Posts from the “Julington Creek” Category

Julington Creek 3

Posted on April 7, 2015

Low Water - Julington Creek

Low Water – Julington Creek

A month has passed since my last outing and I fear that the best of the spring foliage is past. Sometimes life gets in the way and we struggle to find the time to have our special times. Watching the weather and tides and trying to coordinate something in early morning is frustrating. When time becomes available one must go, even if the stars are not aligned perfectly. Part of the serendipity of life is seeing what chance has to offer.

I launched at the Palmetto Leaves Regional Park ramp on Old St. Augustine Road. I like this put in because it is close to the house and very quiet, especially at sunrise. I do have to put the wheels on the boat to get it to the dock, but it’s a dry launch and you can jump in your kayak and go. The tide was very low and there seemed to be more branches and logs than I could remember. I didn’t make it very far up Julington as there are some big downed trees that must be passed when the water is higher. Everything was green now and I lamented my delay at getting out here, but having all the green back gives you a sense that everything is back to normal.

Life on a Limb - Julington Creek

Life on a Limb – Julington Creek

I paddled back under the road and towards the more developed part of the creek. The docks and houses were still there, in addition to the sounds of mowers and leaf blowers. In Florida we are virtually slaves to our lawns, which serve no practical purpose other than be a constant source of maintenance. I don’t know about the history of lawns in Western culture but it is something that must go. It’s like having the living or dining room in your house that you never use. Lawns are constantly under attack by bugs and worms, moles, and fungi. Because a carpet of pure green is the standard, we must irrigate, mow, trim, mulch, fill, and fertilize this fragile ground cover. Fruit trees give fruit, other trees offer shade, shrubs offer flowers and privacy, but lawns offer nothing. You probably don’t even have bragging rights because there is always some blemish or dead spot spoiling the perfect look. We water these vast expanses of useless green with drinking water! This love affair with lawns is especially ludicrous with a creekfront lot. I really don’t enjoy seeing someone’s pristine lawn from my boat. That’s why I’d rather explore the uninhabited portions of our creeks. I get too agitated seeing how we manage to do stupid things.

Two Turtles - Julington Creek

Two Turtles – Julington Creek

On my way out I saw two red ear slider turtles on a log having a great day.

Winter…no, early Spring on Big Davis and Julington Creek

Posted on January 13, 2015

Early Spring at the Cathedral of Nature - Julington Creek

Early Spring at the Cathedral of Nature – Julington Creek

Today I went fog chasing into the creek and to my surprise the creek was absolutely clear. There was heavy fog everywhere except the creek, go figure. Must be the temperature of the water or something. I was so disappointed. I made the best of the outing and found different conditions from my last time here in November. The landscape has turned ito a palette of grays, browns, and greens. Gone are the yellows and oranges. Bright green for the new growth, dark green for the existing evergreen plants. The tide was low and as I crossed several dead tree limbs going upstream I thought about the water levels on my way back. Several areas are pretty clogged so make sure you are not at dead low tide when you head upstream. I came to several familiar areas (like Cathedral of Nature) and remembered how completely green everything was. I find the transparency of the landscape revealing of both the trees and the areas beyond. It’s interesting to look “deep” into the forest. I can now see why there are so many mosquitoes in the summer!

Autumn Holdout - Julington Creek

Autumn Holdout – Julington Creek

New growth is appearing everywhere on the trees. I did find one lone maple with red autumn leaves. The warmth of the creek must really confuse the plants. I know it confused the fog. Winter appears to be officially over as far as the creeks are concerned. We are having some cool weather but nothing below freezing yet. I’ll still be chasing that elusive foggy morning in the meantime.

Green Dusting - Big Davis Creek

Green Dusting – Big Davis Creek

Autumn on Big Davis and Julington Creek

Posted on November 17, 2014

Sunrise Mist on Big Davis Creek

Sunrise Mist on Big Davis Creek

It’s been a few weeks since the kayak has seen any water. I arrived at the St. Augustine Road launch a little before sunrise and saw that the Spatterdock has largely died off allowing a clear path up Big Davis Creek. I was excited. There was some lingering fog on the water and plenty of very large spider webs. I paddled for about a half mile and was turned around by two big trees blocking access. As I turned around I noticed that my light had changed. I much prefer side/backlight. The frontal light was bright and not creating the landscapes I was looking for. There were still lots of leaves on the trees although the overall color had definitely changed. I found a small tributary stream and made my way as far as I could. I was surrounded by autumn color.


Surrounded by Autumn

As Big Davis ended I made a right onto Julington Creek. Some familiar scenes were in the process of transformation and it was nice to see some colors other than shades of green on the trees. By now all of the fog had burned off and the sun was trying hard to make its way into the creek.

Fall Colors

Fall Colors on Julington Creek


Fallen Branch – Julington Creek

The turnaround on Julington Creek comes quickly and soon I was on my way home. Autumn has definitely left its mark on the landscape and I look forward to the changes ahead.

Blue Sky Reflections

Blue Sky Reflections on Big Davis Creek


Julington Creek 2

Posted on June 8, 2014

Cathedral of Nature

Cathedral of Nature – Julington Creek

I promised Gray that after my bad attitude yesterday I would take him to the other side of the creek, back upstream. A beautiful morning (except for the yellow flies!) awaited us. Such a contrast to the horrors of yesterday. Did ALL of Julington Creek look like this at one point in time? We paddled for about a mile before a big fallen tree blocked out path. We could have dragged our boats over the log but decided we had enough beauty for one day.

Into the Woods - Julington Creek

Into the Woods – Julington Creek

Suspended in Time - Julington Creek

Suspended in Time – Julington Creek

Julington Creek

Posted on June 7, 2014

Waiting for Development - Julington Creek

Waiting for Development – Julington Creek

I returned to the Old St. Augustine Rd. access point with Gray and we decided to paddle downstream on Julington Creek towards Clark’s Fish Camp. My hopes were not high on having a “pristine” creek experience which turned out to be the case. As soon as we passed the bridge, the docks and trailer homes, and estate mansions with manicured lawns opened up. You could hear lawn mowers and blowers, music playing, and everything else that goes along with civilization. From the Google Map it appeared that these points would be infrequent, but as it turns out most of the creek is developed. I guess as a people we have the need to mark our territory. My problem is what people do to their property (or don’t do). The first inclination is to “drain the swamp,” bring in enough fill to build a nice bulkhead to eliminate any of the marsh or vegetation that could breed mosquitoes or snakes. Then we need an unobstructed view of the creek, so clear the lot of trees and shrubs and plant grass. Not just a small area for a view but the whole property. This destroys any view anyone would have of the creek landscape. When this formula is repeated again and again it becomes total destruction of any “waterfront” feeling one could get from living on a Florida creek.

I may return to document my feelings on this observation, but for now I had enough of the creek so we headed back. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice paddle and the creek is still beautiful, but you have to look through the humanity which was too painful today.

Big Davis and Julington Creek

Posted on June 1, 2014


Raindrops – Big Davis Creek

My first outing with the big camera. A little nervous but the worst that could happen would be the boat flips and all my camera gear goes to the bottom of the creek. Ok, that’s what insurance is for. The morning was overcast, rain was in the forecast. Gray was out of town so I soloed this one with a launch at the South Entrance to Palmetto Leaves Regional Park, across from Kohls on Old St. Augustine Road. Never been here before. This is a VERY nice park, a real secret tucked away in a busy area. Restrooms, picnic tables, plenty of parking. The launch is a floating dock that kinda puts you right in the creek. For kayakers, the point of maximum instability is getting in and out of your boat. There is some serious rocking around if you are not careful, and any attempt to compensate usually results in a dump. I did not wish for this result. I took me about a minute to make the transition from the dock to the boat. As I sat on the dock with one leg in the boat, I kept thinking about moving my butt over to the seat in one smooth motion. Easy. I would go through the motion and halfway through I’d stop. The boat would start tipping side to side. Yikes! I recomposed myself and tried again. I wish I had a video of this.

Morning Paddle - Big Davis Creek

Morning Paddle – Big Davis Creek

Once in the boat I was off and running. My general rule is to secure the camera in the center compartment until needed. No need to snap it all shut but just have it covered to protect from paddle drips. I didn’t realize how little light is in the creeks. I had an idea from using my G10 that high ISO would be necessary. I also had no idea on where I could go with the ISO to retain the print fidelity I wanted. Remember, I’m usually shooting from a tripod at ISO 100, f/18. That wasn’t going to happen here unless I wanted a blurry mess. The happy medium seemed to be ISO 2500, f/9, 1/40-1/60 sec. While I was hoping for more depth of field and lower ISO, this is generally the ballpark I start with. I’m sure I’ll refine these setting as I start printing and develop more experience shooting.

Creek Canopy - Julington Creek

Creek Canopy – Julington Creek

The launch is on Big Davis Creek, which joins with Julington Creek. At the junction, I turned right to go upstream on Julington. What I love about this area is that there is NO development, no docks or lawns, or evidence of anything man-made. This is so rare especially in an area as beautiful as this. I am really surprised and relieved that these creeks are preserved. I had no idea of the beauty. I paddled until it began to rain. Just a sprinkle, but being the paranoid novice paddler, I was nervous that the deluge was moments away. In hindsight I should have stayed out there. The raindrops on the leaves and hitting the water were a delight.

Julington Creek, sorta

Posted on May 15, 2014

First trip - Julington Creek from Mandarin Park

First trip – Julington Creek from Mandarin Park

Our inaugural paddle! Just installed the Yakima Sweet Roll cradles on my Pathfinder roof rack and managed to get my boat up there. The Cuda 12 weighs in at 70 lbs w/o the seat and that’s a lot of plastic to be pushing on the roof of a car. As much of a challenge is getting it down…and it does slide down fast when you get it going. We managed to put in at the Mandarin Park boat ramp and didn’t realize that on a windy day the river really kicks up some waves and makes it tough to paddle. We made it to the Julington Creek Bridge (about 300 yards!) and then turned around and went west for a bit. The waves were really tossing us around and we ended up working HARD trying to get these big wide fishing yaks back to the ramp. What a workout, not going to do that again. So much for the first ride…it was short.