4 Mile Crossing of Lake Wenatchee
DATE OF SWIM: 8/17/19
A self-organized swim adventure, joined by three other Notorious Alki Swimmers. We braved incessant whitecaps, kite boarders and motor boats. Luckily our trusty kayaker fed us bananas and vanilla energy goo from the boat to help keep us energized and swimming strong!
An Adventure Swim
This May, my boyfriend and I decided to check out Twin Lakes near Lake Wenatchee for a backpacking trip with his pup. We stopped at Lake Wenatchee State Park beach after our trip, I took one look at the windy lake, saw the kayak rentals next to a burger stand, asked the rental man the length of the lake (5 miles) and decided I'd be back to swim the full 5 miles.
Over the next few months, I rallied an enthusiastic group together and we decided to attempt to swim the length! We luckily had one friend who was willing to kayak as our support boat.
(Nearly) Perfect Logistics
We planned the swim a few weeks prior with a Google doc and Facebook group messenger, all done remotely. I called the ranger station a few times for information on kayak rentals, temperature and conditions and added it all to the doc. One of the swimmers was able to leave early on Friday and snag the last available campsite at Nason Creek Campground, right by the state park beach. The rest of us (two swimmers, including myself, and our kayaker) arrived at 8:30 pm after work on Friday. We camped, ate mac and cheese (carbo load! the best part!) with field roast under the stars and Luci lights, and went to bed relatively early.
In the morning, we went straight to the kayak rentals at 9 am (opening time!) and managed to rent a kayak for four hours. Since I could not find rental information online during planning, hopefully somehow finds this useful:
Open 9 am - 7 pm, rentals start at 9 am. Last boat has to be in by 7 pm.
You can rent kayaks in 1, 2, 4 hour increments
Canoes are the same price as double kayaks
We strapped a single kayak to one car, left another car at the beach, and drove north around the lake. It was very difficult to find a (public) place to put in and leave the car at this side of the beach. It was too hard to find anything at the 5 mile point, at the very end of the lake. We ended up finding a spot on N. Shore Drive but it was quite precarious. The spot we found to put in made our swim 4 miles long.
If someone were to repeat this itinerary, I'd recommend driving around the other side of the lake and staying overnight at Glacier View Campground. You could leave a car there instead and not worry about getting towed and parking illegally in a construction site (oops). Glacier View is located roughly 4 miles down the lake, across from where we started. Alternatively, you could just buy a cabin for $500K on N. Shore Drive. Or maybe plan to bake cookies for the neighbors walking down the street to help convince them to let you park in their driveway. Our natural charm did not work ;)
A Windy, Choppy, Sunny Swim
The swim felt pretty uncomfortable in the beginning. I had to get used to swimming in intense chop again, waves kept crashing into my face and my buoy kept hitting me in the head. I slowly stripped myself of the buoy, and later, my gloves, and about halfway, my booties and second swim cap. We stopped for two quick feeds, since we weren't on any particular schedule, we could take our time with the swim. It was gorgeous - mountains surrounded us on either sides! Throughout the swim, we were pushed by the wind and waves. Luckily we swam with the wind, not against it. It would have been impossible to complete the swim if we had tried to go the opposite direction.
We passed by a few kite boarders who whizzed past us. We encountered a large motor boat during the swim too. Our kayaker kept us safe, he lifted up his paddle and talked to the boaters to let them know we were swimming. We weren't as visible as we would be with buoys (we had to take them off since they kept interfering with swimming). Overall, the swim required a lot of sighting. The motor boat had seemingly come out of nowhere.
We all swam slightly different paces, I was way behind everyone. It was tough for our kayaker to keep up with all of us as he was getting pushed by the wind too, so I decided to swim closer to shore to feel a bit safer. This helped with my mental fear of fierce boaters, stray kite boarders and wild jet skiiers. At moments during this long, meditative swim, I felt the odd and reassuring feeling of reconnecting strongly with my inner child. I remembered what it was like to swim in my pool as a kid - free, calm and alone. I also thought about the tips on gliding that my friend gave me before we started swimming. These things combined helped me feel stronger and less scared.
After three hours, we made it to a little rock that jutted out of the water. I struggled to wash up on the rock with the waves like a true mermaid. When I finally got up, we did some celebratory rock yoga. Afterwards, I ripped off my wetsuit and started swimming in very shallow water that met the river.
We hung out at the little island near the public beach and played.
Together, we stormed the beach until rocks became sand. We gave each other fist pumps as congratulations when we arrived. When we got out, the beach was so windy that I wondered why people even go to this beach to sunbathe! In my opinion, it's way better to brave the whitecaps!
Shortly after, we put the kayak back at the rental spot and realized it was closed - they had shut down for the day because of the wind was too strong. We had just made it in time to snag a rental when they opened! I felt so lucky this worked out, we would not have been able to swim this lake without kayak support.
This was such a fun swim! It was one of my longest swims yet. I loved the self-organized, relaxed nature of it. I feel like I became closer to my swim friends and have more confidence to plan another swim like this again. We all hope to do another one by the end of the summer - our goal is to find a solid 6 miler!