Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Great Waldo Crossing of 2012

As open water swimming adventures go, it was top of the heap. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite as dramatic as last year's traverse of Crater Lake, but our group crossing of Waldo Lake last weekend, one of the clearest lakes in the world, was breathtaking from start to finish.

When we started swimming, the lake was so smooth it was like a blue mirror of the early morning sky above. Water temperatures around 60 made it pleasant, if slightly chilly near the shore, and only a few degrees colder out toward the middle. We started off with ten swimmers, plus our support crew of a kayak and paddleboard. Three of the swimmers planned to do a shorter out-and-back route, while seven of us had signed on to swim from North Waldo Campground to Shadow Bay in the south, two of the only three places on the lake's rim where a road comes into the lake. The rest of the lake is surrounded by forest and wilderness, a unique and beautiful place.

While I typically post a photo of us in wetsuits about to start swimming, I thought I'd prove that we are actually normal people who wear real clothing most of the time. Okay, we're mostly normal people who wear neoprene a lot of the time, but here we are in our warm clothes on the beach before the swim.

So this is where I say something about the water clarity at Waldo. It's simply stupendous. You can see a hundred feet or more, making it feel more like flying above a submerged topography than like swimming. As you can see, we weren't above taking a break to clown around under the water. When you're swimming with a group, you could literally look around and see the other swimmers next to you like they were hovering in thin air. I spent at least fifteen minutes of the swim tripping out on all of the swirls of light on the bottom beneath me, the prisms created by colliding waves. The soundtrack in my head played "Right here right now, there is no other place I want to be" on an endless loop.

At a couple of spots, we got out and sat on the beach to warm up. The silence at Waldo is pristine, and for a moment we sat without speaking, listening to nothing more than the slight sighs of the water against the rocks at the edge, looking out over the unspoiled beauty of the clouds reflected around us. Although some wind and chop picked up in the last mile or so of our 6.2 mile swim, most of it was calm and lovely and I felt strangely like it was over all too soon.

But of course, then came a big barbeque, potluck, campfire, and an evening of friendship and fun. Once again, I find myself one of the luckiest people on the planet, because I get to experience such beauty and share it with some amazing people.

1 comment:

Marv said...

That sounds like a wonderful adventure and a great time with friends. Photos say it was indeed a beautiful place to be.