Thursday, September 9, 2010

'Econfina Spring to swim in, so I just jumped in the Crick: North Bay County, FL (Yellow)

Heey y'all PC beechers! So the main watersource feeder of Panama City, Econfina Creek, is also lined with natural springs on its upper section. Again, most of 'em are only accessible by canoe, and the public spring (Pitt) was closed for renovations when I tried to visit it. Near the closed park and the FL-20 bridge is a canoe launch, fairly popular with locals who suggested I just swim in the river. So I did - jumped in the yellow-toned clear sandy water and waded/dog-paddled up the current to the spring exit and back down, and it was exactly as desired - wild yet calm, safe yet with solitude, each river a distinctly unique experience and the greatest gift to the towns they serve. From PC: go up FL-77, turn right at Hwy 20, go a few miles till you see the sign for Econfina Creek Canoe Livery, then it's at both sides of the bridge, on the left. As they say, "nothin' could be finer than the econfina!"

Monday, September 6, 2010

that sweet sweet emerald Chipola: Marianna, FL (Green)

Last year when touring Florida's natural springs, I just barely mentioned the Chipola River, going underground on the escarpment in Florida Caverns State Park. Well, we come to find out it is fed by almost 65 springs, from its initial rise on the Alabama/Florida border through Marianna, its emerald-toned water and holy limestone banks winding along, often only a mile from civilization but feeling far removed from it. Spring Creek (aka Jackson Blue Springs) is its largest tributary, and it contains several springs, mostly only accessible via water travel.
You can get in at Spring Creek county (Jackson) Park off US-90 just outside of town, by the Chipola Greenway from a dirt road off FL-73 between downtown and the bridge over I-10, or one of several boat landings upstream or downstream from these. The upper Chipola feels oh so magical, sweet, and pure! but closer to the Dead Lakes and its swampy merges with the Apalachicola it turns into a "regular" dark coastal river.

HELL is full of Cypress Trees and Lilypads (Brown and occasionally Red)

when I talked last year about the wildness of natural Florida I missed a few places...namely that east bank of the mostly undeveloped Apalachicola River, with the Apalachicola National Forest, a town called Sumatra, and the most unwelcoming-named parkland ever, Tate's Hell State Forest!
When we first arrived the swamp was strangely silent, and the complex network of gravel roads was very confusing with occasional mudholes. But after a night camping under bright moonlight with a shore breeze, we found the forest teeming with wildlife- deer, an eagle, owls just after dawn, however they make themselves scarce so you won't see them unless you're on foot in the woods. Dwarf- cypress trees stand among the pines in some swampier areas, and there are interesting finds in others...and a fountain spring by our campsite, near the slow, dark waters of the New River..

for the story of Cebe Tate and the origin of the forest name... and for official park information...