We definitely lucked out on Saturday morning. A combination of higher air temperatures and wavy water the day before had cleared up our swim spot for the most part. The winds had not yet moved in at 7:00am, so we suited up right away to take advantage of the relatively calm water.
Dave had already de-iced Ladder #1 on a previous swim. But he needed to hammer away at the lower rungs as the ice had re-accumulated. I was wearing my brand new H2Odyssey 4mm/3mm surfing wetsuit along with the usual thermo gear on my head, hands, and feet. I opted to go with the Cressi freedivers mask in lieu of swim goggles because I wanted very little of my face exposed to the 33F water.
Four of the Ochoas had come out to watch us make our swim and to wish us good luck. Fortunately, the new wetsuit held up quite well in the freezing water, and I didn’t really experience any immersion shock upon entering the drink. I was also quite pleased with how well the Cressi worked out in these colder temperatures.
Dave and I kept a fairly slow pace and stuck close to the wall. It was pretty slow going because we were essentially swimming in a colloidal mixture of 33F water and 32F (frozen) slush. In fact, as we stopped for a moment at the 1/8 mile point, we noticed that ice crystals had begun to form on our gloves, hoods, and booties. Apparently we were providing an ideal surface area for the formation of ice crystals, so the lake was slowly encasing our extremities in ice.
We pressed on a bit further and then decided to work our way back to Ladder #1. The wind had picked up a bit and was pushing heavier ice and slush in towards the retaining wall. We swam out about 10 meters from Ladder #1, and it was like navigating a kelp bed – but all ice. We figured that was as good a sign as any to call it a day. Fortunately for us, we had a support crew show up to help us de-ice. Chris and his daughter Erin were waiting out at Ladder #1 with a thermos of hot water which they mercifully poured into our gloves and onto our hoods (thanks!).
Once again, if you stayed indoors and moped around all day, you really missed out!
The ice field
Dave and I swimming in a giant Slurpee
Erin at Ladder #1
The author on dry land again