From high in a tree, our very own Crystal Sink
Nothing is more refreshing than to jump into the cold clear water of a Florida spring in the balmy heat of a summer day. September is upon us but little reprieve from the heat, and Hurricane Hermine just passed right over us leaving a soggy mess in her wake... a hot, sticky, mosquito-laden mess. So I'm all for revisiting some of Florida's greatest swimming holes and shivering at the thought of diving in. Ahhhh.....
I have to start with Crystal Sink (above). It is a karst window sinkhole, not a spring, but its fed from the same caves as Wakulla Springs and I am so grateful to be able to cool off in it every day when the need arises... like when a hurricane has killed the electricity (and A/C), or when the sweat from doing yardwork is dripping into my eyes, and especially when its time for relaxing. Instantly rejuvenated, I think of Ponce de Leon's search for the Fountain, and know that this is it.
Here is a selection of a few of my springs favorites, starting at nearby Wakulla. You may have seen some of these before - or been there in person. Maybe you have a favorite too.
Many swimmers enjoy Wakulla Springs...
And some even find it to be a great place for breakfast.
In the depths of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge one can glimpse the Flying Fish of Shepard Spring.
To the west in the panhandle, on the Chipola River many springs beckon. Mystic Spring (3 photos) ...
Mystic at dawn. A collaboration with John Moran.
Not far downstream, Maund Spring. The spring is visible (upper left) flowing down the arc of its run to the Chipola (mid-right). A wide angle lens captured the entire "smile".
Almost a caricature of a Florida oasis, one of the Baltzell Group on the upper Chipola.
And another gem from the Baltzell Group.
Jackson Blue Spring, the biggest of the Chipola River system, is spectacular, and a popular swimming hole. In early morning by boat, I had the place to myself... well, me and this bass.
Looking out from Jackson Blue's cavern... there's a diving board just overhead...
Cypress Spring's old maple tree in fall. It's a short paddle on Holmes Creek (FL Panhandle) - - so worth it.
Cypress Spring Run
Surreal Suspension. Crystal in the clear waters of Cypress Spring Run.
And where Cypress's waters meet those of a small tannic creek. Some invisible barrier slows the blending of the waters.
Gainer Springs on Econfina Creek (also in the Panhandle) -- a series of crystalline spring vents and surprising wildlife...
The giant tadpoles of the River Swamp Frog. (I've only seen them there once in these large numbers.)
One of the many Suwannee River springs... by day...
And by night. This one, Oasis in the Dark , was a collaborative project with John Moran. Swimming it at night (to operate the underwater lights) was a chilling experience.
Speaking of the dude... there he is, John Moran in his element.
And John's not the only one in its element in Suwannee's springs. Convict Spring.
The entire run of Ichetucknee River is like a giant spring, full of clearwater-revelers afloat in tubes all summer. I had to wait awhile to get this break in the tube traffic.
Near Williston, Devil's Den is deep inside an above-water cave The cave roof has a natural skylight, dripping with curtains of vines and soft light. The underwater caves accessed from here are popular with divers.
In the wild springs of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, I found myself sharing my swim with an undesirable denizen ... not the best of swimming buddies.
Not far away, the young punk gar hangout was a cool spot. Fearless of the old gators.
Volusia Blue Spring, a flower of limerock layers and light. The hard-to-see-diver about halfway up gives you some perspective. It's deep.
Pals enjoying Gilchrist Blue Spring. (Every county should have its own "Blue Spring" and many seem to.) Gilchrist Blue is another wildly popular swimming hole for the locals.
In Ocala National Forest, springs abound, from this small un-named one on Juniper Creek...
To the most famous, Silver Spring. The spring run is the beautiful Silver River.
Another of my favorites in the Ocala Forest is Fern Hammock Spring, with its beautiful arched foot bridge and stretching live oaks.
And here the day (and blog) ends... way back upon the Suwannee River.
May your eyes (and to the depths of your souls) have been cooled and refreshed.
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