Blue Springs Trip Report


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Gary Brady | VCKC
Published Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Date: September 26, 2007

Number of Paddlers: 41, 12 Canoes, 10 Kayaks (1 tandem), 6 Private Yaks

Travel Time: The trip from Mulberry to Blue Springs State Park took approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. No serious traffic problems and directions were simple and accurate.

Outfitters:

In the park we used the park services for canoe rentals and St. Johns River Cruises for kayak rentals. Equipment was in good condition, although I did hear comments regarding kayaks being heavy and harder to paddle (sit-ons). Both outfitters were very accommodating and were prepared for us upon arrival.

Weather Conditions:

A comfortable morning paddle with some showers in area that did “surprise” some of our paddlers. Once you left the actual spring area it got hotter with no real shade cover. Only one person elected for the longer 10 mile paddle where heat could become a factor. All others made it a leisurely paddle staying around the springs where it was cooler and more canopy cover.

Blue Springs and River:

The most enjoyable part of the trip was the area around the spring head and swimming area. Before 11:00AM you could paddle right up to and over the spring. Crystal clear water made viewing of an abundance of fish and aquatic life easy and enjoyable. We saw a huge variety of fish, but the gar reaching 3 to 4 feet was the most impressive. Although it wasn't the season for manatee in the area, at least two of these wonderful creatures forgot that, to the delight of many in our group. Also spotted where river otters, turtles, gators and a variety of bird life. One smaller gator (3 feet) seemed to enjoy showing off to our paddlers, as he showed no fear and continued to swim in circles in the middle of half a dozen of our boats.

When we got out into the actual river and paddled around a series of small islands, less was observed in the way of wildlife. The natural shore environment was pretty, but many of our paddlers drifted back to the more scenic and active spring area. A handful of our group took the courageous plunge into the 72 degree water of the spring.

Group Enjoyment and Difficulty:

Feedback suggested to me people had a good time and, for a change, enjoyed the flexibility of paddling as much or as little as they wanted. We did have one canoe go over, but it was “pilot error” and not caused by any difficulties with river conditions (who rocked the boat!). The majority of our members were out for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Some paddled back to shore to take a break and then went out for a second paddle. Unless you elected to go on the 10 mile loop this was a very easy and relaxing trip. I did not have an opportunity to get feedback from the one person who took the longer loop. I have done it, and in hot weather it was tiring. Would recommend the longer run only in cooler weather.

Post Trip Lunch:

Lunch was at Pier 16's Fish House Restaurant, a short five minute drive from the park. The food was excellent and reasonably priced. Wait staff were efficient and everyone was served in a timely manner. The one problem was that we originally asked to be seated across the back section of the restaurant so we could all be reasonably close together. That didn't happen and we were scattered throughout the place. I managed to make the rounds and talk to everyone who seemed happy!

Additional Note:

Joining us on this trip were a reporter and photographer from the Daily Sun (Katie and Mark). Ted and I rented canoes and took the two of them on the morning paddle. Mark took numerous pictures of paddlers, and Katie managed to interview many of our members (mostly at the restaurant because of logistics). We are looking forward to an extensive article in the Sunday supplement in the near future.

Respectfully submitted, Gary R. Brady

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008



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