Inks Lake Trip Report – Texas

About 2 months ago one of my closest friends, Ben, and I decided to encourage each other to lose weight and get in shape. Ben had already been at it for 4 or 5 months and I was just starting. A few weeks later we decided to sit down weekly to discuss our experiences and release the discussion in the form of an oddly named podcast called “Bacon Tastes Good“. During our discussions Ben mentioned that he would be spending the summer in our native state of Michigan at his in-laws cottage on Intermediate Lake and he was interested in getting a kayak. I suggest he come down to ACK’s San Marcos Demo Days as the Austin Demo Days had already passed, but he was unable to make it down. I then suggested we could rent a couple of kayaks from ACK and take a day off to go paddling and with that the plan was set in motion.

Our mutual friend, Daniel, ( Who also works at ACK. ) has been telling me for years how awesome Inks Lake is so I decided that we’d head there to check it out for ourselves. Ben decided that he wanted to try the Wilderness Systems Ride 115 and I really wanted to try a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. Since it was Ben’s first time kayak I took it upon myself to over plan/prepare for the trip. Inks Lake is about an hour from Cedar Park, Texas where Ben and I both live so there would be no running home for anything we forgot. When all was said and done we ended up having everything we needed for a comfortable day of paddling.

After days of torrential rain in Central Texas the sun rose on a cool clear day. Around 7:30am we loaded the kayaks and packed the car with the final bits of our gear. We got on the road shortly after 8am and arrived at Inks Lake State Park a little over an hour later. After paying our entrance fee’s ($6 a person) we made our way to the boat launch and unloaded the kayaks. Ben scouted out the General Store and the bathroom situation while I unloaded the rest of the gear.

Around 9:45am we started on our first trip of the day to Devils Watering Hole. Not really knowing anything about Inks Lake we were pleasantly surprised to find a small waterfall once we reached the end of Devils Watering Hole. There’s no wonder why that part of Inks Lake is a popular swimming spot. The route to Devils Water Hole is littered with submerged boulders and rock formations. They are tough to see when they are right in front of your kayak. I ran up on one and almost tipped my boat but I was able to keep my balance and stay dry. The nice thing about the paddle from the boat launch to Devils Water Hole is it’s all inside a no wake area so there’s no boat wakes to contend with although I’m sure on the weekends there are a lot more swimmers back in that area.

After an hour of paddling we returned to the boat launch area and pulled the kayaks up on the beach area next to the launch. We ate lunch at a picnic table behind the General Store and recorded a quick 30 min episode of “Bacon Tastes Good”. Before heading out toward Inks Dam we refilled our water bottles and applied more sunscreen to defend against the Texas sun. The trip to Inks Dam would take us outside the no wake area but it wasn’t a real issue as we had the lake pretty much to ourselves except for one ski boat and a couple of fishing boats.

The trip along Inks Lake’s Southern shores to Inks Dam has several inlets that would be tough for motor boats to navigate as they are either littered with submerged trees and rock formations. The coolest being an inlet where there’s part of a forest that is mostly submerged under Inks Lake. At the end of the inlet there’s a small “beach” area where we saw a few fisherman, but except that it would seem that the submerged trees limit access to this area of the water only to human powered boats. Even in our kayaks we couldn’t avoid hitting the tree trunks just below the surface. Our journey into the “forest” proved worth the effort when, from a few feet away we saw a bird, which we were later told was a blue heron, snatch a fish from the water and eat it.

Another inlet led to a neat hidden cove where we found a small motorboat had anchored up. The driver of that boat must of had nerves of steel as there is only a narrow channel between rock outcroppings leading into the the cove. Once we reached Inks Dam we crossed over to the other side of the lake that is lined with houses and Camp Longhorn which made me wish I was a kid again so I could go there for summer camp. From what we could tell it seemed that many of the “cabins” are floating on the water with cool “obstacles” strung between them like a zipline and a wire “bridge”. Once we neared the boat launch we crossed back over to the other side of the lake and once again pulled the kayaks up on the beach.

After a short rest we switched kayaks and did one more paddle to Devils Watering Hole. Then we packed up and headed back to Austin to drop of the kayaks at ACK. Then it was back to Cedar Park in rush hour traffic for food and much needed naps. We had paddled for a total of 4 hours and had a great time. We decided that we needed to come back in the fall to camp at Inks Lake State Park and do some more paddling. Ben decided we will be buying a Wilderness Systems Ride 115 to keep at the cottage in Michigan and in the spirit of building healthier lifestyles we are talking about doing some kayak races in 2013 with the goal of competing in the Colorado River 100 in September.


New Year Resolution #1: Paddle More

Why you should paddle more in 2011

Happy New Year! We hope that 2010 was a great year for you and that 2011 welcomes you with an even better year. We can’t complain here at ACK and are very thankful for that. We had another excellent year and contribute it all to you. As we quickly dive into 2011, we find ourselves surrounded with week after week of boat shows,  Demo Day planning and of course preparing for another dynamic spring paddling season. Yep, things never slow down here at ACK. However, while we do love our work we also like to play and in 2011, it’s going to be our goal to get out and paddle more — we encourage each and every one of you to do the same!

According to several reports published in 2010, recreational kayaking has been, and continues to be, one of the fastest growing outdoor sports in the nation, and for good reason. It continues to be affordable, it’s always fun, it’s convenient, it can be healthy and most importantly, it brings families and friends together. Let’s take a few steps back and elaborate on these points a bit to remind ourselves why we all enjoy paddling and why we should get out and do it more often.

It’s still affordable – Despite an increase in manufacturing costs, kayaks prices have remained fairly stable. You’ll also find that almost every manufacturer now offers affordable entry level models. Whether you’ve been toying with the idea that you want to get into paddling or think you may need a second, third or even fourth kayak, there is no reason to why you couldn’t find something within your budget. Compared to other watercraft, kayaking is still considered to be some of the most affordable watersports to engage in and the amount of accessories you need to buy are minimal.

It’s always fun – There is no question about it, people enjoy paddling. Whether you are out to experience a peaceful paddle alone, take on the surf, cast a line or traverse some rapids you are setting yourself up for a great time.

It’s convenient – Another advantage compared to other watersports is how quickly you can be on the water, especially if you live close to a lake, pond or river. If you already have your gear stored in your kayak, all it  takes is a few minutes to load it up and once you reach your destination, you typically don’t have to wait in line to launch — just go!

It’s healthy – If you are like most people, getting fit is your number one new years resolution. It may be difficult to get out right now due to weather but why not set yourself up for a paddling fitness program this spring? Unlike running on hard pavement or riding a stationary bike in noisy and crowded gym, paddling provides a non-impact, relaxing and enjoyable workout. Here is a recommended read for those thinking about using a kayak for fitness.

It brings family and friends together – Another resolution that many will try to follow through with is to spend more time with their families and friends. Setting up weekend or day paddle trips will not only encourage you to spend more time with them but will also create unforgettable experiences for everyone involved. Not everyone has a kayak so consider adding another one as a backup, send them over to ACK or remind them that rentals are always an option. So as you begin to plan your adventures for 2011 make sure you include those that you want to spend more time with.

Now we know that you already knew all this but it’s easy to take things for granted and thought we’d offer this pleasant reminder of why we all enjoy paddling so much. On that note, we want to know why YOU enjoy paddling. Email us your reasons (First Name, Location and Reasons) and we’ll be sure to publish them in next month’s newsletter.

Have a great 2011 — get out and paddle more!