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March 9, 2010

Road Trip - Day 5, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

In 1972 the Head Spring of the Ichetucknee River was declared a
National Natural Landmark (NNL) by the U.S. Dept. of Interior.  From there the Itchetucknee River meanders some six miles before connecting with the Santa Fe River and supports a spectacularly diverse ecosystem both on land and in the water. There are hardwood forests and many species of rare birds, mammals and reptiles. Its shores are lined with old growth cypress and its waters are the cleanest in all of Florida but you don't need a chemistry set to know that – all you need do is look. The Ichetucknee Springs State Park is home to two beautiful natural springs, the Head Spring and the Blue Hole Spring. The deep aquifer source of both is more noticeable at the Blue Spring marked by an indigo blue spot at the cave's opening (pictured on the sign) but its depth is indiscernible.  To see the source must be a thing of wonder and can be experienced if you are a certified cave diver.  I actually dove in a cave in the Crystal River as part of my diving certification.  It's an experience I'll never forget and nothing I expected.  It was very cool! I'd love to dive the Blue Hole Spring.  I don't know if my certification would hold up (it was many, many years ago) but I think I might just have to take the plunge one day.
Today, however, is all about hiking trails, admiring the beauty of the springs and a little trip down memory lane for this is also the place where several years ago, in the dead of winter, my husband talked me into skinny dipping. More than you care to know, probably, but I was much younger then and looked a whole lot better in the buff. It went something like this, "There's nobody here except for us and one park ranger and she returned to her station. No one will see us." He was right, mostly, it was too cold for much of anything on this peaceful river (luckily the springs keep the water at 72 degrees). So I thought (after more convincing), what the heck! Well, to the guy with the cap and goggles doing laps up the river (unbelievable!) in the dead of winter (you know who you are) my sincerest apologies for the flash of flesh scrambling to grab clothes and hall butt. It was a good laugh! Still not sure if I got my entire wardrobe back (sorry, more TMI)? I just hope the guy didn't try to blight it from his memory. I'd like to think he's still telling the story!

The Ichetucknee will always be a special place for me and clearly not just for its beauty.  If in your travels through Florida you happen to be near the Itchetucknee make sure you don't miss this National treasure. If you don't have time for tubing, kayaking, canoeing or diving may I suggest a stroll or a quick "dip".  You can see for yourself this place is irresistibly inviting.

For information on cave diver certification in Florida check out http: www.cavediveflorida.com (Oct. - March scuba diving is available in the Blue Hole).
(It's safe to scroll down - crime scene photos where intentionally left out.)

2 comments:

Lindy said...

I love this river! It's been one of the mainstays of my life... I remember tubing down the river with my mom when I was five or six... Had just gotten to a point where I could swim well enough to feel free in the water. Then several trips with church groups, etc. as a teen, then several trips with friends during college, followed by my first kayaking experience with Bob on the river during the 4th of July. Big Mistake!!! I almost decapitated a little girl with the nose of the kayak because the river was so crowded and I was a newbie to kayaking and didn't have full control. Later, Bob and I took Cary tubing with friends and family, but the last time was a couple of years ago... I feel the need to go again.

Lindy said...

P.S., I'll bet that lap swimmer still has sweet dreams of your lily-white bottom under water. :)