Sunday, May 08, 2016

A Day on the Wacissa River.

I have yet to see anyone agree on the spelling of the Wacissa River. Add to this the fact that there were confusing maps and information that claimed that there are two such named rivers in Florida and it compounds the problem. From speaking to people, the pronunciation of the river is WOCK-suh. A name from one of the Native American tribes, of course, but I'm not sure which nation.

We finally settled on one information source and headed to what we were told was the put-in point to paddle the river.Our destination was a tributary that appears whole from the earth from a series of powerful freshwater springs that emerge from the limestone karst geography in that part of Florida. What we found was a classic spring-fed river with clear, blue water. We were near there last year and didn't kayak the river, opting to do something else. Later, after we'd heard what a great place it is for springs, we regretted our initial choice and had penned this one in to visit on this trip.

We arrived at the boat launch location which is a very, very pretty county park. There is a really substantial parking area and two boat launches: one for kayaks and canoes, and the other for motorboats. In addition there is a beautiful grassy area and a small beach for swimming in the clear, blue water. We did see some alligators around, but small ones, and it didn't seem to worry the locals.

After we unloaded the kayaks and talked to a Florida Wildlife officer we put our kayaks in the river and headed downstream to where we were told we'd find the biggest of the area springs. Along the way we spotted a couple of more alligators, including one that looked to be seven feet or so in length. So I know that there are some large ones in the river. I'm always careful when it comes time to swim or snorkel where gators could be present and watch to see how the locals handle it.

When we got to the spring we were impressed. It was discharging an amazing amount of water. This one (Big Blue Spring) has a fair amount of limestone dissolved in solution and the water is a deep blue rather than the clear blue one encounters in springs such as the ones at Ichetucknee.

We beached our kayaks near some trees overhanging the spring, had lunch, and decided to go swimming. There were other people swimming and using the ropes to swing out over the very deep waters of the spring to drop in from a height of ten feet or so.

After spending about an hour there we boarded our kayaks and explored the spring run that curled into the deep forest and back again to the main channel of the Wacissa. We could hear a truly symphonic amount of bird songs as we paddled along.

Soon we headed leisurely back up the Wacissa against the current, stopping to  visit some of the smaller springs along the route, including Curtis Spring which I'd like to visit again to swim in. It has some cool limestone tunnels that you can traverse that are short in length and no danger to snorkel. We are planning to go back to this park again as soon as we can to hit some of the springs we missed.

Some hours after departing, we returned to the county park where I took the kayaks out of the water and tossed them back onto the carriers on the truck. Securing them,  we hit the road to return to our base at the Suwannee River State Park.

The park. A really big parking area, some picnic tables. a small sandy beach, a rope swing hanging from a truly huge cypress tree and some portable toilets and two boat launches (one for motorboats and one for kayaks/canoes).

Selfie in front of one of the big cypress trees.

I sit in the weeds to get this photo of Carole.

Typical view along the Wacissa River.

One of the locals.

This young woman was using the rope swing to fall into the deep waters of the spring.
The water here was very clear and very, very deep.

Along the spring run.

We head leisurely back upstream, visiting some of the smaller springs along the way.

An overview of our float and swim on the Wacissa River.

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