Scubadillo swamp dive June 26-27, 1999

The swampdivers.


For the June swamp dive, we had originally planned to have about three dives, each in a different Highland Lake, i.e. Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis and Lake Austin. As the club dive for June was at Lake Travis, that lake was crossed off the list. Among the others, we had only heard of people diving in Inks Lake, so we concentrated on that one. Mike Lester was in charge of the Toledo Bend swamp dive (unfortunately canceled) and he was out of town a lot prior to the dive, so I did the planning. Unfortunately, the more I looked into diving in any of the lakes, the more it looked like they weren't very good. Actually, a guy in a dive store in Austin said when I called, that:  "Inks Lake got it's name for a reason..." Even though I didn't do that dive (more on that later), I can still say he wasn't very far off. Since I couldn't find any good dive spots - I decided to look outside of the original lakes I had looked at. Two lakes stood out as good candidates for the other swamp dives for the weekend: Stillhouse Hollow Lake and, of course, Lake Travis as the grand prize for enduring the other dives.

As Inks Lake was the center of attention, it was only natural to reserve campsites at Inks Lake State Park. It is a very popular park, and for a reason - it's good. The only drawback to that is that it's crowded! But we got our campsites, and fairly good ones too, even though they weren't at the water. The water was so close anyway, so that wasn't a problem.

So who did go on the trip? Well, after an initial interest from 15-20 people, it settled on 6 people: Me, Mike Lester, Hedde Reinert, Peggy Gore, Jerry Latham and our newest Scubadillo member, Marie Overheart. We met Saturday morning at Peggy's house to pack our stuff into three cars and then we took off for our first stop: Stillhouse Hollow Lake outside Temple. We stopped in at Scuba Plus in Temple to get directions for the dive site. When I talked to them on the phone before the trip, only one place was suggested, but at the store, they gave directions to another place too. After some discussion we decided on this new site. It was a little past the dam at the spillway just south of it. It was about a 1/2 mile from the main road, but fortunately we all had a SUV or a truck, so we drove across the spillway to the edge of it. There we found out that getting to the water wouldn't be as easy as the people in the store had led us to believe it would be. We had about a 40-60 ft drop down to the water! We finally found a way down, but you really needed some mountaineering experience!! From the edge of the spillway, and from the shore, the water looked clear and promised good visibility. So we hauled our stuff down there and got into the water. It was a very rocky bottom, with no vegetation and only a few fish. At around 30 feet we felt the thermocline and didn't venture too far below it as the visibility didn't improve. Well, it wasn't much to brag about in the first place - around 6 ft. So after about 25 minutes we surfaced and declared it to be a real swamp dive! Getting out of the water wasn't easy, slippery rock and no good places to grab onto made it an adventure. And getting the gear up the steep trail was murder! After getting up to the cars, I wanted to say I should quit smoking, but I couldn't - I don't smoke... After packing the cars again, we headed to the state park to set up camp.

After getting to the campsites and setting up camp, Peggy started cooking dinner. She had taken care of the whole food detail and she did an excellent job of it. The Chuckwagon Girls would be honored to have here! For dinner we had steaks, baked potatoes and corn on the cobs - tasted great! While the food was on the grill, we went to check out the Inks Lake dive site - Devil's waterhole. Turns out to be a dump - we couldn't really go diving at the waterhole as there were too many people around diving from the cliffs, so we found a spot a little off from there. It wasn't great though, but it would do as a swamp dive. Later, Jerry and Marie went to check out the other parts of the park and found a better spot, so after dinner we went there instead. Since I had been sick most of the week before and still didn't feel perfect, I passed on the opportunity to experience visibility measured in inches. The rest did the required 10 minutes as 10 feet to have it counted as a swamp dive, and that was it. We then sat round talking 'til bedtime and then tucked ourselves in for a good nights sleep.

In the morning (way to early for me...), we had breakfast with enough cholesterol to kill a vegetarian right there. While having the breakfast, we got some company - a deer found our leftover corn and stood there munching on it. It then got closer to see if we had anything more. It didn't get closer than 15 ft from us though... It liked the bacon we threw at her!

After breakfast we took the scenic route down to Lake Travis and the Mansfield Dam for the third, and final swamp dive of the weekend. We stopped by at Pisces scuba to fill our tanks. At the dive site where we, and about 200 more divers, had congregated, we got into the water as soon as we could - we had at least 95 degrees and a blazing sun, so you didn't want to stay out of the water too long. Unfortunately both Peggy and Hedde had equipment problems. Peggy had a O-ring blow and we had to replace it. And Hedde had a fin strap break. Fortunately he was able to make a repair down by the water. After some delay, we got going. I had an underwater map of the site and we headed for a sailboat at around 80 feet. Unfortunately our navigation wasn't up to par and we found another of the many boats sunken there. The water was also very murky after the heavy rains we had had earlier in the week and it didn't really clear up below the thermocline either. So we swam around down there for a little while without finding anything interesting and then we surfaced, again declaring it a swamp dive. In total we had three real swamp dives that weekend! To celebrate the good weekend (except for the diving), we had lunch at the Oasis, the restaurant on the hill overlooking Lake Travis - a beautiful view! Peggy declared their "Perfect Margarita" to be the best she had ever had! After that, we drove back to Dallas, three (two) dives more in the logbook and with a smile on our faces after a great weekend!


Getting ready for the first swampdive of the weekend. First assemble the gear, and then haul it down to the water.

Everybody happy to get out of the water after a dive with about 6 foot visibility and nothing to see - well, that's not true - Mike and I saw a sofa;-)

Peggy is really feeding us!

From 6 foot visibility in Stillhouse Hollow Lake to 6 inches in Inks Lake,i.e. a "real" swampdive.

Due to the poor visibility in the lake, Mike didn't see where he was going and walked into a rock. Fortunately we had a nurse with us that took really good care of his knee.

Peggy is describing to Mike how a real breakfast is made in Jamaica.

And here it is - "The Breakfast". Equal amounts of food and cholesterol.

The deer seem to like both our leftovers from dinner and our breakfast.

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