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Headwaters of the Kissimmee: Tiger Creek

October 30, 2012

I was speaking to Lou Parrot once about had I ever paddled from Lake Walk in Water over to Lake Kissimmee via Tiger Lake. I was very excited what with the idea of gators and other extraordinary wildlife on this more remote part of Polk County. I really enjoy scouting new places, areas where the human footprint is negligible.

So I had this thought about having an outing called Headwaters of the Kissimmee, where our group would trace the route from where the water starts over the Kissimmee River State Park.

However most of us think of the water beginning at Shingle Creek just south of Orlando, but the water does also flow from Tiger Creek Preserve. The water flows from west of Lake Walk in the Water, through Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, then falls into the lake, the largest in Polk County.

I plan on Monday as a day off and often use the opportunity to go explore, or scout for our outings. yesterday there were so many things I could be doing….scrapping our front parch, writing letters for my clients, or studying dull phosphate industry documents. With the cool, fall breeze, it was in my best interest to go explore. It was one of those days when the atmosphere and the trees just sparkle. What a great decision! I was blown away by the stark beauty that so few have witnessed!

I t took about an hour to get to where Walk in the Water Road crosses Tiger Creek. Of course there is no official put in, although there si a ramp on the Lake. I like it this way, where there is not much sign of human impact.

surprisingly there was UGS gauge at the bridge that read 44, 3 and I was surprised and delighted about the fact that there was a gage and the high water, that  is high enough to paddle. So I headed upstream, and soon I hit may first portage. I can get a little discouraged about portages, if they happen frequently and quickly. It also takes my mind some time to adjust to the notion the I could end up steeping on an aquatic creature that may not like to be stomped on by an intruder.

So I moved along struck by the beauty of the small narrow blackwater creek, where I could intermittently see the white sandy bottom. The cool westerly breeze and the glimmering sun made the morning a time for the ages.

Despite the beauty of Tiger Creek I was stunned by all the damage by wild Hogs along each side of the creek. The damage looks like someone had taken a rotor tiller to the bank. The Spanish introduced the Hogs to Florida, I have even read that De Soto himself was the culprit. I have read that the Native Americans managed to kick the Spanish out on two fronts in early America….in the Suwannee River watershed and in the Southern Rockies. Wish we could kick the pigs out as easily.

As I moved along, I got used to the partaging, and the idea of stepping on a gator’s head in the muck. The good thing about the cool weather was that the reptiles rather disappear, making the idea of  tramping around more settling.

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