A Sunday Morning at Wekiva Springs @ Apopka, Florida

For my many journeys into the Wekiva Basin, I hadn’t the opportunity to take underwater footage around the spring head until now. This quick video had embodied the sanctity of the spring head on a Sunday morning on July 18th, 2014. The story behind this visit was being turned away the previous day. The important secret for Wekiva Springs State Park most of the year, especially during weekdays, more so in the winter months, visitor traffic was light; however, on hot summer weekends, I had recommended getting there early, between 7 AM – 8 AM.


If you hadn’t known, Wekiva Springs was a 1st magnitude spring. Meaning the spring head had pushed out a tremendous amount of water, roughly 100 cubic feet per second. Another fact regarding the State of Florida, it was home to the most fresh water springs in the world. If you were interested learning more about other similarly classified state springs hop over to Apalacheehills.com’s List of First-Magnitude Springs in Florida. If already a visitor to Wekiva, I had recommended hitting these other 1st magnitude springs in Florida like Silver, Rainbow, Wakulla, Ichetucknee, Blue, Troy, Silver Glen, Weeki Wachee and Alexander. With summer 2014 drawing to close, I had simply thought to say “Jump in the water!”

Read More:
Basins: Middle St. John’s River: Wekiva River (sjrwmd.com)
Hydrology (Wikipedia)

 

What’s inside me? A water world of swimming and scuba lessons

Returning today from a scuba lesson from Florida’s Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest, I had pondered a question by a fellow classmate, ”Why challenge yourself with learning both things so close to together?” I had responded, “To expand possibilities.” Inside my mind, I had thought different motivations exist. With my 42nd birthday this December, how much time was left for my sight, muscles, joints, heart, or brain to carry out the maximum potential of certain experiences? No one knows when life had played your last card. Maybe, it was the competitive nature of keeping up with a friend younger than myself. Maybe, it was just fun or another avenue for cardio. For the most part, ego had provided the motivation for a journey back into water.

With swimming, I had never learned really how to swim confidently without fins, mask or snorkel as a child in the Bahamas. This bad precedent, a decision of my own, I had never revisited until this year. As a Navy brat, I had lived most of my life within an hour or less from the ocean. After returning stateside from Andros Island, Bahamas to the murky delta waters of the St. John’s River and Jacksonville Beaches, I had lost an inspiration to adventure out to the shore. The contrasting experience, in my opinion, was insurmountable. This October, with recent wear and tear on my ankles and knees from jogging, I had figured, “What a good time to switch horses for cardio!” The past two months, I had rotated to swims at my pool, the gym, fresh water springs, and the ocean. Steadily, I had improved but, elderly men and women left me in their wake leisurely. Part of the frustration of learning swimming was expending too much energy on keeping my head above water and engaging appendages full throttle. Reflecting on weight training from my 20s to now, this activity was counterintuitive. Swimming was not about power but, graceful breathing. This past Monday, I had finally gotten to 16 laps in the gym pool. This Friday, I had finally achieved an uninterrupted lap around the perimeter of Wekiva Springs swimming area. Both events had underscored the value of swimming as a good substitute for running and learning something new!

That second point had brought me to Scuba lessons. A friend had floated the suggestion of getting certified. I had figured why not add another dimension to adventures for the upcoming year; however, the past couple of weeks, I had stressed myself out with budgeting money, time, and health to work through tomorrow, my final day of a Padi Scuba class. During training, an instructor had rightfully told me, “Relax underwater.”  I had translated that into “don’t freak out man.” Easy to say, if failing was a familiar refrain. My instructor, Bob, had gladfully provided support to make this endeavor, fun and fulfilling. If you hadn’t understood his memory imprinting with certain repetitive tasks, perhaps you might be missing the point in the real world.

With final day of class tomorrow, I had aimed to “freak out” less, relax and the enjoy the submersion into the waters around Rainbow Springs State Park. Epiphanies had never come when you expect them but, with effort lies opportunity. In that potential, I had asked the question to try to find, “What’s inside me? What’s inside you?”

For Scuba lessons:

In Central Florida, I had recommended checking out Paul and Bob at Seminole Scuba. For more information, www.seminolescuba.com Address: 3869 Lake Emma Rd, Lake Mary, FL 32746 Phone:(407) 333-8856

For swimming:

Checkout,  Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida, or if too cold, La Fitness’s heated saltwater pool in Winter Park, Florida

Read More:
Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest – Florida (GarzaFX)
Rainbow Springs State Park -Dunnellon, Florida (GarzaFX)
Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida (GarzaFX)

swim

Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest – Florida

Driving back through Ocala National Forest a few times this year, my eyes had fallen onto a sign for Alexander Springs. After a hitting few other springs this past weekend, I had decided to try following this sign onto a dirt road. After redirecting myself back onto a highway, I had found the entrance to Alexander Springs Recreation Area traveling down on  County Road 445. After arriving, I had scoped out the park taking a brief swim in the springs waters. What had intrigued me, the hiking options. Going onto the Timucuan Trail, the loop had gone into woods behind the main creek area. Some portions of the trail had been saturated with rain water coverting the dirt into thick mud. Mud aside, the only excitement had come from a few mosquitoes and seeing the tail end of a fleeing rattlesnake. Towards the end of this loop, the ground had been replaced by a wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk had provided riverside access with two overlooks for the creek. Another reason for the pit stop had been to get a feel for the location for possible scuba lessons. One item that had caught my eye, the proximity to the Florida trail. The Florida Trail had pretty much run into Alexander Springs recreation area. The park had seemed like a good detour, if hiking thru.

Though carrying Florida State Park’s annual pass holder, this federally run park had still wanted their cut of my money! Be sure that you had stored an extra $10 somewhere for admission. Additionally, you had an option to buy a Ocala National Park annual pass for $60 at the gate. For reference that pass had covered Juniper Springs, Salt Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and Salt Springs to start. If you had been considering hiking in central Florida, might be worth a stop to swim.

Read More:
Alexander Springs (www.floridasprings.org)
Ocala National Forest – Alexander Springs – USDA Forest Service (www.fs.usda.gov)
Florida Trail (Wikipedia)
Timucuan Trail (www.fs.usda.gov)

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