Summer Experience #3 – Kayaking on Lady Bird Johnson Lake

My first kayaking experience in an ‘urban’ lake – a Saturday morning float on Lake Lady Bird Johnson just south of downtown Austin, TX. Created by the second of two Texas dams on the Colorado River, as it flows through south central Texas (the first dam creates Lake Travis), Lake Lady Bird offers tranquil waters and an amazing view of the Austin skyline.

The Austin Rowing Club was practicing hard at both team and individual rowing in the section of the lake where we were paddling.  Skiffs slipped by us, with instructors leading their way in motorboats.  

In addition to life of the human kind, here’s a list of the animals we saw:
one turtle diving, two swans a swimming, three  fish a-jumping –
(enough of that – it feels absolutely nothing like Christmas outside – it’s HOT) –
many ducks both in and out of the water, at least eight turtle heads bobbing up to look at us and then ducking back down into the tepid water, two white herons, one great blue heron, one green heron, countless pigeons, and many barn swallows

We passed under Austin’s famous ‘bat’ bridge –  hundreds, if not thousands of bat voices chirped above us. Fifty yards before we reached the bridge, the smell of bat guano – an unmistakeable acrid smell unlike any other animal manure – hung heavy in the air. We paddled to a stop under the shadow of the bridge where we could look up. The unique construction of this bridge created perfect bat houses for these winged mammals. It is one of the famous sights in Austin, and people come from around the country to see the bats come out from under the bridge at dusk and then return before dawn.
Cool, and peaceful under the bridge, the guano aroma was faint . We lingered in the shadows before paddling back out into the greenish river.

It was an easy paddle, the wind causing only minor ripples on the water, and no real current to paddle with, or against. Our adventure lasted a peaceful two hours, and was shared by many others who had either brought their own or rented canoes, kayaks or even paddle boards to enjoy the water.

Overall, the paddle was easy and relaxing. Definitely one to try if you like kayaking on calm water.

The Austin skyline

The Austin ‘bat’ bridge

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