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Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna Florida Apr 2009

buckisland1950

Well-Known Member
Aug 15, 2007
191
0
Savannah, GA
This past weekend we went to Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna Florida. We paddled on the Chipola on Friday and Saturday. The river had been flooded for the past few weeks but was dropping fast and at a good level (around 10 feet) for paddling although it was quite muddy. The park is great and has a lot to offer. The Chipola river flows thru the park and there is a cavern for touring on the property. They even have a golf course right outside the parks main gate.

Friday we put in at the boat ramp on Hwy 167 just outside the parks entrance.



We paddled downriver and found a small cave on the right bank. With no good flashlights and water still in the cave we only explored a short distance into the interior.



Further downstream we found a small creek feeding from a spring and paddled up to the mouth for a refreshing but cool swim.




We paddled down to the takeout on Hwy 280 and found this legless friend just before taking out at the boat ramp.





The park has a wonderful cavern that they offer tours down into. Although it had been flooded we were able to take a condensed tour and it was well worth the few dollars they charge.






Saturday found us back on the Chipola, this time we put in upstream from the park on Hwy 162.



Upstream was quite a bit tighter with lots of deadfalls to paddle around, thru and over. The river is canopied by trees a lot of the way and is very remote. This is the old Bellamy Bridge that crosses the river but is no longer used.



Picture of the canopy as you paddle downstream.




Another local resident but this one is nicer.




The trip to the takeout in the park is supposed to be 5 miles but we wandered around and explored some and did 7.5 miles in all. There are some springs just before the takeout but by that time we were tired and didn't paddle up to either of them.


Sunday my wife and I played 9 holes (actually 8, we missed one somewhere) but with our talent of swinging clubs it just made our scores look better. That afternoon two of us went to Merritts Mill Pond and paddled up to the spring for a relaxing afternoon swim. Access is a boat ramp on Hunter Fish Camp Road and the spring is 2 miles from the put in. This is a popular lake for boating but the traffic wasn't bad as it was a Sunday afternoon. It's very popular for cave diving and we talked with several divers at the Spring.


Lots of Spanish Moss draped Cypress trees in the lake.



The spring itself.





Lots of Vultures were around waiting for careless divers?




Calm water in the late afternoon.



We did 4 miles round trip up to the spring and back, a very pleasant afternoon. This is a great place to paddle and relax.
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,650
108
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Nice report, Franke. Looks like a nice trip, too. Nice that you and your Wife could enjoy both each other, and the trip together.

There MUST be something useful that those moccasins do? Do they eat rats? Or some other darned pest?
 

bearridge

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
3,092
4
way down yonder
Dang Franke,

That wuz nice. I wish yer pichurs wuz jest a bit bigger. Ya'll took some mitey good ones. Now if ya jest git the hang of landscapes. [grin]

regards
bearridge

ps Where wuz Steeler Dawg?

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to 99 cents a can. That's almost $7.00 in dog money. Joe Weinstein
 

buckisland1950

Well-Known Member
Aug 15, 2007
191
0
Savannah, GA
Bear:

I don't go anywhere without Steeler Dog aka Gator Dog aka Devil Dog aka Sparky aka Shi Thead! He's right where he always is, in the front of the boat (unless the wife is there and then he's very unhappy!) Glad you liked the pictures, it was a great trip.

 

gbinga

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2008
736
2
Hoschton, GA
Jimmy W said:
I can't see the head very well, but I am pretty sure that snake isn't a moccasin. I think that it is a non-poisonous water snake as shown here. http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Nerodia+sipedon There are several sub-species and the coloration and patterns are variable.
I just noticed that the accepted name of the genus has changed since I took herpetology in college. My field guide is out of date.

I was wondering about that... I thought they almost always lost most of their coloring when they get that big. They get dark, to where you don't even see the diamond pattern unless you are up (way too) close.

On the other hand, North Georgia boys don't get to see that many of them. We have big healthy Eastern Diamondbacks, but where I live is normally too far North for Cottonmouths.

What say some of you swamp folk - moccasin or no?

George
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,650
108
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Where I live is too far north for cotton mouth, coral snake, copper heads, and large diamond backs. We do have a small rattler, a massasauga. About 10"-12" they buzz when disturbed, and run the rest of the time. Really bad pest when camping here is a black fly. They can bite bad.
 

Jimmy W

Well-Known Member
May 1, 2006
611
1
north georgia, USA
I enlarged the photo as much as I could and decided that it most probably is a cottonmouth. Where I grew up in the Mississippi delta, grown ones are very dark without any obvious patterns as George said. He is also correct that we are north of their range here in Northern Georgia.
 

bearridge

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
3,092
4
way down yonder
Friend Jimmy,

I tip my e-hat ta ya.

respectfully
bearridge

The best minds are not in government.  If any were, business would hire them away.  Ronald Reagan
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,650
108
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
I think we should get a volunteer to go back, get bitten, and let HER tell us. You guys remind me of the 13th century monks who sat around debating how many teeth in a horse's mouth. When the stable boy, who had actually counted them, reported the number, they whipped him for sacrilegious behavior.
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,192
70
77
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
Kayak Jack said:
I think we should get a volunteer to go back, get bitten, and let HER tell us. You guys remind me of the 13th century monks who sat around debating how many teeth in a horse's mouth. When the stable boy, who had actually counted them, reported the number, they whipped him for sacrilegious behavior.
There are only ...TWO... that count and they are what folks call hypodermic needles , ya know those things that go in the body and squirt out nasty juice.

That's a good old fashion Cotton Mouth and nothing to play with , unless ya are a dam fool , they have a nasty / aggressive temperament.


Jack... I am always willing to help a friend. :roll: If you want to check her bite , let me know and I will set you up with a trip on the Econ , there are lots of them on that river. Heck with some luck ( not much required) you might meet all her relatives before getting off the river. :lol: Plus you are correct that has to be a Her , the females ones are always larger then the males and that one is good sized. Nothing to play with.

If you follow the part that is in the water , up and along the body then back you can see her head or a small portion of it looking over her back. The main area where the armament is while watching the paddlers taking her picture. I'm surprised no one has noticed that. :wink:

Here is a picture of the biting end , notice the markings on the body , the same as the one in question , like there was any dought of that. Plus notice the aft section ( That is the rear for land lubbers) how it does not taper down nice like most snakes do , a real give away as to who the owner is.
( A larger picture so Jack and Bear can see it ) :p


Chuck.
 

gbinga

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2008
736
2
Hoschton, GA
Chuck's picture looks like the ones I've seen. A couple in local zoos, and one on my mother in law's farm down in South Georgia. Dull color, markings not bright or well defined. They seem to run unusually thick in the body, and flattened, sort of, in the aft end. Of course when you see the big triangular head on a grown one all the doubt goes away about what you are dealing with.

I still think the one in the other picture is unusual. Maybe they are differently colored in different parts of the country or according to the time of year?? Or perhaps according to the environment they live in...?

George
 

bearridge

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
3,092
4
way down yonder
Friend George,

That cottonmouth iz the way they look. Ya got it rite on the fat 'n stubby. I pointed out 4-5 of 'em ta the Commodore 'n Ray the first time I went down the St. Mary with the Paddlin' Geezer Canoe Clud. It wuz early spring 'n they wuz kinda sluggish. I dont care fer 'em. Seen too many 'n seen what they done ta the folks they bit....even a baby cottonmouth kin hurt ya bad.

regards
bearridge

Anyone who hates dogs and loves whiskey can't be all bad.  W. C. Fields