With storm clouds rolling into town, I headed south to the Berkshires of Massachusetts to join the Simon's Rock crew for a Wednesday evening open water swim (my first). I picked up my buddy Brent in Williamstown and we car pooled down to meet up with the crew. Instead of a swim from the public boat launch on the southern part of Goose Pond we journeyed to the northern end of the Lake for what was dubbed an epic swim, which did not disappoint.
(Looking east along the north end of Goose Pond. The canal is along the northern edge of the lake)
The water was rough in the main lake, with small whitecaps forming and strongly pushing us towards the opening of the canal. Goose spills into a protected reserve called Upper Goose Pond, which is actually on the Application Trail route in the area and is totally undeveloped. Swimming through the canal was indeed a treat, made possible due to some heavy storms over the past few days. The trees formed a strong canopy over the passage, and I kept feeling like I was moving through a scene from an Indian Jones movie! Goose is pretty deep, but the canal was quite shallow in places and full of some wonderful rocks and schools of fish to follow.
(Here is Todd coming through the winding passage)
The view from the other side, into Upper Goose Pond, was absolutely stunning and the water was transformed from a rough swell to near placid conditions. The sun was starting to lower as we headed out to explore the small island and take a short break before heading back through the canal to our launch beach.
(The pod of swimmers, nine in total, as we headed away from the mouth of the canal to the island right of center with our safe swimmer buoys in tow)
We swam into the sun the whole way back, and once we returned to Goose Pond after the canal the churning water met us along with the wind. It was a tough swim back but we were able to sight off a lone tall tree on the northern edge of the lake.
The conditions (despite the wind) were most ideal for a swim, with the water in the upper 60's and the air in the upper 70's. Our track shows a 1.77 mile jaunt in total, and the storms affected my area did not materialize during our swim. Besides the tremendous beauty of the area and the great fellowship with the swimmers there, the previous few times this particular path for this swim has been aborted due to the summertime storms that seem to flare up so quickly. I was so excited to be able to join in this adventure!
Wow - busy weekend, but a great one. Able to ride my motorcycle to church Sunday, lead the service at one of the area nursing homes (we're looking at the miracles of Jesus), then church in the evening. I felt tired Monday so didn't swim before work, just slept. After work last night I went to the old family homestead with Preston and had a mini-reunion over a campfire on "Pig Back," the hill north of the farm that was used for summer play and winter sledding and snowboarding. Nice to get back there.
Had breakfast with Lena this morning before going over to the college to help. Painted, helped to hang track for drop ceiling, then was chief schlep with carpeting - cutting, carrying, and general lugging around. The best part was reconnecting with my dad's best friend from NH, who is in charge of carpeting - got to hear stories of their adventures with Nordic skiing and jumping. Just the right divine appointment from God to spend the day with Al. Hope to help him again tomorrow or next week.
After a shower and paying some bills, I headed down to pick up Brent en route to Queechy Lake (just past the northern end of the Taconic Parkway) for a 1.23 swim with the Berkshire gang. This is actually one of the closest swims for me at just over an hour, and a great lake that is not too weedy and clear, with lots of fish swimming about. As you can tell from the photo below, the thunderstorms held off but the sun was hiding throughout the swim. Only seven tonight, and because I had to get home we did not stay long for the post-race potluck.
Before I forget, I did an easy 1200yds on Monday before work to stretch out my body. I think that I'm about as sore as I was last year following Kingdom.
Today I helped my father-in-law move in the morning, then had lunch with the family in town at the brew pub. As I was getting ready to head out, the sky opened up (yet again) and it rained hard. I checked the radar and it looked fine for my destination, so I headed off around 3:30. Met with my friend Brent in Williamstown around 4pm, the we drove down to Goose Pond in Lee, MA, for the Wednesday night Berkshire OW swim (my first time this year).
I swam Goose last year, and loved the swim. Tonight was another great exploration, both in the water and afterwards at the potluck! Brent and I were there first, and then Rick from CT arrived. Rick has really ramped up his OW events over the past year, adding a leg of 8Bridges last month (you can follow him at his blog). The weather was only overcast there, and other folks arrived a bit later. Armed with a couple of swim buoys, we headed out ahead of the group - here is the map of our swim. 1.87 miles in about an hour for us; water temp was 78 at the boat launch and 80 in the middle of the lake.
We went along the basic course, but farther north to add some distance. One guy was pulling his kid on waterskies, otherwise no other boat traffic on the water, which was a little murky from the recent rain. I did watch plenty of fish dart around below, through the rocks on the bottom of the bowl. We doubled back, but the group had apparently already crossed the lake, so we followed suit. After stopping on the other side for a moment, we heard very faint rumblings of thunder and decided to swim back to our launch point. The blue sky was peaking out, but still cloudy where we were, so it was safe. We finally caught up to some of the group ahead and exited to get dressed and have supper.
The food was again plentiful, although only 7 (of the 9) stayed to eat. Fresh salads, bbq chicken, watermelon, and cookies were consumed over great conversation. I took a couple of shots here and here.
After a nice ride back to Williamstown, Brent and I made plans to work out another trip to the Berkshires to join in the great fun. With his encouragement, I will also sign up for the Betsy Owens swim in Lake Placid next month, the USMS 2 mile champs.
I got goosed tonight! Goose Pond in Lee, MA, that is.
Numbers and words tonight for a change ...
- 1.57 miles completed in 54:21, which you can view here.
- 39 fish and numerous large rocks viewed while swimming.
- 12 total swimmers, 10 with orange safe swimmer buoys, 1 wife and 1child joined in the fun.
- 1 great post-swim potluck: 2 chicken choices, 3 veggie plates, 9 various salads, 2 chip offerings, 1 box of wine or homebrew beer from a growler, 1 tin of brownies.
(My contribution included: 2 eggplants and green peppers, 4 tomatoes, and parsley from our garden, plus 3 potatoes and other spices, simmered into a great summer stew)
- 100 miles round trip (145 minutes total) on my motorcycle for 1 excellent swim.
- Now time for 800mg of ibuprofen, and some rolling around on 1 tennis ball before
I made it down (with my son) to Quechee Lake in Canaan, NY, this evening and joined the Simon's Rock crew for another great OW swim. I think that the final count was 18 swimmers, ranging in age from teen to master, and we completed a 1.27 mile loop in the lake. It is one of the closer swims for me to drive to from Vermont, and even though the water quality was not the best that I have seen in the past, it was clear and I was able to spot some fish swimming around. There was some boat traffic, but since most in the pod are wearing the orange safety floats (as well as loud caps) and Freddy's wife joined us in a kayak we were safe. Even saw a really cool floating dock with two boats attached - looked like the party spot! Here is a Google maps track of the swim.
After the swim we went to the Backwater Grill for some nutrition - almost all of us made it. I was able to talk with my buddy Jon, who introduced me to this group and their Wednesday night swims a couple of years ago. He just completed the Lake Placid Ironman, his first at that distance. Great stuff.
I am still sore after the pellet moving madness on Monday - my hammies and buttocks are tight as well as my lower back. Made for an interesting twelve hours on my feet yesterday! Felt good to swim tonight, especially since the group is so friendly.
For the girls, tomorrow is the final day of clinic in Kenya, where they are now set up in Dandora, a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. One member of the team is hospitalized and five more have symptoms of malaria, while most are exhausted as the two week medical mission trip comes to an end. It is hard to close up the clinics, as so many are in need of not only physical attention from the team but also the message of God's love that they share. Sometimes just a smile is enough to help a person know that they are loved, regardless of the language one speaks.
Drove to Monterey this evening to join the PaceMakers for their Wednesday evening OW swim. Not California, silly, but rather Massachusetts (a much more reasonable 80 minute drive.
I arranged with Brent to carpool, as he works on the way to Lake Garfield and is also doing the Kingdom Swim. Great to get the chance to know him better, and prove that I can get lost even while following the GPS with someone besides my wife in the car.
Meet Bill and a total of five others for a swim in this gem of a lake: 70.5 degree water, visibility ten feet, and buoys making key sections throughout. I tried out my new Safe Swimmer orange buoy and found no problems with it at all, actually having to stop from time to time to make sure it was still attached! I had my sandals, shirt, shorts, keys, and phone secure and dry the whole swim.
We swam to the big rock after the dogleg, stopping a couple of times to regroup before meeting two of the late-comers on the return trip. We went at a leisurely pace, enjoying the full blue canvas dotted with fluffy white clouds above the small chop and glistening evening sun of the surface. Not a boat to be seen, but plenty of birds sailing through the air and singing to us. Glorious Creation!
All told, a great 2 mile swim in 70 minutes, followed by a small potluck if bbq chicken, fresh greens, potato salad and Tabouli, and some cookies! Some goof from Vermont only brought granola bars, but he seemed to get the hint that more is expected next time.
Nice day in southern Vermont, so I made the trip to the Berkshires (you know, James Taylor and Norman Rockwell, even though he did spend a lot of time in Arlington, Vermont) for an open water swim tonight. There is a group of folks that meet weekly from May through September to hit the many clean lakes in the area, and my buddy Jon from the team got me on the list.
We swam Richmond Pond, the closest to me at just over 40 miles, so I rode my motorcycle down for the 5pm swim. Total of six swimmers and one kayak, and I swam the longer loop (just over one mile). The water was cool, but warmer than the Atlantic in July, so I felt good without the wetsuit. I used this as a primer for the race this weekend, and did ok with some of the weeds/milfoil reaching out and grabbing me.
They will swim once more next week, but I gave to work and will miss it. Usually there is a potluck after the swim, but tonight we just munched on freshly picked apples and pretzels as the sun began setting. A great thing about OW - we saw an osprey fly around, just before a bald eagle soared overhead! Amazing - my first time seeing this majestic bird!