Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Little Further Down The Waccasassa

After spending too much time poking around the suspicious hollowed log/possible dugout canoe, I paddled farther downstream. Actually, I did more wading than paddling since the sandy bottom was so inviting. Beneath the light colored sand layer is a smooshy grey clay. I'm not a potter, but it seemed like good clay.

There's a lot of evidence of earlier logging days at this one point along the river. The bottom is littered with a jumble of squared timbers and this square nail and spike were hidden just beneath the sands. A little vigorous fanning with my hand uncovered them.


I cropped the above photo of one of the squared timbers so you could see the cool brown tubes that some aquatic insect larvae have built atop it. Not being a bugnerd, I don't know who did this ... maybe a caddisfly, stonefly or a relative? You might need to click on the pic to get a better view of the tubes.

Here are those trestle pilings I keep mentioning. You can actually navigate through them, even though it doesn't look like it in this photo. It's a little tricky to do in a 16 foot canoe, but not a big deal.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time out of the canoe, wading, and snooping around for fossils. On this particular day, I didn't travel far enough downstream (weather was turning ominous) to get to the better areas, but I did pull up a few tortoise shell fossil bits. Nothing worth keeping though.

The general procedure is to use your hands to fan a depression in the sand, let the current sweep the cloudy water away, then examine the depression for "treasures".

I'm embarrassed to say how much time I can blissfully spend doing that.

There may not have been fossils leaping into my hands on this trip, but there sure are a lot of freshwater clams and mussels in the sandy stretches where the current runs quickly. The bottom is literally paved with them.
That 's a good sign really. As bioindicators, these bivalves generally indicate clean water.


There seemed to be two species.

I am a bit of a mollusc nerd, but alas, I'm more proficient at marine molluscs so these two freshwater plankton slurpers remain officially unidentified.

With my attention focused on the sandy bottom, I failed to notice the gathering storm clouds until a booming roll of thunder got my attention. Just as well, immediately in front of me were multiple portages and the weather was saying I might go to all that clambering trouble, just to have to turn around and do it over.

In fact, the tree tops were already doing the downdraft sway and the thunder was more insistent, so reluctantly, I turned around and paddled back upstream. The idea of paddling through a swamp of tall trees as lightning blasted around me was not very appealing.

Been there done that.

Remember the Oklawaha trip, Kevin?

In Florida, our streams flow so gently, (in a relaxed southern manner)that we can paddle upstream against the current with only a little effort. I made pretty good time and in a little while I was back at the bridge where I had put in to the river.

Waiting for me in his patrol truck, was a game warden. He watched from the truck while I unloaded my gear. I was glad I had brought the life jacket even though it's pretty ridiculous on a tiny stream like the Waccasassa. It is the law and I knew if I left it at home I'd run into an officer. As it turned out, I did anyway.

He got out of his truck and came over to check me out.

"I figured this weather would bring you back" he said. He eyed the ultralight fishing rod in the canoe, "Any luck?"

I told him (honestly) that I had tossed a line a few times, but with no takers.

We talked for a while until the rain drops began to fall and it was time to go. I finished tying the canoe to my trailer, hopped in the JEEP, and drove home in a drenching rain which ended about a half mile from my parched homestead.

Just another day in Pure Florida.


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18 comments:

Rurality said...

Loved these last 2 posts! Sweet.

Making fun of the governor on a blog seems to have worked really well for me, as rain dances go. We've had rain 2 days in a row!

BTW your lumberjack spike looks just like the railroad spikes we find here.

pissed off patricia said...

Just went back and read some comments from the other day. You mentioned that I should try mowing. I mowed my mom and dad's yard for many many years(old fashioned push mower, no power but my own) and I have done the same to our yard (new fashioned power mower) many times. I know all about mowing but as Mr Pop would tell you, he feels he does some of his best thinking while he's mowing. He won't even hire someone to do our yard, he wants to do it.

Just wanted to set you straight on that subject. :)

robin andrea said...

Best way to spend a day, movng your hand through the water, watching the cloudy water drift away and finding treasures. It's the closest thing to being both a kid and an adult at the same time. We had thunder and lightning the other day too. A nice downpour followed.

Floridacracker said...

Rurality,
Well it's a logging railroad spike so that fits. They had a little spur in here to haul out logs ... I think.
I will begin making fun of your governor immediately if it will bring rain.
:)

POP,
Uh oh, hit a nerve, consider me straightened!
:)
I know what Mr POP means about mow thinking. I usually write a post in my head while I mow.

Floridacracker said...

Robin,
Any kind of treasure hunt usually holds my interest. I think today might be the day for rain at PF HQ.

Deb said...

I was wondering how you managed a river canoe trip by yourself; paddling back upstream never occurred to me!

I'll gladly make fun of your governor if it means you'll get some rain.

threecollie said...

Wonderful posts....thanks. I love treasure hunting too and adding water into the mix just makes it better. Loved the otter and limpkin photos!

Cathy S. said...

Oh, this makes me regret that we cancelled our week at the Rainbow River this year. It will be the first time in over a decade that we don't get there for our annual retreat where all I do is sit in a tube and float in the cold water for one solid week. But with both kids gone for the summer, we did our east coast trip instead where it was stinking hot. Maybe a weekend on the river will suffice once all my chicks return safely back to the nest in the August. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I even feel slightly cooler!

SophieMae said...

What a perfect way to spend your solitary Saturday! All those treaures! You and Peggy are gonna make me a paddler yet. 8-]

I wasted the whole day doing not much of anything. Didn't even leave the house till around 10PM when I was forced to make a WallyWorld run for essentials. On the plus side, we had a right decent thunderstorm for about 40+/- minutes. The thunder grumbled for hours after. In Port Orange, we'd often get those frustratng rains that stopped just short of our place. Finally dubbed the area the Tanglewood Triangle.

I read about those canoes they found in Newnan's Lake. Totally fascinating! There are some Newnan's in my family tree, but I have yet to pursue that particular line.

kevin said...

I remember the trip. I'd like to try it again one of these days.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Waccassassa? Is that one of them streams that lure Paddle Tales? Or is just one of them funny-named streams, which it probably is.

Floridacracker said...

Deb,
I included that part about the gentle current for that very reason. It actually did rain just a little today.

ThreeCollie,
Glad you could come along. Otters and limpkins qualify as treasure too in my book.

Cathy S,
I remember going to Rainbow Springs as a kid when it was a private attraction. My son goes down with a friend of his (they have a cabin on the river) each year for some float time.


Sophie,
I want a kayak like Peggy's.
I was beginning to think I had some kind of rain shield over the place, but it actually rained a little this afternoon. Those Newnan canoes were found initially by a logger who specializes in recovering old waterlogged timbers as I recall.
Pretty amazing collection of dugouts.


Kevin,
I wonder how much it's changed in 30ish years.

Hoss,
I bet Peggy's been on it.
The name is Creek Indian and it means "Place of Cows".

Ol' Lurker said...

I think I can ID your two bivalves for you. The one on the right is a Big Mussel, and the one on the left is a Little Mussel. No need to thank me. Glad to help.

Floridacracker said...

Ol Lurker,
There ya go, I knew an expert would step forward and ID these critters.
This internet thingie is amazing.
:)

kevin said...

Seems like only 3 years ago. I think kayaks and better rain gear would help with the next trip.

misti said...

Amazing adventure! The log does look like a canoe. The Miccosukee Tribe still has a few at one of their boat landings, though unused and in serious need of some work. It's hard to imagine that they paddled around like that through the Everglades. Crazy stuff!

John said...

Hi, did you ever find out if that Wacassassa canoe was indeed an old dugout?

BTW I really enjoy your pictures and words. Nice blog!

Jason said...

Nice blog.

The two bivalves in one of the photos above look to be:

Smaller clams:
Corbicula manilensis, also refered to as C. fluminea (Asiatic clam)

Larger mussels:
Elliptio icterina (variable spike)

Again, nice commentary on the Waccasassa River.