Tuesday, February 26, 2013

nICE Diving

Sorry this blog went stale for a few weeks. No whining but knee pain following my race kept me out of the Adventure Circuit  for two weeks. Work has been requiring more of my time as well as catch up housework. Before the AH I was riding all the time and lost the balance between work/play/chores so 3 weeks to correct that and rehab the knee.

I've been diving with the same crew for a few years because lets be honest there are only so many people that want to swim under the ice, year after year after year...

This post is going to wander a bit just to bridge the better pictures from the last year because you can only generate so much story from swimming. Even if it's under water, under ice. I assure you its a blast hanging out with friends and diving all day but the Show&Tell is as weak as tax reform.

We go to Mille Lacs last weekend, spend a night at a hotel in Wahkon, MN and then dive again Sunday.
Below is 30 inches of ice that was removed to make room for a diver to enter. My team pushes the block down under the ice because it's hundreds of pound but they can be removed if you want to put in the effort.

 Once the hole is open we but a portable ice fishing shack over it mostly to hide from the wind and blowing snow but we heat it none the less. The darkness also allows us to see about 15 feet down to the rocks on the bottom. Gear doesn't freeze once it's heated to the high 40 or 50's. We heat water on Turkey Cookers and put it in coolers so we can dip anything that's frozen or cold into the hot water. That being fingers or gear.

We dive in winter because it's the best season. The algae dies and without boats and waves stirring up the bottom visibility is as good as it's ever going to get. We don't need to portage gear to the shore or load a small boat or swim from shore through weeds so thick you could bail hay. We drive to the site, cut a hole and go directly to the prize, anchors.

Anchors don't have any value but it's something to do and it's easy to see who is winning. Anything worth bringing back to the hole gets some credit unless we throw it back in once the divers leaves the hole. <he he he>

We eat well but the nutritional content is questionable. Sushi, Crab, Amber Jack, Burgers, Brats, and Pringles. 

Lets not get too technical about the order of events. We're not drinking and diving but we're not saints.

Below is a fun day a few weeks back when I win the "How small of a hole can you fit in!" Terry holds the ice saw and I get into a hole so small I exhale to pass the middle ribs.

Nate values equilateral triangles and roomy at that. He's a very good diver but not lean as a crab leg like me.

You're on a lake with little shelter and less carpet so you change into dive gear when and where you need to.

Every dive site is different and we change sites 3 or more time a day. It takes experience to not lose anything and keep your gear in a single spot. To lose a $300 dive computer the size of a large watch sucks.

Gear is a learning experience as well. Terry had US Mil Surplus crampons. They got the job done!

Popo (nickname) had some bad luck with an ice shack. he he he.... You go PO, 
"Don't take no crap from no shack."

This is gear for 2 divers and it's maybe 300 pounds. It means nothing to pull it 1/2 mile to the first site and then over a mile to the car at the end of the day.

We jumped Lake Minnetonka and by chance cut the hole directly above a pickup truck that got lost to the lake. Its old and blue but we figure it was some young driver that didn't know any better.

This is an inside joke, the hat is my buddy Terry.

We make a little crustacean tank for no reason at all. I wish I could explain but it's not my idea.

 So long as we're talking about nature and Crayfish lets look at something I find fascinating. Bubbles.

The ice hole is cut through 30 inches of ice and exposes an interesting layer of bubbles. I've dropped into ice this thick many times and never seen this pattern.

I can't explain how this happened but my guess is the arctic clipper and the -20 temps put ice on so fast it trapped gasses that otherwise would have escaped.

Time in the shack getting geared up also looks like getting out. Terry is getting out. He takes his fins off last so this must be getting out. If he was getting in, he'd be pulling on the fin strap.

Nate is just up for a status report. Think of it as late breaking news.  All is good or a Bob Marley is playing the bottom of Milli Lacs.

 We score a few anchors and have a great time diving with our buddies from Isanti County. John is getting his trophy for winning the last Anchor Challenge by getting 50 anchors in a season, I get 3rd at 40 and miss catching Nate at 41 for 2nd place.

We have been called the G-Men. The G stands for Gilligan's. It wasn't meant to be a complement but we made it one. Life is what you make it and the G-MEN rule the ice with superhero flare. 

and on that, We are the G-MEN!