Monday, August 1, 2011

More Crystalline Florida Springs

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On a trip down to Florida from our farm in western Pennsylvania many years ago in the winter; We stopped in north central Florida and discovered Ichetucknee Springs. It was a cool overcast day with the possible threat of rain which actually was lucky for us as we got to experience the magic of the springs almost all to ourselves. On a warm day the river and springs can be jammed with people tubing and canoeing. Because the water is quite cold this does not happen on a cooler day. We hiked through a pine and palmetto forest to find this primeval Florida river running hidden in the middle of it. What magic. We rented tubes and floated down the river which runs so crystal clear and turquoise in the center you can see the bottom while on the edge of both sides of it are the blackwaters that one often sees in Florida full of ferns and other aquatic plants and wildlife. A family came with children that were whooping and screaming as they tubed down the river so we waited for them to get far ahead and then resumed our quiet float down the river. Alas their noise probably disturbed some of the wildlife we would have seen but at least we could appreciate the sounds of nature. I hope that more parents will learn to appreciate being quiet in nature so that we can perceive her subtle and wonderful sounds and pass it on to the offspring.

The Ichetucknee River is a spring-fed, pristine river in North Central Florida. The entire 6 miles (9.7 km) of the river average 20 feet (6.1 m) wide, 5 feet (1.5 m) deep and most of the 6 miles lie within the boundaries of the Ichetucknee Springs State Park while the rest is to the south of US Highway 27. Three Rivers Estates Property Owners (TREPO) is the property owner association that manages the area along the private side of the river as it travels & flows into the Santa Fe.
The name is derived from a Native American language, possibly Creek wa (water), echas (beaver), and toka or tomeka (because of, or caused by), meaning "beaver pond" (beaver remains are common in the riverbed). A Hitchiti informant to anthropologist John R. Swanton pronounced the name "Oetcotukni", and translated it as "where there is a pond of water", likely referring to a defunct beaver pond.[1]
The water in the river is crystal-clear and is 72 °F (22 °C) year-round. There are nine named springs within the Ichetucknee Springs group with an average total flow of 212 million gallons per day. The group includes: Ichetucknee Springs, Cedar Head Spring, Blue Hole Spring, Roaring Springs, Singing Springs, Boiling Spring, Grassy Hole Springs, Mill Pond Spring, and Coffee Spring. The Ichetucknee is a tributary of the Santa Fe River, which in turn flows into the Suwannee River before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.
The park restricts launch and end points along the river, permitting a tube/raft excursion of 45 min, 1.5 or 3 hours. A variety of commercial vendors, located outside the entrance to the park, rent tubes and rafts for a modest fee.

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