Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cold. So Cold.

Neoprene swim socks.
Neoprene gloves.
Neoprene swim cap.
Earplugs.
Wetsuit.

I eye the lake. My intrepid companion, clad only in a shortie, sits nearby. How bad could it be, we reason. We might be pushing swim season just a hair, but surely we could stay in for thirty minutes...couldn't we?

Wallowa Lake is a glacially fed lake around which our lives sometimes revolve. In winter, it sometimes freezes over enough for skating. In summer, we swim, because we have no other place to go, the lone motel with a pool refusing us entry unless we rent a room. I've come to swimming late, a one-time victim of plantar fasciitis, and I have to admit that swimming is...boring. You stare at the bottom of the pool, thinking random thoughts and trying to pass the unsuspecting swimmers in the next lane for enjoyment.  Swimming is not as interesting as hiking, or running, or biking. You don't get anywhere.

Unless you don't have anywhere to swim, suddenly, and you miss it. There's something about floating weightlessly, everything aligning to send you through the upper envelope of water in  a way that really shouldn't be possible. That's why we swim in the lake, even though it's never warm, even though now, in May, it's borderline crazy.

We wade in. "It's not that bad!" we say. Until it is. My companion swims rapidly with her head out of the water, in a modified breaststroke she has perfected because of her fear of putting her head in and seeing fish. I can't keep up unless I swim the way I know how, head full in the water, and the chill makes me gasp. I flip on my back, I dogpaddle, and try again. We make for the buoy, which seems miles away. We get there.

When we finally reach shore, I am amazed to see that only ten minutes have passed. We later learn that the water temperature is 46 degrees. We suspect we are the first swimmers of the season. We sit aimlessly in the seventy degree sun, postponing return to our computers. We feel cold. We feel alive.

8 comments:

  1. That lake looks AMAZING. If I weren't jealous of your mountains already, I am now. My goodness.

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    1. You guys need to come visit. Run the trails! They are challenging.

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  2. You are one hardcore swimmer!

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  3. I've often wondered if anyone swims in those amazingly clear lakes you've got out west.

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  4. Years ago I would go to my local pool to swim, my name is probably still on the board there in the over 100 miles category, One problem I found out that I had, was hitting my head on the end of the pool while swimming on my back!
    John McGilvra

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    1. I have that same problem! I'm paranoid now and turn over too soon!

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  5. Know the feeling having swum in a Scottish Loch in the middle of summer. It certainly gets the blood circulating. Love the pic!

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  6. OK you take the cake for craziness! I thought 56 in Sept was cold. You beat me by 10 degrees. Remember hypothermia sets in quicker I water because it zaps all the heat out of you immediately. Please be careful Miss Adventurous!

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