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Yesterday, they paddled the Ichetucknee River, a clear, narrow stream fed almost exclusively by nine major springs. Today, at this popular swimming hole in the town of High Springs, they want full immersion. After taking a deep breath, Beth Ann Rutledge of Tallahassee swims down into the pool, an earthen cavity called Ginnie Spring that discharges approximately 30 million gallons of water per day, feeding the cola-colored Santa Fe River. As she drops beneath a limestone shelf at the edge of the spring, the opening widens. She touches a toe to the white sandy bottom, and, in a cloud of bubbles, kicks back to the surface.
Twenty yards away, a volleyball game is under way. Wet suits and scuba gear are strewn across a picnic table. A short distance farther, wooded campsites are thick with tents.
A at a restaurant and dive shop depicts a mermaid with long blond hair blown back, not unlike the fluorescent-green aquatic eel grass that crops up beside these northern Florida springs, ever-bent by the continuous outward flow of water. Visit the natural freshwater springs of northern Florida, and you may find it impossible to resist plunging in, or at least riding along the surface in a kayak or tube.
Typically surrounded by trees and lush vegetation, the springs are often an eerily beautiful blue or green. Some are so clear that kayakers photographed on them appear as if they were floating on air. The purity of the water at Ginnie Spring has attracted the Coca-Cola Company, which has a permit to extract up togallons a day from a deeply placed well there and bottles some of it as Dasani water.
At least eight billion gallons of water a day gush up out of the Floridan aquifer, according to the United States Geological Survey, mostly in northern and central Florida, which has one of the largest concentrations of springs in the world. Besides generating rivers, the springs create, in effect, windows and doorways into the aquifer itself. Floridians use these waters for swimming, diving, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. At Rum Island Springs, a cabin can be rented for the weekend beside a turquoise pool of water twice the size of a large Jacuzzi.
Poe Springs, in a acre Alachua County park, has concrete steps leading into clear blue water. More springs are preserved in more than a dozen High Springs naked women parks, including Troy, Manatee, Ponce de Leon and Wakulla Springs. Ginnie Spring, where Ms. Rutledge was proudly taking her dip, is the anchor of Ginnie Springs Outdoors, described on its Web site as a campground and dive resort. On a paddle upstream from there on the Santa Fe, along the Santa Fe Canoe Trail, a dozen more springs show themselves before flowing into the sluggish river, which is as wide as a three-lane highway.
Its wooded banks are sparsely dotted with docks, lawn chairs and the occasional house. Along this passage, on the river rather than in the springs themselves, alligator sightings are considered one of the attractions, and swimming is not advised. The town has two dive shops, canoe and kayak outfitters and tube rental establishments. The Great Outdoors, a new restaurant, bottles a beer called Naked Ed Ale, named for Ed Watts, who for 20 years has greeted visitors to the lovely but remote Lilly Spring clad in only a necklace, wire-rimmed glasses and a loin cloth.
According to The High Springs Herald, ownership of the land where he had his hut is under dispute.
The hut recently burned. High Springs is also the headquarters of a film production company specializing in high-definition underwater cinematography.
Skiles said one day in February while negotiating the Santa Fe in his motorboat. High Springs lies in a rural pocket of Florida between Jacksonville and Tallahassee where muddy cattle farms are studded with moss-cloaked cypress trees. Residents of this area talk easily of hydrological features like springsheds, swallets entry points into the aquifer for rainwater and vents. Many local stories involve sinkholes, which are geologically related to the springs. Janice Richardson, who works the ticket booth at the Priest Theater in High Springs, recalled one time when a tractor was swallowed up, and another, about three years ago, when an entire house went into a sinkhole.
Her husband, Bobby, who collects the tickets at the door, has fonder memories of living over the aquifer, going back to his childhood. MORE recently, emphasis has shifted toward conservation. Planning to tube the Ichetucknee? Get there early. The of users permitted on the river is limited, and rules spell out what can and cannot be taken along. Recently, the state has begun buying up land around some High Springs naked women areas farther south that have been used as tourist attractions, including Silver Springs, where glass-bottomed boats ply a spring-fed river, and Weeki Wachee, long known as the home of a water show featuring women decked out as mermaids swimming in a glass-walled tank.
The Florida Springs Task Force, with a mission of protection and restoration, was assembled by former Gov. Jeb Bush in after he paddled the Ichetucknee. Back near the Santa Fe River late in the day, Mr. Skiles and his diving partner, Tom Morris, tramped through muddy woods in full scuba gear, searching for a fissure. They had tied up their boat along a nondescript section of the river.
Daylight was fading. Morris said while passing an overturned cypress. They cast about in the soft earth wearing neoprene booties, searching with giddy anticipation, each carrying a small oxygen tank. There was no trail.
Morris, holding a reel of string tied at one end to a cypress knee, dropped down into the water and disappeared. Mosquitoes swarmed in the woods above. Soon bubbles emerged from the dark water, and Mr. And he had. He and his tribe of divers have discovered more than springs and cave systems in the area, some murky like this. There are no plans to name a beer after him.
A series of springs may be visited by boat or car at Blue Springs Park Inc. Most springs and waterways in Florida are publicly owned. Alligators can be found in numerous freshwater bodies throughout Florida. The state tries to keep them away from deated swimming areas in state parks.High Springs naked women
email: [email protected] - phone:(274) 615-2756 x 2380
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