeding them and feeding is prohibited by law. One bite from these not-so-friendly little creatures will leave you with a painful trip to an Ocala emergency room.
At the junction of I-75 and SR 40 (exit 352, old #69) in Ocala, turn east (right) on SR 40 and go 9 miles to the Silver Springs attraction. Continue past the theme park on SR 40 for 3 miles to Ray Wayside Park. The park is 1/4 mile west of Delks Bluff Bridge. A canoe launch is located at the far end of the park just past the boat ramps.

With a near constant year-round temperature of about 72 degrees, the tepid waters of Alexander Springs is the perfect watering hole on those sweltering Florida summers days

While the crystal-clear waters attract splish-splashing youngsters, Alexander Springs features a variety of activities that can make the perfect vacationing getaway for the entire family. The recreation area offers a 67-unit campground that can accommodate tents and recreational vehicles up to 35 feet. The campground does not offer electrical, water or sewer hookups, but hot showers and a dump station is provided.

Other than the campground, the Alexander Springs Recreation Area features hiking trails, canoe rentals, concession stand, an interpretive trail and a large picnic area.
"Our main attraction is probably scuba diving," Dick said. "We get quite a few scuba divers from Europe."
Scuba diving or snorkeling allows visitors to view the abundance of fish and underwater vegetation in the springs. Scuba diving is only permitted in the large spring boil and valid proof of certification is required.
For hikers, Alexander Springs offers several excellent resources. The Timucuan Trail, named after the Timucuan Indian tribe, is a 1.1-mile interpretive loop trail that highlights vegetation used by early Native Americans and is an outstanding location for wildlife viewing. Other nearby trails includes the Florida National Scenic Trail, which runs 66 miles through the Ocala National Forest. The 22-mile Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail is also nearby

Directions From the intersection of State Roads 19 and 40 in the Ocala National Forest, drive south on SR 19 about 9 miles and turn left (NE) on SR 445 and go about five miles to the well-signposted entrance to the Alexander Springs Recreation Area.
For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address: http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida
Spring Description The spring is set in a low area with thick sub-tropical forest on two sides and pines and hardwoods in a camping area on the other. The spring pool is a large semi-circle about 200 feet across and forming the headwaters of Alexander Creek. Water flows from a cavernous opening near the middle of the pool. The depth of the pool gradually increases to about 6 feet over the course of 60 feet. The bottom in this shallow portion is sandy. There is then a 40-foot-wide fringe of aquatic vegetation before the bottom falls away suddenly to reveal a large open area of exposed and sand-covered limestone rock and boulders. The area forms a sunlit trench that is 45 feet long, 10-25 feet wide, and about 28 feet deep. Water flows strongly from a large opening on the bottom on the beach side of the spring. Water in the spring is very clear and can be bright blue over the vent area. Flow from the spring creates a large and powerful surface boil that is readily visible from the shore.
Fish, including bluegill, may be observed swimming among the aquatic plants and over the trench. The spring run narrows outside the pool and winds first SE then NE a total of about 25 miles to the St. Johns River in the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. There is abundant wildlife in the run, including alligators.
The spring is a major recreation area in the Ocala National Forest and offers camping 67 sites for tents and RVs), hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing (with drop-off and pick-up for a fee), canoe rentals, rest rooms, bicycling (a 22-mile trail), concessions, picnic facilities, and showers.
There is an established and popular 7-mile canoe trail that begins just below the spring. Pick-up can be arranged for a fee.
The Alexander Springs Timucan Natural Trail, which begins by the spring, is a one-mile loop through the dense semi-tropical forest near the spring and its run. It also offers a couple of viewing platforms along Alexander Springs Creek.
Local Springiana
In the highlands above the spring, sand pines and oaks are twisted by the elements into contorted shapes. Sand at the spring is as white as beach sand (it is natural or has it been brought in?).
Trees and palmetto bushes offer privacy for tent campers at the spring.
Vultures roost in trees near the spring and may be observed in the main camping areas stealing unguarded food as well as garbage.
Alexander is a major scuba site and is very popular with divers.

Locations of visitors to this page