A Return to Troy Springs State Park @ Branford, Florida

An acquaintance had defined fresh water springs as simply, “A hole in the ground with water in it.” For some, the confining nature of a closed body of water with little aquatic life had probably fit that description. With my affinity for the crystal blue waters of Andros Island, Bahamas, that assessment was probably on point; however, questions had motivated my return to Troy Springs State Park @ Branford, Florida. Questions of unknown sights, limits, and connections had helped steer my vehicle across a three hour drive to the heart of north Florida.

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Upon arrival, my first question about the park being underutilized had gone out the window. A group of scuba divers had conducted training drills filling the park with chatter and foot traffic. So, my friend and I had opted to wait for the activity to clear.

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Patiently, I had sat on a wooden bench by the spring boil thinking of my second set of questions. What was beyond the darkness on the surface? What had concerned a dive shop owner to recommend staying clear of this descent after getting scuba certified? After cooking in the summer heat for 30 minutes, my dive buddy and I had moved into the water closing in on some answers.

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Reaching 70 feet, the view was unremarkable with shadow, sand, limestone, and logs. Though, one creature had stood out, a tiny brown flounder hugging the shady spring floor. To the question of avoiding this dive after getting Padi certified, there was depth and the dangerous allure of cavernous openings.

The next reason for the trip was my friend demonstrating his ability to still function diving, despite a bum shoulder. This was an important benchmark before suggesting an open water dive in a cattle boat on the Atlantic. To that end, he had appeared like a playful otter flipping over in circles maintaining a consistent depth.

The last question was reconnecting with fresh water springs. For most of the 24 minute dive, the springs had lost some of its’ luster from the previous year. My perspective had changed with an emphasis away from swimming to diving. Though, this notion soon had changed during our safety stop. Perhaps, it was the white noise of water pushing out into the spring. This noise had provided a similar experience to lounging out in amniotic fluid. For a moment, I had felt a calm floating about with my legs and my arms crossed awaiting to rise to into the summer heat. Much like the surface skimming insects, there was a reason to be here. I had only needed to slow the mind for a minute for that epiphany of grace.

Troy Springs State Park is located at 674 Troy Springs Road, Branford, Florida 32008
Phone: (386) 935-4835

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Troy Springs State Park (Florida State Parks)

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!”

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

 

Afternoon hike in Wekiva Springs State Park @ Apopka, Florida

Wekiva Springs State Park was a bit of an ongoing natural exploration for myself. I had viewed different passing phases of weather elements ranging from hot, warm, humid, rain to cool, cold, dry, and windy. All these elements had enshrouded different perspectives in and out of the water for swimming, camping and canoeing. One thing I hadn’t done yet, hiking on the many trails emanating around the spring boil. Taking a half day of time off work yesterday, I had met up with a friend for taking a leisurely advance into these nearby woods.

Our walk had started on the boardwalk close to the trail-head. On this weekday, the first thing I had realized the lack of people occupying the grounds. This expectation was bit of an adjustment, on weekends in warmer weather, people flock to this watery arena. Another adjustment was the lack of insects in the air whether wasps, flies or mosquitoes. The offset was the cool breeze washing in and out of the pine and palmetto trees. My logic had concluded this being the reason for lack of ever present indigenous locals either human or not.

Courtesy of www.mappery.com
Courtesy of www.mappery.com

Finishing the short boardwalk, we had moved onto the main trail heading toward Sandlake. The shimmering light of the sun had revealed harvest like colors of auburn, browns, grays, yellows and green. With a recent trip out to mountains of Georgia, the slow arcing topography of the Wekiva basin was a welcome contrast. Both environments had their unique elements of appreciation yet, Florida’s emitting a more familiar comforting emotional refrain.

With an eventual split in the trail, we had steered to the left eventually moving across a road. Coming to the connecting side of the trail, we had seen a metallic hiking icon hanging on a wooden marker. It was a bit of flashy icon with another patch below for “no biking.” Proceeding down the way, we had come to some yellow caution tape on both sides of another road. On the ground had fallen a paper white posting listing the area for a controlled fire burn for January 15 – January 17th. With lack of sight or smell of fire, I hadn’t worried much about such postings; however, with the dashing winds, I had thought prudent in a turnabout. A few moments further down the trail, I had heard the chopping of wood in the distance. I had recalled a presentation from Wekiva burn manager about their preparation for controlled burns. I had theorized these noises from an advancing group of “preppers.” With that thought, such burn notices were better suited for the front gate or a website. With this turnabout, I had accumulated unfinished business for another Florida afternoon.

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Wekiva Springs (Florida State Parks)

North-South Cross Trail in Wekiva Springs State Park @ GarzaFX 20140116-174005.jpg 20140116-173916.jpg 20140116-174032.jpg 20140116-174022.jpg20140116-174215.jpg20140116-174209.jpgNorth-South Cross Trail in Wekiva Springs State Park @ Apopka, Florida 20140116-173932.jpg 20140116-174040.jpg North-South Cross Trail in Wekiva Springs State Park @ GarzaFX 20140116-173952.jpg20140116-174136.jpg20140116-174141.jpg20140116-174155.jpg20140116-174054.jpg 20140116-174014.jpg 20140116-174111.jpg 20140116-174119.jpgNorth-South Cross Trail in Wekiva Springs State Park @ Apopka, Florida 20140116-174103.jpg