St. Mary's River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Day Trip Report
May 3, 2008
This being the first weekend of May, the weather was perfect for kayaking and canoeing. Craig, my co-worker, and I had spent the workweek looking out the office window to the St Johns River with a look reminiscent of schoolchildren waiting for spring break. The best we could do was to wait for the weekend.
Scotts Landing (N 30° 47.067’ W081 58.170’) is on the St. Mary’s River about forty mile north of Jacksonville, FL (where we live) and one mile east of US-1.
At about noon, we put in at the public boat ramp. We were in Perception Sundance II, fifteen-foot recreational tandem kayak, heading upstream with Traders Hill (N 30° 46.980’, W082° 1.472’) as our destination. We had a slight headwind, and stratus clouds filtered the sun.
This is the time of year, when all the leaves are vibrant yellow-green; dead wood is ash white from the winters leaching; and the birds are in full breeding plumage. I was excited upon seeing two Mississippi Kites gliding over the river and was overjoyed to finally after many years of birding, to see, a Prothonotary Warbler with all of its brilliant yellow plumage. We flushed over a dozen Spotted Sandpipers, and saw three on one log, a sign that this solitary birds were migrating to their Northern breeding grounds.
Many of the trees were full of flower, the grape vines were reaching out, and the spider lilies were blooming.
There was an occasional boat, some had angler, and others carried families out for the day. There was group of jet skiers, all slowed to leave no wake when they passed us.
Floating logs and fallen trees were covered with basking cooter and slider turtles. Our biggest surprise came when we saw what looked like a small alligator basking on a log. On closer examination, it turned out to be a large snake basking on the log. No exaggeration it was that big. The photographs helped me identify it as a Banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata fasciata), a harmless non-venomous snake. Harmless if you leave it alone, for "they will readily bite and exude a foul smelling musk."
Bird songs accompanied us along all along the route. I was able to recognize the Cardinals, Brown Wood Thrushes, Palliated Wood Peckers, Chimney Swifts, and Barn Swallows.
Our ten-a-half-mile round trip trek was a feast for our eyes, our ears, and our spirits.
There is a campground and a small store.
None for lunching, but there is for camping.
From Jacksonville, FL take US-1 Old New Kings Road, north. One mile south of GA/FL border, take road go east one mile, turn at boat ramp sign, go about quarter of mile.
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