There are degrees and kinds of solitude. An island in a lake has one kind; but lakes have boats, and there is always the chance that one might land to pay you a visit. A peak in the clouds has another kind; but most peaks have trails, and trails have tourists. —Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
I thought this was a notable quote to begin my September blog since I decided to visit the boardwalk and other dirt trails surrounding Lady Bird Lake near my apartment off of Riverside Drive. The boardwalk trail at Lady Bird Lake connects the current end of the trail by the Austin Statesman Building to Lakeshore Park, closing the southeastern gap of the hike and bike trail, a 10.1 mile trail loop. The hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake was the beginning vision to beautify the shores of Austin’s central city lake created by Lady Bird Johnson and other community leaders. Multiple environmental studies have been conducted and completed for the Boardwalk Trail project, which include a wildlife habitat survey, cultural and historical reviews, vegetation assessments, various tree surveys, a Critical Environmental Features survey, an Ordinary High Water Mark survey, and wetland delineations. So no animals, insects, or wildlife were harmed in the construction of this newly built boardwalk (except minimal tree removal!).
My observations included for this month’s blog consisted of dirt trails leading up to the newly built Boardwalk as well as the paved entrance of the Boardwalk and Lady Bird Lake surrounding it. August and September, in my opinion as well as many others’ opinions, are two very hot months in comparison to the summer months of June and July. Because of the high temperatures and humidity index, I decided to complete my studies in the evening, around seven o’clock. The days I went exploring, the weather was partially cloudy, at around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a couple degrees.
The wildlife the surrounding these areas, various wild flowers and vegetation near banks of the lake, was unusually quiet although I heard many cicadas flexing their tymbals, drum -like organs found in their abdomens, like a child’s click-clack toy. Gnats, however, were the main insects swarming the trails I walked on, probably due to the vegetation nearby they feed off of. Human activity was high considering everyone more than likely had the same idea as me—let’s beat the heat! I noticed that each trail I walked had different human interactions. When I started my journey around the dirt trails, leading up to the boardwalk, there were people doing yoga in the grass fields surrounding the trails as well as sitting on park benches located by the banks of Lady Bird Lake. As I continued walking on the trail, many people were walking their dog, running, or biking. Once I reached the actual boardwalk, human activity was at an ultimate high compared to the dirt trails leading up to it; people ran in groups of five or more while others ran alone or with the companion of their dog. In Lady Bird Lake, I observed rowing teams row their boats across the lake while the water was at a stand-still.
As Leopold mentions in the quote above, I noticed different human interactions with their environment; from the people doing yoga to the groups of runners and rowers, each group acknowledged their environment and utilized to the best use of its ability. As I will continue to observe the coming of winter around Lady Bird Lake, perhaps the human interactions will fall. For now, I will continue my walk around the loop.