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Seeing the bountiful wildlife and beauty in Myakka River State Park, one might ask what wonders lie downstream? That's what I thought anyway. Flowing south from the park, the river is relatively inaccessible, lined by large tracts of private land and few roads or bridges. The hiking trail to Lower Myakka Lake and Deep Hole in the Wilderness Preserve is a popular hike for fishermen due to the teeming tilapia, there for the catching, (and for some of us looking to photograph alligators who also love the tilapia.) But we heard it was possible to paddle all the way from the park to a funky restaurant in Venice called Snook Haven. After that, the river was said to become much more populous with less natural beauty. OK. Let's paddle!
The winds were favorable as we reached Lower Myakka Lake and I was able to sail across in my kayak at a good clip. (Sure beat having a headwind on this big open stretch of water.)
The Preserve beyond Deep Hole is shallow and full of birds, including huge flocks (like thousands!) of swallows and shorebirds, and smaller flocks of Roseate Spoonbills. A small concrete dam marks the southern boundary of the Preserve, but the river remains undeveloped for miles beyond the dam. Wildlife – birds, gators, deer, hogs, and turtles – abound.
The strangest thing we saw was this open-air beehive. No dark cavity for this queen and her brood! Bee Art for the world to see.
Swooping palms, oaks, and classic Highwayman-like scenes line this wild river. Well, see for yourself.
Keith was a great host in Venice. One evening, we joined a group of his friends for Yoga-on-the-Beach at Siesta Key (though yoga ended up getting rained out). Ghost-like flocks of sanderlings flowed up and down with the waves in the dusk-light... like "vapors on black-stick legs".
We also made the extra effort to visit Deep Hole late enough one day to light the gator eyes with flash. So many eyes! Briefly, a light misty rain delivered droplets near the camera that burst with light from the flash as well, adding to the magic of the scene.
Ahhh, Myakka aka "Big Waters", you so deserve your designation as 'Florida's first wild and scenic river'... thank you for sharing your secrets.