Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Birthday Extravaganza

If I could plan an ideal weekend, I wouldn’t have planned this – but only because I wouldn’t have been able to dream of anything this amazing and full of surprises. I have no idea how many hours I’ve spent at Ginnie since the time I first floated the river and snorkeled in the gin-clear water with my mom and immediately fell in love, captivated by the crystal clear water and limestone formations. Since then, it has led to open water diving, more snorkeling, field work for the Springs Institute, and most recently, cave diving. Each visit to Ginnie is unique, but I will certainly never forget this weekend of camping, night swimming, friends, watermelon, biking, treasure hunts, and campfires. In fear of getting too excited about every detail, I will let the photos and a few short captions tell the story…
I saw this campsite while taking flow measurements at Dogwood last winter and have wanted to camp there ever since - thankfully it was open when we arrived on Friday afternoon :)
We set up camp right away on Friday - the spring run was on one side and the river on the other - beautiful views from all directions!
After setting up camp, we walked over to Dogwood for a dip...
... and a swim in the sky.
Then we found a snake... he blended in pretty well with the algae-encrusted limestone and wove his way effortlessly through the cracks. After a while of swimming around in the shallows, he made his way over to the main boil and was actually playing around in the flow, swimming up and down and twirling his long, skinny body around like a ribbon spiraling in the wind.
Reflections at the water surface as seen when swimming back from the end of the run.
1/2 and 1/2 of Greg surfacing at Dogwood.
After a swim at Dogwood, we walked over to Ginnie to enjoy the calm afternoon.
And enjoyed a sunset on the  Santa Fe River  at the end of the Ginnie run - my favorite time of day at the springs. The setting sun reflecting on the tannic water, crystal spring water, and  fall leaves makes for a beautiful scene.
After our swim, we headed back to cook some dinner on the grill and start our first campfire of the weekend.
There was a live band playing at the main basin for a cave diving function, so after enjoying the sounds carrying along the river to our campfire, we walked towards the music for a night swim.
...followed of course by a surprise birthday watermelon. Fully equipped with candles and balloons :) 

The next morning was the greatest surprise of all. Apparently no birthday is complete without a treasure hunt!! (my favorite!) Greg had me searching all over the entire park for little rhyming, mysterious clues with shiny pink ribbons - one of them was even at the bottom of Dogwood in a little bottle! The most amazing birthday surprise ever - an what was at the end?! A MERMAID TAIL?!?? (Still in shock). Greg, you are beyond amazing! 

After the treasure hunt, Val and Austin joined us for a swim at the main spring. Here is a view from the cavern entrance with some people floating in the sky (above) and Val saying hi :) (below).

Val and Austin, both in streamline position with awesome flowing hair. Headed to warm up and play on the slackline.
After a fun swim and slackline with Val and Austin, we had another relaxing night at the campfire and kept ourselves fully entertained by people watching and seeing nighttime rivergoers pass by on canoes and kayaks. We couldn't resist the spring, so we took a night swim in Dogwood with the cave lights. There is something magical about jumping in when it's dark - perhaps it's the thrill of the crunching leaves and sticks under your bare feet as you cautiously walk to the steep, muddy bank of the spring run, hoping you don't step on anything on the the way. Maybe it's the warm feeling of the water as compared to the cool night air or the metallic reflection of hundreds of nocturnal fish with one sweep of the light. Suckerfish, catfish, and bullheads, often in the caves or cryptic during the day, abounded in the spring, as did big schools of minnows such as mosquitofish and redeye chubs. Despite the quiet of night, the spring was alive and thriving in the darkness. We even found the resident Dogwood snake - even more mystical and amazing at night :)
The next morning, Danielle came out to celebrate! This is Danielle mermaiding where the spring meets the river at Devil's Ear. Pure bliss. 
Another shot from the ear - swimming into the sunshine and tannic water.

 (Left) Greg diving into Devil's Eye and (Right) doing some reverse mountain climbing down the Devil's Ear wall.

A little turtle taking a breath above the Eye just before I got out and ran for the hot showers. A beautiful end to a watery weekend :)
You can find these photos (and more!) in my Birthday Extravaganza Facebook album.

No comments:

Post a Comment