Lake Quinault Crossing

DATE OF SWIM: 6/14/19

Spontaneous trip across Olympic Peninsula lake, found a kayak rental spot and had my suit in the car!

Route

Quinault Lodge to Lochaerie Resort

Distance

2 Miles

Water

Mid 50s

Support

Kayak, Dad, Swim Buoy

I didn't plan to swim across Lake Quinault.

But as the Wetsuit Weekender, I had brought my suit in the car on a road trip with my Dad through the Olympic Peninsula. I just didn't know when I may use it for a long-distance swim!

Flexible Planning

My dad and I set off for Gravescreek Campground on the Olympic Peninsula, but once we got there, the 95 degree heat was too much to bear. We decided to find a different campground near Lake Quinault so we could swim. I had packed my wetsuit just in case I wanted to swim - we hadn't planned being near Lake Quinault. I'd attempted to swim Lake Quinault once before, but giant logs and no safety kayak prevented my crossing.

Driving along the lake, we found Falls Creek Campground. The area was beautiful and had a perfect little piece of public beach for easy swimming access. We decided to pitch our tent at the campground, and I tested out the waters with a short 30 minute swim.

Unexpected Kayak Rentals

We decided to walk through the Quinault Lodge from our campground to check out the beach there. Unexpectedly, we found kayak rentals. Of course, as the Wetsuit Weekender, I had the idea to try to swim across the lake with my Dad kayaking by my side. I asked the kayak rental spot how far it was across the lake - they said maybe 2 miles.

We made the decision to come back the next morning to rent a tandem kayak for two hours ($40). I'd plan to swim across with my Dad kayaking, and then hop in the kayak on the way back.

A Guess of Distance

Since the Lodge was unsure of the distance, we went to the Ranger Station close by to the campground. Our spontaneous move from Gravescreek to Falls Creek worked out seamlessly - Ranger Station close by, perfect swimming beach at the campground, general store for beer and wine refills and kayak rentals.

I told the Ranger Station that I was going to swim across and asked them what they suspected the distance was. They said they weren't totally sure, but likely 2 miles. The Ranger also told me to come back after to let them know how it was, they were intrigued!

 

Off We Go

My Dad and I set off across the lake. I set reasonable goals - get used to the water, swim a little, talk to Dad, take a break, swim again. I typically have a tough time remembering what it's like to swim if I've taken a break for a while. I've been skipping Masters practice in lieu of open water swims, at a detriment. Swimming in the lake reminded me that Masters will help with my endurance, confidence with swimming, and general comfort in water.

I was happy that I decided to swim the day before - it's also always important for me to test the water (color, feel, current, temperature) before I decide to embark on a long distance journey.

I took a lot of breaks, more than normal. I was swimming against the current for a while, and I felt a bit out of shape and scared of logs that may protrude out of the water.

The water was murky and turquoise.

I could only see my hands in front of me, pushing through the water, gliding.

My side ached, sitting on a plane the week before flying to Ireland had tweaked my back a bit.

Dad kayaked steadily alongside me, but he was getting pushed by the current far ahead of me.

I didn't feel comfortable in the water until about half way, in the middle of the lake. While I was swimming, I thought maybe I was crazy to do this without really knowing the water and what's underneath, but I kept going.

I knew I was safer with the buoy and my Dad around.

finally got to the other side of the lake, aiming for what we realized was a private beach. The owner started walking down the hill. I told Dad to aim for Lochaerie Resort instead, where my friends and I have an annual mushroom hunting cabin trip every year. I swam a little to the left and the owner of the private cabin came over to us. I thought maybe she'd tell us we weren't allowed to land at Lochaerie either, but instead she congratulated me for swimming across the lake. She told me to please come inside and have a snack and grab a towel if I needed one. I was thankful for the kindness of strangers. We chatted for a while, and eventually Dad and I decided to make the trip back across the lake in the kayak.

This trip was the first of many lake swims throughout Washington. I plan to do a distance in Lake Chelan and Wenatchee this summer as well. The spontaneity of swimming in unknown water (within safe limits) keeps me motivated to swim and manage ambiguity. Plus, it was cool to say I did it to the Rangers at the station post-swim!

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NOTE: I am not an expert and this site is meant to give you tips on OWS and some ideas for adventures. If you're really serious about OWS, a swim coach is probably helpful. Your safety is ultimately in your own hands. Be smart out there and have fun!