From: Emily Woodberry[SMTP:Emily_Woodberry@mlb.sticomet.com]
Subject: Ginnie Springs Trip Report
One word sums up this weekend trip - WOW!!!!! We had a wonderful time.
The trip started out by meeting at my house in Melbourne at 6:15 AM (yawn.....) on Saturday.
We loaded up, gassed up, and headed out of town shortly after 7:30 AM. We had 4 campers (non-divers), 3 open water students, and 12 divers. We arrived at Ginnie Springs at around 11:00 AM and checked in. After picking out our camp sites along the Sante Fe River, we headed for our first dive in Ginnie Springs.
Ginnie Springs is a very large cavern. The spring basin is about 15 feet deep. Once into the basin, you can see the cavern entrance. There are 2 levels in the cavern. The first is about 20 foot from top to bottom. This then opens up into what is called the ballroom. The ballroom is 120 feet long and at the bottom of the cavern we hit 55 foot on our depth gauges. There were huge rocks which helped form smaller caverns off of the ballroom. At the bottom of the cavern is a closed off cave entrance. The flow from the aquafer was intense. I held onto the grate at the cave entrance and the force from the water blew me into a horizontal position. When I let go of the grate, I was blown backwards by the force of the water. Even though this is a cavern, there isn't much ambient light and it was necessary to carry a flashlight to really enjoy the dive. There were a few catfish in the cavern, but most of the fish were found in the basin. There is very low oxygen content in it the aquafer water, so it is very difficult to sustain any life within the spring. We exitted the cavern and dove the spring run, which dumps into the Santa Fe River. The water moves very swiftly down the run and we little a bit of difficulty getting back up to the spring basin - but we all got back OK.
After our first dive, we setup camp and had lunch. (PBJ and chicken salad sandwiches) After lunch, we did dive number 2. The first location was Little Devil's Spring. This is a 40 foot deep crevasse that has a cave opening at one end. The crevasse is about 50 feet long and is only wide enough for one diver. Not much to see, but pretty neat to experience. We came up from Little Devil's Spring and followed the spring run down to Devil's Eye. This is a cave entrance. Since none of us are cave certified, we did not penetrate the opening. We did drop about 20 foot into the opening and read the "Grim Reaper Sign" which warns divers who are not cave trained not to enter. Again, the water was flowing very hard from the aquafer. It was cool watching the lights of the cavers down in the hole. This cave runs from the Eye entrance to Devil's Ear which is a short distance from the Eye.
We swam over to the Devil's Ear which was a much larger, deeper crevasse. This crevasse had a few fallen logs in it at about 30 feet. One at a time, we penetrated the crevasse to about 50 feet and watched as cavers who had entered the Eye exit the cave system at the Ear. I was amazed at the rate of flow. It was difficult to keep from getting blown backwards up out of the hole.
Next, we surfaced and entered the Santa Fe River via an extremely deep grass bed. Dave parted the grass and we followed his trail. I can see how someone could easily get entangled in this deep grass. Once we got out of the grass, some folks dove, others snorkled, and the rest simply floated on their backs and sang songs at the tops of their lungs as they drifted down the river towards the Ginnie Springs run. The water of the Santa Fe is extremely tanic from all of the cedar trees which makes the river a reddish brown color. It was awesome to see the color change from the blue clear spring water to the dark tanic river water. The river had many fallen logs, fish, and turtles. We drifted down to the Ginnie Springs run and swam up the run to the cavern basin. A few of us entered the cavern since we still had plenty of air left.
We then went back to camp and got dinner started. (cheeseburgers, potatoe salad, chips) After dinner - night dive in the cavern! Only a few folks opted to do the night dive. (Most of us were extremely beat!). We had a happy little fire going at camp and most of the crew hit the hay by 10:00 PM.
Up around 8:00 AM for a great bacon, eggs, and pancakes breakfast. Then tear down. Once we got camp torn down, we rented canoes and headed up the river. One of the canoes got chased by an extremely friendly manatee. What an experience!
We got drizzled on, but no one melted. We did lunch at one of the park's pavilion. (PBJ and BLT's) We headed home by 3:00 PM. About halfway home, the sky opened up and down came the rain! We got home around 6:30 PM. By the time we got things situated, we got to watch the second half of the Super Bowl.
It was a wondeful trip. I wish you all could have been there!
Next month, we are planning a day trip to Crystal River to dive with the Manatees. We are going on Monday, Feb 15th (President's Day) We will be renting john boats. Please let me know ASAP if you are interested in joining us on this trip.