Potts Preserve to Rainbow Springs State Park

February 17 & 18, 2015

WWW Map5

Follow our route from right to left starting at Marsh Bend Outlet Park (#1). Rainbow Springs is at #3 on the map.

TRIP DATA: February 17

Distance Paddled: 20.3 miles 

Moving Time: 4H, 36M

Moving Average: 4.4mph

Stopped Time: 33M, 01S

Overall Average: 3.9mph

Trip Duration: 5H, 9M

Trip Odometer: 37.2 miles


My usual morning routine on these trips is to get up early and pack up everything inside my tent. Then I head off for coffee and breakfast. That's what I did this morning. I was up at 6 AM, and had everything packed before 7 AM.  I took some gear to my boat then headed over for coffee.  As usual, I hadn't dropped my tent because I needed to change into paddling clothes just before we headed out. This usually works well; coffee at 7:15, breakfast at 7:30, pack up the tent at 7:50, on the water by 8:30.

But it didn't work out that way today.  Breakfast was late, and before it could be served a passing rain shower blew through. I ran to change my clothes and pack my tent, and almost missed breakfast.  I felt rushed and unsure that I had everything. In fact I left my coffee cup behind that day (Thank you Jill for recovering it!).   But I was still on the water by 8:17AM.

This river is extraordinarily beautiful, even on a gray overcast day. The magnificent Bald Cypress trees dripping with Spanish Moss and mixed with Oak, Maple, Tupelo and the occasional Palmetto, all beginning to leaf out in reds and that delicate new leaf green of early spring.  And the quiet, silence so deep, so elemental, that it swallows you up with feelings both ancient and timeless, and at the same time like you're seeing the Earth's first day. That's when I get this feeling that transcends time and space. This feeling that what I am experiencing is bigger then what is right in front of me.  The feeling that I am connected to the universe in some important way.  But then a Limpkin will squawk and bring me back to the river and the wind and the sound of my paddle. Some folks wonder why I like to paddle quietly, alone.  This is the reason. I have never experienced this feeling in a crowd.  Only outside, alone, in the silence.  (For more of my stories on the impact of silence, click on these links: A Walk in the Park and Winter Evening Encounter.) 

Withlacoochee 2/17 - 12

We made great time to our lunch stop, covering the eight miles in one hour and forty-nine minutes.  A passing shower encouraged me to nose in among the cypress roots to put on my paddling jacket. That proved to be a good decision as after lunch it began to rain again.  Soon it was raining hard with a strong wind blowing at us, or behind us, or over our heads in the trees as the river twisted and turned its way north and west toward the Gulf of Mexico.  With a little difficulty, we finally found our take-out just passed and across from the Rainbow River’s junction with the Withlacoochee. (Photo above: Vultures drying their wings between rain showers.)

This day was much different from the previous day, with cold temperatures, gray skies, wind and heavy rain.  But that's what makes an adventure!

A quick shuttle ride got us to Rainbow Springs State Park where I got my tent set up just minutes before it began to rain again.  It's been raining with greater and lesser intensity since then and still continues into the night.  We were able to commandeer the Park’s recreation hall for dinner and a great concert by the women's band “Patchwork”

Now I’m back in my new tent which is holding up well in the rain.

Rainbow Springs Layover Day

TRIP DATA: February 18, 2015

Miles Paddled: 0

Miles Walked: 5

Trip Odometer: 37.2 Miles

What a lazy day! 

Withlacoochee 2/18 - 9

I woke up at 6:50 and laid there till 7 AM, convincing myself I wanted to get out into the morning cold.  It was 47° in the tent, 45° outside. But up I got, pulled slacks over my long johns and climbed into my down jacket.  Grabbing my gloves and a coffee cup, watch cap on my head, I headed for the coffee pot and breakfast. This was to be a layover day.  No deadlines to be on the water.  No packing up of gear. No breaking camp. Time to do what ever we wanted.  For most of us that meant drying out our wet tents, clothing, and gear. Thankfully, my tent was dry as was most of my camping gear. But my paddling clothes, PFD, and other gear needed attention as did my boat. Fortunately the sun rose in a clear blue sky and the drying out began. 

Paul Gelderbloom welcomed each morning with a song played on his hammer dulcimer.

The sun was great for drying things and it was warm on the skin, But the day was cool, cold by some folks judgment, never getting out of the 60s and accompanied all day by a biting wind. Even so, some folks elected to drag their wet boats to the river and paddle up to the spring head. It was only a one mile paddle to the spring and the other half of this state park. But I elected to stay dry and not paddle, thinking there would be a trail between the two park halves. There is not. The land in between this camping area and the park’s namesake spring is private property. By road it's 7.5 miles one way. I wasn't into a 15 mile hike, so I stayed put. Even so, the day passed quickly allowing me to complete several housekeeping chores and still manage to top 12,000 steps and over 5 miles on my Fitbit.

By 5 PM the sun was sinking in the west and with it the temperature. I bundled up again in long johns and slacks, polartec vest, down jacket, watch cap and gloves and was still cold. I can't remember if there ever was another time when the tip of my nose was cold and beginning to run because of the weather in Florida!

After dinner we had a great presentation by Mary Mangiapia the first female to through paddle the 1500 mile Florida Saltwater Circumnavigation Trail. She did it nonstop in 95 days and was only the 13th person to complete the trail. 

After Mary's presentation I “hit the head" as they say (an old nautical term) and went straight to my tent. It was 47°. I pulled on more layers and prepared for a cold night predicted in the 20s. As one person in our group said, “Gee, next time we should plan a trip in Florida”.


 © Don Yackel 2020