Monday, April 27, 2009

Lake Patagonia open water swim & kayak

There's a saying in triathlon of "Don't try anything new on race day." A few months ago I purchased an XTERRA Vortex sleeved wetsuit, because 1) it was on sale, and 2) I'm tired of swimming in 50 degree water with my sleeveless suit. The Vegas XTERRA race is this weekend, and no reports are out yet on water temperature. Given that I may want to wear the sleeved wetsuit, I figured I had best get to some open water to try out the new suit.

On Sunday we drove down to Lake Patagonia with our inflatable kayak. Zac would stay next to me in the kayak to help me navigate, and prevent boats from running me over. During our last trip to REI we purchased the stabilizer backbone and 2-person spray skirt for it. So this would give us a chance to try out the new kayak accessories.

Zac inflated the boat while I engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the wetsuit to get it on. Having sleeves is a pain to deal with. I finally got the suit on and helped Zac carry the kayak down to the water. I got in the water and held the boat for him while he got in, and then I pushed the boat into the deeper water.

The water was a little chilly at first, but not bad. I told Zac that I wanted to swim for 1 mile total, so I planned to swim for 15 minutes and turn around. I got my face in the water to get over the shock of cold water, and started swimming. Zac had my Garmin on, so he could track the distance for us. I slowly swam along, getting the feel of the new suit. There was a lot more resistance to overcome with my arms, but after awhile it was like regular swimming. We stayed on one side of the lake not too far from the shore, and I passed a lot of people in boats that were fishing. I was the only one swimming in the main portion of the lake. We made our way to the other end and passed some pilons that said "Fish Sanctuary" on them. I could only swim for a little bit more before my hands were hitting the muddy bottom. Time to turn around.

On the way back, once in awhile Zac would pull in front of me, so I guessed that was the signal for me to follow him. There were more boats on the lake, so he was keeping me away from them. Thankfully our kayak is bright orange so it is easy for boaters to spot. I was also getting warm at this point. Sleeves make a difference, and the suit was borderline too warm for the lake. I'm guessing the water temperature was at least 65, maybe more. This is why I'm keeping my sleeveless wetsuit, so that I can pick the suit to wear in races depending on water temperature.

I swam in to the swim beach area and stopped my watch right at the 35 minute mark, and Zac said we had gone exactly 1 mile. I helped him carry the boat back up to the parking lot. While I got out of my wetsuit, he put the second seat in and the spray skirt on. We grabbed our lunch bag and strapped it to the front and headed back out on the lake.

This time we decided to go west, since we already knew what the lake looked like to the east. We wandered around rocky coves and found a good spot to pull up and park the boat. It was only a 10 minute paddling trip, but we were both starving. We found a shady tree for our picnic spot. After lunch, we headed back out onto the lake and paddled to the other end. It didn't take very long, even with the headwind we were battling. No one was skiing in this area, but we did have to watch out for faster boats. After checking out the dam and spillway, we decided to head back. Overall it was a 40 minute trip back to the car. The lake isn't very big.

Next time I'm thinking we'll head down to Parker Canyon Lake as it has more coves and should have less crowds. The lake was crowded that weekend and since it's only 18 miles from Nogales it draws a lot of people. Parker Canyon is in the opposite direction, so I'm hoping it's a bit more quiet.

A cool wood sailboat that was cruising the lake:

Our kayak with the new spray skirt installed:

Where we parked for lunch:

Our shady lunch spot:
View from our kayak as we headed west on the lake:

Zac in the back:
Me in the front:Bridge by the Visitor's Center on our return trip:

1 comment:

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