December 11, 2008

Posted on 14. Mar, 2009 by Greg Mossfeldt in Minnewanka

Today was sunny but John McCuaig and I were quite aware of the snow on the ground, which had not been present earlier when we were out in late November with Brian Nadwidny. We had a lot of ice as well then but we didn’t require the snowshoes and shovel to make way to the waters edge.

When we pulled up to the ramp it was anticipated the wardens may have blocked off the access to the via snow piling but there wasn’t enough snow accumulated yet so we just sauntered on by. John McCuaig and I were in the 4 X 4 so the snow just added to the adventure but John Weisbrich decided he could make it work too so drove his truck right on in and placed himself on the ramp as well. John W. just put snow tires on his truck so figured this should be sufficient to get closer to the water. Terry Forsyth then pulled in with his candy wagon and figured out very quickly this wasn’t the place for him and with a little persuasion we had him back out on the road safely upstream.

Terry is also known as our go to guy if we need something and today was no exception. I asked if anyone brought a snow shovel … out comes his Mary Poppins bag … low and behold a snow shovel appears. Terry offered the shovel and I cleared an area off in order to suit up then cleaned a platform on the boat ramp for my camera gear. Thanks again for that Terry!

The concern with rebreather diving in the cold is keeping the breathing loop of temperature so the humidity does not freeze and damage the contents. The scrubber also works around an exothermic reaction so pre breathing them is a must to start the process moving forward and ensuring systems are operating properly. The divers prepared their units, completed positive and negative checks diligently and we were then off to examine our cold water environment.

We took a few fun pictures en route to the water and once we were in completed a head to toe along with necessary bubble checks.

The dive was uneventful but I do appreciate the fellows working the scene so we could get some good imaging from the 1912 dive area. Down to the sluiceway and then over to the live intake. Up they go to the top of the pump house then down to make it through the conduit at the base of the pump house. Proving grounds for silt and perfected buoyancy. The 1912 Dam area has great background for the photographer. Water would vary the thermometer from 35º F on the surface to a warmer 36ºF once down in the basement where the water column was somewhat blanketed by the upper layers exposed to the cool surface temperatures. Needless to say we weren’t in for a marathon dive but we still amused ourselves for over one hour of bottom time. The skills John was required of were difficult in this mind-numbing environment but he did well in order to proceed in the learning process.

Congratulations to Mr. McCuaig in certification on the rEvo CCR. John’s perseverance we have admired on many occasions. The cold and logistics making way to Minnewanka is often overwhelming to many individuals but not a barrier for John.

The group did notice how many trout crossed our line of observation today, as we were silent with our closed circuit rebreathers plus the cold water slowed them somewhat. It was good to catch some of the marine life in motion here and interact with the other side.

The thought was to have a short surface interval and then get back in the water. This mentality I have not been accomplice to since my early days of meeting the requirements to participate in all out salesman diving. This would be one of those days so we completed a twenty two minute surface interval and decided to get back in the water where our gear including the rebreathers would be more comfortable than in the wind and freezing temperatures surrounding us on the surface.

Problem was Terry wasn’t parked on the snow covered ramp. The John’s said Terry went for a corn dog and to warm his feet so it was off and into the water for the three of us. We are hoping Terry will understand the situation as the cold often wreaks havoc on the thinking pattern.

When we made it to about twenty feet my left hand was cold so I held the glove up in the water column so air from the drysuit could fill it up. I wanted to pull my fingers out of the rubber finger digits. In order to ball up my fist similar to what we do with mittens but one has to pull up on the rubber and down with the hand, I went a little to far and caused the seal to be compromised. I am usually pretty good in the cold and am able to tough it out. The cold I experienced on this one was a little to much though and I made it straight to home base using a slight of hand signal which Guntram didn’t pick up but John McCuaig did so John Weisbrich went on his way while John McCuaig and I swam up the ramp to secure the glove and continue with our dive. I pulled the glove off at the surface and sealed it again but the glove was already internally wet so the rest of the dive was somewhat excruciating. Even at that though we completed another forty minute dive and was the end of the water section segment to our fine day.

It was then time to say goodbye to the lake and we loaded up to make off to the highway. John Weisbrich with his new winter tires did not do so well in the uphill snow orientation. We pushed and shoved his truck but his dragster foot on the peddle just sent rocks pounding into our crotches. I asked John if I could try the peddle and he gladly gave up the responsibility. I edged the vehicle slowly forward but could not resist the urge to plow through a snow embankment to add to the show of prowess and satisfy my ego. We managed to free the vehicle. Terry parked in the Mountain Goat licking parking lot so we had a good laugh at Terry’s situation which John McCuaig had experienced earlier. The Mountain Goat’s at Minnewanka enjoy licking the road salt off the vehicles. While doing so the animals tongues form polka dots all over the sideboards which appears quite amusing.

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