Going Back to Baltzell
Going Back to Baltzell.
Fellow Spring Hunters and keyboard revelers, come along with Angel and I on a journey to one of my favorite Florida utopias, the Baltzell Springs Group. I’ve been here twice before, once with Angel and I alone, and once with Angel and my daughter, Jaycee. Both times previous, the river was high, the trees were bare, and the weather was less than favorable. Not to mention the river’s water being not so photogenic. This time, the complete experience was otherworldly. The river was perfect. The color of the slow and low moving current was more of a muffled blue haze as opposed to the muddy brown stream that we encountered on our last journey. The cypress trees were brimming with glowing green foliage and the wild flowers were bursts of scarlet, amethyst, and other brilliant splashes of color, all around. I hope that you enjoy this blog without the only discomfort that we endured, the buzzing and biting insects. Unless you’re reading this outdoors, of course, on a computer or other device. Let’s go!
A bald cypress oversees the spring run to the Chipola.
Lobelia Cardinalis lines the unusually low banks of the spring run.
Collectively, Baltzell is either a 1st or a 2nd magnitude springs group along the beautiful and wild Chipola River. I have seen conflicting reports regarding the actual recorded flow.
This springs group is a place rich with history. The first recorded crossing of the Chipola River was made in 1686 in the vicinity of Baltzell by Spanish explorer Marcos Delgado. Before Delgado, and his men, the Chacato tribe of native Americans inhabited the area. Delgado was on an expedition in "La Florida". He reported leaving "the Blue Springs" and passing around the head of a smaller spring before arriving at the Chipola River where the water was approximately six feet deep and the horses and men were able to swim across. We crossed this river I imagine at the same location as Delgado, or very close there to. We were on kayaks, not horse back. We were loaded down heavy with camera gear, snorkels, and masks, all tools that we would use to enhance our aquamarine experience.
Pistia Stratiotes or "spatterdock" sways gently with the flow of crystal clear spring water.
The "swimming hole" in the back.
|This is the furthest pool from the river.|
A bent cypress dips her roots at the edge of the back pool.
If you look closely, you may see the large bass and chain pickerel resting near the submerged log.
I chose to revisit and blog about Baltzell based on a primal, yet personal spiritual connection to the area. I imagine that this portion of the Chipola River and springs may look very similar to how it may have looked over 300 years ago when Delgado recorded his encounter with the "blue springs". To this day, there is no "easy" way to access these springs. One must put a small watercraft into the mysterious Chipola River about a mile downstream from the springs and paddle upriver. The only land access would be through the adjoining property which is owned by Southern Cattle Company. For just $55,000,000, the 8,991 acres can be yours!
Myself, doing my best to perfect the balancing act with my camera gear that I so often perform.
After paddling a mile upstream, you will reach the confluence where the crystal clear water flowing out of Baltzell's spring run mixes with the opaque waters of the Chipola. You will realize that all of the hard work was not to go unrewarded. As you paddle up the 1/6 mile crystal clear spring run, the first thing you will notice is the abundance of a submerged variation of pistia stratiotes, also known as spatterdock, or as the locals call it "cow lily". Attached to much of the submerged vegetation just below the surface are tiny snails with black conical shells. Once you reach the headspring of Baltzell, a sharp pleasure will overcome you. It did me. There are no words to describe the wonders of the azure blue waters and feelings of tranquility that one experiences when they see, smell, hear, and feel the surrounding ancient forests and her sacred waters. The abundance and natural beauty of flora is none surpassed anywhere else throughout our state than on the lower Chipola River, particularly that in and around Baltzell Springs. Jump in and enjoy!
So long, my friend, until we meet again! May you forever gleam in all of your azure glory!
I strongly encourage exploration of our naturally beautiful state. There is still much to be rediscovered. Be sure to make Baltzell , or “Bozel”, as the locals know it by, a stop along your journey! Until next time!
Rain gently falls all around as we paddle on to our next adventure!