They say it's not the destination, it's the journey. Chassahowitzka is the perfect example for this profound statement.
Back in 2017, my husband and I stumbled upon Chassahowitzka River Campground thanks to some locals telling us about it. It is located approximately 20 miles from Weeki Wachee.
The best way to start your exploration of the "Chaz"river is to get a map from the campground staff as it can get tricky in the fingers of several creeks that come off the river. We didn't have a map on our first trip and almost cut out journey short as we thought we were lost. Luckily we ran into local kayaker's who assured us "The Crack" is right around the corner. We kayaked our way through windy and partially very narrow sections where the thought of coming eye to eye with an alligator came to mind several times. However, Florida's pure beauty of wilderness overtook my senses shortly after, alligators were so far away from my mind as I was from theirs, besides that fact that these reptiles are not very interested in us humans but I shall discuss the often misunderstood reptiles in a later blog.
Paddle stroke by paddle stroke I was overcome by feeling vulnerable and humbled, I was in the heart of wild Florida. This is a feeling us humans don't get to experience much anymore as we sit safely in front of our TV's or scroll endlessly on our cell phones. We have developed a sense of being "top of the food chain" with the risk of becoming completely disconnected of what keeps us alive - our fresh air, the warming sun, the pure water and the healthy soil. We are so scared of nature but have no hesitation to step into our car. Biophobia overtook biophilia - that is very scary.
As my kayak glided through the water, sounds of frogs, crickets, birds and cicadas became more and more noticeable. No noise of cars or people near or far - I saw it as a welcome song to their world and a plea to also leave it this way. Every now and then the narrow river would widen into lagoon sections inhabited by mullets leaping out of the water. No one knows exactly why they do this. Some theories are to add oxygen, some others state it's to get rid of parasites - my favorite of it all is that maybe they are just happy fish?!
Approximately two miles of seemingly unbeaten path, we reached a point where we had to abandon our kayaks due to fallen trees as well as the creek becoming too shallow. After a few footsteps we arrived at the crack. Old Florida unfolded in front of our own eyes: hidden, secluded and full of peace and wonder. Nothing displayed any signs of human presence except for a rope dangling from an old oak tree inviting us to get the full experience of wild Florida, to plunge into "the crack"
I call Chassahowitzka Mother Natures playground, there are so many things to see and experience. I've seen playful otters on the riverbank, came across a curious newborn manatee, watched many birds call this place their home and even had a surprise encounter with a juvenile bull shark. It's all there for us to see. Seven sisters, an underwater cave system, is quite popular in the summer months, kayaking Potters and Salt creek are highly recommended due to it's amazing scenery of cabbage palms. But my main concern when I talk about these places is for humans to respect and protect it. Unfortunately as many other places in Florida, the health of the springs there are in dire need of help. When you decide to pay Chassahowitzka a visit, please educate yourself on how you can have a positive impact on the environment. Don't litter, respect wildlife and take nothing but memories with you.