Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lake Taaaahhh!-hoe Diving – June 3-4, 2008

After starting my new job, I was in dire need of some relaxation. Fortunately, I had already scheduled a weekend away to try our hand at diving Lake Tahoe with Ron and Carrie. The weather appeared to be cooperating so we were all systems go.

As there is no place in the Lake Tahoe basin where you are able to fill tanks, leaving the nearest option Reno, and since were planning on diving 2 tanks per day, Mark and I had to rent additional tanks so that we would have a total of 8 (4 each). With the Honda weighted down with tanks, weights and all of our other gear, including sleeping bags, cameras, etc – we headed off to meet Carrie and Ron outside Sacramento, just about ½ of the way to the Lake. We arrived just before 7 AM and off loaded our gear into Ron’s dive truck which then carried all of our gear, tanks and bodies up the 90 minute drive up through the mountains and down into the basin. It was a beautiful drive, making me remember all of the fun times Mark and I had spent up there snowboarding, thrilled at the prospect of being able to try something new in the beautiful blue waters of Tahoe.

We arrived and went to Kent’s cabin, met Emily and Heather. So we were all off to launch the boat around a Carnelian Bay. We dove out of the harbor in search of the elusive “sailboat” while working on weighting issues and adjusting to freshwater diving and the coldness of the water in the lake. While the computer didn’t register that it was that much colder than Monterey, there was something really chilling about the water in Tahoe, resulting in “brain freeze” for almost all of us upon entry and initial descent. It was quite surprising actually as the ambient temperature was quite warm. Perhaps it was the contrast between the air and the water which caused the freeze.

The diving was great, although quite different from saltwater diving. The first and most remarkable aspect of it is the lack of life. I know its there, but man, the few fish that you see are just so skittish of your presence that they hide every time your reg makes any noise. I only saw fish on a few dives, some crayfish the 1st dive, although we weren’t going into crayfish territory on any of the other dives, so it was not that they weren’t there, since Emily and Heather were their constant companions on just about every dive! The other remarkable aspect about Tahoe diving is the amount of algae/silt that lies on everything. It is really important to remain in a good position with respects to your buoyancy in order to prevent stirring it all up and ruining a section of the dive site for everyone. The nice thing about the dives, however, are plentiful as well. One of the best is the ability to drink the water while diving. As someone who oftentimes experiences dry mouth (resulting in coughing at depth), it is wonderful to just be able to remove my regulator and take a sip of water. Normally I just rinse, so being able to drink the water was quite nice, plus it tastes great! As well, I really enjoyed the fact that Mark and I were able to be a bit more playful and practice some skills underwater. We had an impromptu football game with a piece of wood, wrote messages on rocks, practice navigation and various other skills like buddy breathing, mask flood/clear, mask retrieval, etc.

The scenery, what there is, is also very pretty. The boulders were a beautiful part of the diving. And, oddly enough, simultaneously sort of creepy. They scatter the floor, especially on our 3rd dive of the weekend, off the coast of the Cal-Neva resort. They are just massive, and it makes you wonder what geological force made them end up in the lake? Some of them are almost split in half, like they cracked open. Another beautifully eerie part of diving Tahoe is the way that the depth changes. You can be over 60 feet of water and move 10 yards and it drops down to 200 feet. While puttering around looking for sites, we would habitually encounter this phenomenon. And, provided your buoyancy is good, you can swim right over this “ledge” or wall and be left in awe of the fact that you can only see this expansive rock wall that just disappears into the depths.

It was a wonderful weekend with great company. Ron and Carrie and Kent are just such gracious hosts who go above and beyond with helping divers feel comfortable, opening their homes, boats and resources and knowledge to others. I feel grateful to have been able to dive with them again, and hope to do so again in the future.

Next stop - MEXICO! Hoorah for warm water diving!

Dive Statistics:
Dive #60 – Saturday, 06/07/08 – Meeks Bay – Lake Tahoe, California. 1:45 PM. Max depth 61 feet, average depth 29 feet. Bottom time 33 minutes. Water temp 52°, vis approximately 35-40 feet. Surface interval – 2 hours 57 minutes.

Dive #61 – Saturday, 06/07/08 – Rubicon Wall – Lake Tahoe, California. 4:54 PM. Max depth 45 feet, average depth 29 feet. Bottom time 17 minutes. Water temp 50°, viz approximately 40-45 feet.

Dive #62 – Sunday, 06/08/08 – Cal-Neva Resort – Lake Tahoe, California. 12:22 PM. Max depth 72 feet, average depth 31 feet. Bottom time 37 minutes. Water temp 52°, viz approximately 45-50 feet. Surface interval – 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Dive #63 – Sunday, 06/08/08 – Barges @ Emerald Bay – Lake Tahoe, California. 3:05 PM. Max depth 39 feet, average depth 23 feet. Bottom time 32 minutes. Water temp 54°, viz approximately 40-45 feet.

Favorite Photo:
Underwater rock writing. :)