Thursday, August 13, 2015

Swim in Bennett Lake, Alaska

This morning Cathi and I boarded a train in Skagway to go up White Pass to Bennett Lake, where many people went to for during the Alaska Gold Rush in 1849.  I picked this excursion because it was the only place where I was confident that I could swim without boats, and without being told I couldn't swim there.

The ride on the train was fun.  It was rainy and cold on the way up there.  When we arrived they invited everyone in to the replica train station where they served lunch.  The stop was only for one hour and I didn't want to risk getting in my swim up there which I had been dreaming about.  I had my suit already on under my clothes.  So while everyone else was getting lunch we walked around behind the train over to the shore where I quickly stripped off my clothes, blew up my SSD and put my GPS in there.

Here's the course I took:

As I was wading in at about waist level I stopped for a quick pee.  Just then the conductor of the train yelled out from one of the train platforms, I couldn't hear, but Cathi who was right there on the shoreline yelled something back. I quickly started swimming hoping he didn't yell something like "Hey get out of there you can't be in there!"  I heard her yell and point to the old disintegrating dock about 200 yards or so away telling him I was just swimming along shore and meeting here at that point, where I would swim back.  I saw her on the shore following along and taking pictures.

I saw an old rusty flat shovel underwater (with the handle broken off).  I wonder if that shovel was from the Gold Rush days.  I do remember the guide on the train saying that if we saw anything on shoreline to leave it.  Taking anything from the land that could be considered a antique from that timeline is illegal.

The water was 51 degrees according to my watch.  I felt great!  I returned and told Cathi I'd swim the other direction for another 200 yards or so and come back.  The water went from crystal clear to a little cloudy so I turned back and then repeated that course to the old dock and back.  My stopwatch read 21 minutes 10 seconds and GPS read .69 miles.

I felt fine getting out and getting my clothes on.  But by the time I got back on the train (only about 10 minutes before the rest of the entire group of tourists, I was into some heavy shaking.  The recovery was quite dramatic.  My breathing was quick and shivering was moderate.  By the time people started to board it was at a fairly concealable level.

Cathi asked the tour guide if she has seen anyone swimming there before during her seasons of taking people up there.  She said, "I've seen people kayak, but today was the first time seeing anyone swim in the lake."  I was pretty surprised.  It's such a pretty place.  It was definitely the highlight of my entire Alaskan Cruise.  You can get more details of the trip here ->

Getting ready.  

The view of our train, with the red train station in the background.  
Cloudy day.  Air temp was about as cold as the water. (51°F)
Turn around point at the old dock.

What an adventure!

Total: .69 miles in 21:10 in 51°F in breathtaking area in the remote area of Alaska.  Can't get to this part of the lake except by White Pass Train.

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