We didn't do the entire paddle trail, (I don't suppose that's any real surprise) instead we just did a short shady section. Unfortunately, the section we did was just beyond where the trail ends, so we used a screen shot from Google Maps to guide us.
|Map: Goldendale is the green dot, Centennial is just west of 41, and we turned around at 484, by the canoe logo.|
Even though we were doing a short section, we chose to rent longer kayaks for the trip. We rented from Aardvark Kayaks in Crystal River, the same Aardvark Kayaks, owned by Matt who guided us through Ozello in a prior visit. It was a last minute decision, so most of his fleet was out, but he had some nice Eddylines for us to use: a Fathom, and a Raven. Yes, they were more boat than the water required, but they were a fun paddle.
|The launch at Goldendale|
It was a quiet, peaceful ramp, the road lined by live oak draped in Spanish moss, which even at 10AM cast shadows over the launch area.
And it was a quiet shady paddle. We spent some time in the wider center canal but, to avoid bass boats and find more shade, we often chose to paddle the tiny side canals. Turtles and herons were sprinkled along the shoreline, but there was also this:
It's a paper wasp; Polistes annularis. Like other paper wasps, it likes to build nests over water, to minimize sunlight on the nest. Though this wasp is found as far north as New York, and west to Texas, unlike the paper wasps I'm familiar with, it doesn't build the insulating overcoats. But it does cluster many nests in the same area. And what I saw along the Withlacoochee was small nest after small nest, one per tree, each a few feet off the water, just waiting for a shade seeking paddler to hit. So you've been warned...
We took a break at Centennial Park in Dunnellon, plainly the launch site of choice. While we rested, kayaks and motor boats came in, and their replacements launched, while one motor boat rumbled over and over in the vain hope that this time the engine would catch.
|Look there are air boats too! I'm headed downstream and Centennial's ramp is just on the other side of the bridge.|
As I had while paddleboarding two days earlier, I could again see turtles and fish swimming beneath me.
This cormorant was standing guard on the cedar as we went upstream (within 6 feet of it), and was still there when we headed back. We nicknamed it the "toll collector".
Sand Hill Cranes occupied an island in Rainbow River.
|Two out of three cranes|
A cool discovery on the return trip was this neat little alligator sunning itself on a mat of grass.
|How many siblings can you spot?|
Withlacoochee River Florida - Wikipedia
Withlacoochee River (south) Paddling Trail Charts
Polistes annularis wikipedia
Summary: Launch at Goldendale Launch, parking for for about 10 cars, no facilities. Stop at the launch at Centennial Park, Dunellon. Toilets, water, picnic table and more parking available. 9.6 miles by our GPS, unsure which canals we used.
Meanwhile in Maine: Our power was restored late Wednesday by a hard working crew. I thought we might get a paddle in, but it was just in time for a couple of cold rainy days. We've trimmed and moved fallen branches from the yard, the road and the path to the water, and when we're done with that we're usually achy enough for the day.