Trip Report: High Sierra diving

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Posted by JRM on September 20, 2001 at 16:45:28:

OK sports fans, it's been a bit, but I've been meaning to do this for several days now, and finally made time.

Last Friday, Jeff B and I (both of iredekarl fame) met for some altitude diving up at Shaver Lake. It was his first altitude dive, while if I had a jacket, it would sport a PADI Altitude Diver patch. I arrived about 20 minutes late, at 10 till 9:am, and we met in the parking lot of the Marina. The original plan was to dive for goodies under the marina, but a cursory examination led us elsewhere.

We drove down to the water's edge, and started prepping our gear. I was diving double AL 80s with BP & wings, and my new cannister light. Jeff was diving a single tank, with a Halcyon BP & Wings. First problem was the buckle on his upper tank band just imploded when he attempted to tighten it. Total failure. Hopefully the folks at Halcyon will replace it, since I can vouch for the failure. He had barely tightened it when it snapped. But, with the bottom band, the tank appeared at least stable enough to dive, so we suited up.

We had chosen a nice calm, deserted cove. There was ample boat traffic, but not much in the cove. We agreed to dive tables adjusted for altitude, and I had copied the adjusted NDL times into my wetnotes. We familiarized each other with our configs, and headed down. We descended probably 50 ft offshore, in what I estimated was probably 30-40 ffw. Wrong, try about 12. We tooled around for a bit looking for deeper water. We surfaced to deal with Jeff's tank stability, which was giving him trouble whenever we stopped swimming. Dive 1 went 25 ft for 9 minutes.

Now my computer broke the dives into two, but Jeff's allowed for surface times and counted everything as a single dive. We headed back down after maybe 2 minutes and headed out into a bit deeper water. There were lots of fish. Several trout, I think probably either Cuthroat or German Browns, some sort of spined dorsal fish, and lots of monster tadpoles. The tadpoles would bolt whenever I shined my light on them. We came accross many crawdads, including some feasting on a dead fish that someone had hooked and lost.

We managed to find a pair of sunglasses, a gold earing, a fishing net, lure, and misc. bottles and trash. It's amazing how much the HID helps in locating stuff. It really cuts through the fog. At one point Jeff decided to catch a few of the crayfish. The third one was an epic battle, with both sides attacking and counterattacking ferrociously. The fighting was intense, but a momentary lapse by Jeff's defense allowed the crawdad to strike a mighty blow, at which time both it and some of the booty were lost.

By now we were rapidly approaching the NDL limit, so we agreed to ascend. However, the boat traffic had picked up quite a bit, and since we were still in somewhat deeper water offshore, I shot the lift bag from 25 ft to mark our location. I'm wasn't sure whether it would be a deterrent or attractor of the boaters. I got a good fill and deployment (pool practice helps), clipped off the spool, and we started up. Since it was at altitude, and close to the limits, we did stops every 5 feet ascending. Three minutes each at 20,15,10, and 5. My computer profile download doesn't show the 5 ft stop, I think it stops recording somewhere around 8 ft. Not including the 5 ft stop, dive 2 went a max 35 ft for 71 minutes. Water temps were a pleasant 68 degrees.

After hauling out and getting back to the vehicles, we did a short debrief. We worked well as a team, and things went pretty smoothly. The strap was a bummer, but such things happen. Because of the altitude, my arrival that morning, and the length of our dives, we deecided to call it a day, and headed down to a local watering hole for lunch. The food was great.

It was a great trip, and I'm really looking forward to going up again. Next dive may either be the Marina, or a trip up to Huntington to try and dive some wrecks. Although I'm going to need to get the drysuit back in service for that...

I'm going to try and put together a Huntington trip in mid-late October. All are welcome. I'm thinking BBQ bash. If folks down there bring up lobster, I might be able to aquire some abalone. Please let me know if you're interested.


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