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October 28, 2012

Mo’ Better Kayaking

by Brendan

Rick, Chris, and I kayaked the upper part of the Santa Fe River on Thursday (2 days ago).  We started at the Highway 441 boat ramp and paddled upstream all the way to River Rise, which is a considerable paddle for a lightweight like me — against a good bit of current, about 3 miles.

River Rise is where the Santa Fe River comes back above ground after having gone underground for about a half mile or so.  It’s remarkably un-spectacular, actually — no torrent of water bubbling out of the ground like a huge fountain, no vortex, no maelstrom.  The river just stops, there’s some land, and there’s no apparent activity.  It’s the same on the other end where the river goes underground — it’s just no longer there, and again no maelstrom spinning unsuspecting boaters or swimmers around and sucking them into the earth.

Of course, the way back to the boat ramp was much easier, being downstream with a good current.  We saw the usual dozens of turtles, a few nice birds, hawks and herons, and one 5-foot alligator.   The gator was sunning himself on the bank, and I happened to be closest, maybe 15 feet away.  As I drifted by, Mr. Gator slipped into the river and went under; of course,

Santa Fe River gator, Spring 2010, with babies

I had fantasies & fears that he was going to come back up fast and jump into my kayak.  But never saw him again.

The picture above is not the gator we saw Thursday, but the one we all saw (Pam and I, Nancee, Lauren, and Lee) in the Spring of 2010 on the banks of the Santa Fe River.  No one noticed until later (when Pam looked at the picture on her large Mac monitor) that Mama Gator had a lot of baby gators on her or near her — outlined in blue, all 9 of them.   Wow, 10 gators all at once!

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