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.