Paddling at Sunset

As a Tallahassee kayak guide, it gives me the pleasure of introducing visitors and residents alike to the beautiful and abundant rivers, lakes and paddling trails that are scattered around our gorgeous city. It never gets old seeing their faces light up when they experience an area of Tallahassee for the first time. My passion for the outdoors gives me a unique perspective on what some consider an ordinary and/or mundane experience. Take Lake Jackson for example: A six square mile lake on the Northwest side of Tallahassee, just minutes from downtown, which is known to periodically drain into the Florida aquifer through its two sinkholes. During the day it is scattered with fishing boats, water skiers, and canoeists, while a lot of fun in its own right, the lake tends to lose its serenity during the day. But when paddled beneath a full moon, it takes on a totally different light.

Our kayak trip began about an hour before sunset with a short paddle towards the Northwest end of the lake. The water was still lively with motorboats zipping along and music from the nearby ski boat playing. We paddled leisurely, zigzagging along small trails through the dense lily pads, chit-chatting all the while. Before we knew it, the sounds of motors began diminishing, the music stopped and the wind fell flat—the time had come.

Without even realizing, our conversations became stale as the sun started sinking away for the day. Silence fell over us as pastel colors streaked the sky, illuminating the tall, stacked clouds behind us. The patterns painting the sky were ever changing and growing more intense by the minute. Then just like that, the colors vanished and darkness fell upon us. The lily pads then came alive: sounds of bass and bream popping the surface, a distant call from a heron and a silhouette of an alligator broke the glass-like surface of the water.

Even with all the surrounding houses lining the lake shore, the light pollution is surprisingly low. We turned and began our short jaunt back to where our adventure began. A thunderstorm in the distance showed lightning dancing across the sky. Bats darted playfully between us, picking off mosquitoes, much to our delight. The glow from the full moon prevailed from behind the tree line as we glided along in anticipation of it revealing itself. With a few clouds to contest with, it finally showed itself in all its magnificent glory—our journey was now complete.

Delighted with the evening, we ended where we started with smiles across our faces, already reminiscing on all the events that took place just a few short moments ago. Luckily for all of us, full moons come along every month. So do yourself a favor and join us next time. Reserve your spot by contacting me at or Tally Yakkers Outfitters at

Harry Smith, A Tallahassee Native & Author Author:

Harry Smith


As a Tallahassee native, Harry has always appreciated the great outdoors. Now as a guide and long time avid kayak angler, he takes great pride in opening the eyes of veteran residents as well as newcomers to the state to all of the wonders that north Florida has to offer. Whether it is by foot, bike, or kayak, Harry never turns down an adventure and is always eager to share ideas among fellow enthusiasts. As the owner of Harry Smith Outdoors, and an ambassador for the state, he can always be found with a smile on his face and the outdoors on his mind.

You can find Harry on Facebook at or come by and see him in Railroad Square Art Park at 694-4a Industrial Dr. Tallahassee, FL 32310.

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