I went to visit Zilker Park several times during the month of October; however, its usual peaceful serenity was lacking. ACL, a huge music festival, takes place at Zilker every year for two weekends in a row. Zilker is closed for two weeks before and after ACL in order to prepare for the event and then clean up. I was only able to visit Zilker after ACL occurred because the event was so huge.
The second weekend of the event, torrential downpour swept the city of Austin. Because of this, the last day of ACL was cancelled due to flooding. Below are pictures of the immense water damage.
Given that the environment was already struggling with changes as a result of the mass amounts of people and stages on the grass, the flooding probably did not help make things any easier. As a result of this, it is very wise that the park is closed for two weeks following the event to preserve the grass and repair the environment.
I was unaware of the fact that Zilker would not be open for two weeks after ACL, so I went the following weekend hoping to hang out and enjoy the fresh air at the park. It’s always a nice bike ride to Zilker, mostly because a lot of it is downhill. I cruised down South Congress, finally being able to take a break from my studies and enjoy being outside. I always go under the bridge and bike along the water, my tires gripping the gravel that paves the path. I bike past paddleboard rentals, dogs jumping in the water, runners and walkers alike. Being surrounded by trees on either side reminds me of Central Park in New York, and makes it easy to forget I am in the middle of a big city.
A canopy of trees above me and small bushes to my side frame my path until I get to a bridge to cross the water and get to Zilker. Below is a picture of the view from the bridge.
I love going paddleboarding through the water below and it’s always fun jumping from the bridge into the water. I’ve lost one too many pairs of sunglasses jumping off of that bridge. Note to self: take sunglasses off before jumping! Spending time on the water is great way to get fresh air and enjoy the environment. I crossed the bridge and headed up Barton Springs, slowly nearing my destination to Zilker. I was sadly disappointed when I immediately saw the fences enclosing the park. Unlike prior times when I had visited, there were no dogs running wild, no kites, no sunbathers, and the volleyball courts were empty. It was almost depressing to see the Park so lifeless.
Luckily, I was able to take pictures of the environment on my trip despite not being able to enter the actual park. In a Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold segregates the components of outdoor recreation, beginning with its physical objects:
“We begin with the simplest and most obvious: the physical objects that the outdoorsman may see, find, capture, and carry away. In this category are wild crops such as game and fish, and the symbols or tokens of achievement such as heads, hides, photographs, and specimen.” –Aldo Leopold
Although here Leopold is discussing game hunting, the idea is still the same. I was able to capture several photographs to capture my presence at certain places on my bike ride.
Although Zilker was closed for most of October, I still biked along the river and enjoyed being close to the water and nature. Now that the park has reopened to the public, I will be able to observe the environment rather than merely looking through a gated fence.