Saturday, April 15, 2006

Florida -- Merritt’s Mill Pond

Spring break trip mission: camping, fishing, and kayaking. Inspired by Peggy of paddletales we headed to Florida around Tallahassee for a few days, April 11-13th. We took the dog, Jazz, which limited our options somewhat but was fun. She’s a good boat dog and did fine in the john-boat. For the road trip, the kayak rode on top of the john-boat which we pulled on a trailer, and the dog rode in the Truck backseat with Tyler. We had the tent and all that ready and loaded in the truck, but we were trying to do a lot already so we kept it simple and rented one of the cabins at Merritt’s Mill Pond Arrowhead Campground. That turned out to be a winner because the highlight of the trip for Tyler was renting the paddleboats, particularly the barracuda which is like a jet ski and has a prop instead of a paddle wheel.

I did a kayak venture about halfway up the pond on Tuesday afternoon. Got to the power lines and just a bit beyond. There’s a strange humming in the woods just north of the power lines. Don’t know what that could be. Other than that it’s a quiet, peaceful place. A lot of houses and docks, but still mostly natural surroundings.

Very blue, clear water! There’s a lot of grass and algae and that covers half the bottom. It’s strange, makes you feel like you’re on a magic carpet floating 12 feet high, looking down on bushes, grass, and trees. Turtles and fish are easy to spot swimming around. Some of the plants make it hard to paddle through. Once my paddle snagged and I almost had to drop the paddle or flip the boat, but at the last second it let go. I didn’t have a lot of time before sunset so I headed back.

Wednesday we took the boat up to the top of the lake. The recreation area was closed, but we found one of the large springs (THE large spring?) on the west side under a rocky cliff. I was fascinated with the water coming up out of the spring and how it made kaleidoscope patterns with the rocks. Dang it -- my camera batteries died just before we got to it. New mission! I knew I had to make it back in the kayak later in the day. So a little while later I set off from the campground again, went all the way to the top of the pond, and visited the spring again. Got some good pictures this time.

It was a long trip back since I haven’t done any long trips lately, but felt great. The general conditioning I’ve done lately, jogging, spinning, biking, walking, seems to make a difference in stamina even though I haven’t been paddling much. Well, now’s the season, so I intend to paddle a lot if I can figure out the transportation challenges.

The pond was a beautiful place to camp and kayak.

1 comment:

Peggy said...

How completely cool to read someone else's report of paddling at a spot familiar to me! And what great pictures!

My first impression the first time on Merritt was also that it was like flying above the ground--the water is almost as clear as air so it's not like being in a boat. (Hard to explain unless you have been there!)

I also stayed in a cabin at Arrowhead. It was badly in need of airing, but I was still glad I wasn't in a tent in that particular place. Lots of permanent residents, eh?

Super trip report!