DIVING FLORIDA SPRINGS
Call to Qualify
14942 Riverside Drive
O'Brien, FL. 32071
One of many trees that challenged our kayak laden with twin scuba tanks and full cave gear.
Creek narrows soon into our journey.
A broad clear sunlight pond rewards our efforts. In it's depths a large cave, likely a conduit that helps drain Florida's aquifer, required a special breathing mix to explore.
Excerpt from recent exploration:
I had spent more than a few hours trying to put boat ramps and springs on the same map so we could find a different place to cave dive. We had decided that the harder the cave was to get to the better our chances of finding something new. After a disappointing day, visibility-wise on the Withlacoochee River, My dive buddy shared some information about springs (location censored until exploration complete)
I was somewhat skeptical about hiking, kayaking and diving all in one trip but because of the remoteness of the site we wanted to be prepared if our re-con efforts yielded results. We loaded full cave gear, kayaks, and other essentials for our august trek.
The night before I had printed some navigational aids as we did not expect cell service to assist us. The only access was by water so we kayaked back from the boat ramp to the canopied wetland forest to a spot off the barely discernable creek I had identified from aerial photos as water, and hopefully, a spring.
My buddy wanted to bring the cave gear in the kayaks from the get go but I talked her out of it as it was not a far paddle to do a quick recon and we could return later as it was early in the day. This decision later proved to change the whole dynamic of the exploration. As we entered the canopy the creek narrowed and my buddy pointed out the water had become much clearer. Further up, ducking under branches and having to get out to go over logs we noticed the flow was quite evident coming from somewhere upstream. Using my water-logged paper I estimated we were two-thirds the way to this pond. There were now many side creeks and the thought occurred that it may be difficult to navigate back.
It was by no means an easy paddle. My buddy sacrificed her dryness for the sake of her gear and all important camera by falling up and out while maintaining her kayak upright. This was a new to me gravity defying maneuver which I termed a "upright wet exit." One thing we noticed about this time was the water was quite chilly. With the current now doing the navigating we could stay in the main channel. My estimation, after dodging more timber and branches was we should look toward the left for a run and an area were sunlight was present indicating our destination. The main flow from the left took us to such a place. It was amazing and quite surreal to see a broad clear sunlight pond present itself beneath us after what we had just gone through...