Saturday, July 18, 2015

Swimming on the edge of the world

I stand at the edge of the lake and look through all my belongings. Wetsuit, check. Neoprene swim cap, check. Neoprene socks, check. Goggles, check. Watch, fins, check check. I'm ready to go. We step into water that recently came from snow.

"Let's swim to the Jett's dock," T says, treading water. I look ahead--it's the farthest I have ever swam in this lake. It's cold, and I need to be sure I can make it back. But I am up for the challenge.

We have no pool here, so we are die hards, a small band of cold water swimmers. We exchange messages and phone calls: "When are you going to swim?" and reports: "Choppy today!" or, "I swam to the green house and back!" It's a loose group, a Swim Your Own Swim group, since we are all different. M swims with her face out of the water because she is afraid of fish (but she is in the water, so props); T is such a fast swimmer that I need to wear fins to keep within shouting distance.

I look way, way down to the bottom of the lake. The water is so clear that it appears to be close enough to touch the rocks and sand below me, but I know it is not. It feels like I am suspended between water and earth, like I am in a different world; that is the impossibility of swimming. I didn't learn how until about ten years ago when a running injury forced me to find something else to do, and it still seems like magic.

This is way better than pool swimming, the endless back and forth of a Sea World tank. The season is short and sweet and you'd better get out there when it's on.

I have not escaped mishaps however. Swimming back from past the Jett dock, I collided with something wet and furry. A yellow Lab blinked back at me. Where had it come from, and where was it going? It was another lake mystery.

There are also ambitious stand up paddlers to avoid, and the random water skier, so we hug the shores and the no wake zones. We stagger out of the lake like drunks, the cold water affecting our balance in our inner ears. You don't realize how much energy is expended during swimming because it feels easy, until you are done, your body a limp noodle on the beach.

 I race home to take a hot shower to warm up. Swimming in cold water feels different than running, or biking, or hiking. There's a glow through my whole body. I hope swim season lasts a long time this year.

In other news: Monkey Bars and Flash hit the trail on the 20th. I'll be back August 2 with trail reports! Get outdoors, everybody!

This is my pool. The snow is gone now though.

10 comments:

  1. Your route on the PCT this time looks as if it will be beautiful. Lakes! The lake you swim in at home has probably the loveliest setting....when you take your head out of the water! Take a break from long distance hiking and swim in one of the slightly warmer mountain lakes....and tell us all about it!

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  2. Can't wait to read and hear all about your next hike. I need to get out and swim more. One more week till I can get in a pool or lake with my new eyes. Have fun hiking to, and swimming in beautiful alpine lakes that you always seem to find while on your wonderful adventures.

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  3. Can't wait to read and hear all about your next hike. I need to get out and swim more. One more week till I can get in a pool or lake with my new eyes. Have fun hiking to, and swimming in beautiful alpine lakes that you always seem to find while on your wonderful adventures.

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  4. A spectacular photo of your swimming pool. Happy hiking.

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  5. You are so brave! I've got a fear of swimming in deep water, and can't bring myself to swim in lakes. I made friends with the pool at my gym during my foot surgery rehab (swimming was a sanity saver, let me tell ya!) Although I usually prefer to recreate outdoors, swimming is the exception. Good luck on your upcoming PCT adventure! Can't wait to hear all about it.

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    1. Linda, I have to say that wearing fins really helped me. With fins I know I can always make it to shore. I don't always use them but when I'm going far or its cold I do. They're the small zoomer kind.

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  6. Monkey Bars? Monkey Bars? Who in the world is Monkey Bars? LOL Have a great trip, Jelly Bean.

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  7. Looks beautiful. I had my first swim in a mountain lake last weekend. Brrr. No houses there though. Enjoy your trip!!

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