Splashdown in Lakes of the Clouds

2012-07-07 22:27:50.000 – Adam Brainard,  Summit Intern

Our lake of choice six weeks before the swim

There are times in life when you are compelled to do something simply to say you have done it. For fellow intern Christopher Gregg and I, this compulsion came when we learned the interns on the opposite shift had taken a dip in Lakes of the Clouds. Because Chris and I both have an adventurous spirit and are no stranger to the water (we have both been lifeguards), we quickly agreed we would have to attempt this endeavor during the following week.

Fortunately, living on top of the Mt. Washington affords a relatively short hike to Lakes of the Clouds. We departed in fantastic weather conditions: sunny skies and relatively light westerly winds; however as we made our way down, we noticed some pesky clouds closing in from the northwest. Although we made quick work of the mile and a half trail, by the time we were ready for our plunge the sun was thoroughly obstructed and winds had intensified to 20-25mph.

Unwilling to abandon the campaign, we pondered how exactly to go about our ‘dip’ into the dark, freezing abyss. Illogically deciding a quick, sharp jump in would be the best way to expedite the certain shock of the cold; we found what seemed to be a suitable entrance point with no visible rocks within a few feet of the surface (see red circle in picture). Chris, the much more seasoned swimmer, took the lead plunging into the lake with a nice splash and yelp of overwhelming cold. I soon followed suit embracing the shock of the numbing cold, and spent about a minute meandering around trying to find footing on the effectively invisible lake bottom. The sharp, rocky bottom was an even bigger dilemma for Chris, who unfortunately found a sizable cut in his foot after exiting the water. Upon discovering the injury we quickly dried off, Chris wrapped his foot in a bandanna, and we made a hasty exit toward the summit. With worries about bleeding and infection providing adrenaline, we made great time back up the rockpile, accomplishing the twelve hundred vertical feet in forty minutes. Chris was then able to properly treat the wound, and looks to make a full recovery.

All in all, we learned a few lessons about any future lake adventures. First, water shoes are a must. The bottom is rocky, sharp, and invisible to the eye, and without protection your feet are certain to be scratched or cut. Second, jumping in, as fun as it sounds, is (obviously) not smart. We knew this at the time, but let the excitement of the moment outweigh our rationale. This proved a very bad decision, as it is likely what led to Chris’s injury. Finally, the water really is as cold as you can imagine. There was snow hugging the shore well into June, and even in July it feels like liquid ice. While we prepared for this and did not spend more than a minute or two submerged, hypothermia will begin affecting your body if you continue to be exposed or are unable to dry off.

Looking back on the experience I had a lot of fun and accomplished my simple goal. I naturally wish there had not been an injury, but I am pleased it has been treated successfully. If you wish to follow in our footsteps (or ripples), please follow my tips, act responsibly, and have fun!


Adam Brainard,  Summit Intern

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