Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lithia Springs

Carole and I love to bag the various springs in Florida. Our favorites are the first-magnitude springs, of course. But we also enjoy the second and third-magnitude springs. Lithia Springs was on our list so since we knew we were going to be in that area, we made a special effort to drive over to go swimming and snorkeling there. Once again, it's not a state park site but a county park. This time it's Hillsborough County that owns the spring and environs. There's beautiful forest and even hills around the spring, but unfortunately some nearby land was not protected and there's some kind of huge construction going on at one side of the park. I couldn't tell what it's going to be--but anything is bad news for the park, considering the proximity of the development. Even if it's a golf course it's going to screw up the wild feel of the forest and streams.

Since we visited on a weekday we didn't have to deal with crowds. Considering one lot of low-class jerks who seemed to be everywhere at once, I can only shudder at what it must be like when the place is packed. So I'm really happy that we were able to sample the spring on such a low-attendance day.

As springs go, it's fairly impressive. The deepest sections are right above the spring head, about nine or ten feet deep. The spring has been covered with an iron grate to keep the local idiots from killing themselves in the cave system from which the water pours. There also seems to be some kind of water extracting going on above the spring--I suspect either the county uses it as a freshwater source or perhaps a bottling company. At any rate, someone appears to be drawing water out of the aquifer there.

Despite the minor quibbles we had with the park, it's well worth a trip if you can arrange it on a day when the spring isn't packed cheek by jowl with humans.

The sight of the springs that greeted us after we paid admission at the park gate and changed into our bathing suits. There were only about a dozen other people there, so it wasn't hard to get a shot with no people in it.

I dove under the surface and began to swim toward the main spring. This was just above one of the rock shelves.

The spring has been covered with a metal grate to keep people out of the extensive cave system that permeates the soluble limestone rock through which the water pours. The mist looking clouds are sand dislodged by others from the rock shelf. The spring pressure sends it back up, making it appear cloudy in places.

I liked the dappling effect of sunlight filtering through the clear spring water.

Lying on the floor of the spring.

The weather was good to us the whole trip. This was typical of what we faced each day.

A stitched panorama of the entire spring area. Deepest section farthest from me. I used the cheap underwater camera for this image, so it's not very good.

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