Saw this lone tree growing out of the rock on the shore of this lake up in the Sierras. Thought to myself, “I’m gonna jump out of this boat and swim over to that rock and have The Wife take my picture standing by that tree. That’ll be a cool photo.” So I talked to The Wife about it while I worked up the courage to jump into the chilly water. But there was a stiff breeze on the lake that day, and my boat’s anchor didn’t quite reach bottom. So while I was talking, we were drifting – away from the rock. Faster than I really realized.
So in I jump and off I go.
Here’s the thing about lakes in the Sierras. They’re up high – this one was somewhere around 7,000 feet. The air up there is a bit thin. You see where this is going. I’m in lousy shape to begin with, and now I’m swimming farther than I planned in a cold lake at high elevation. About halfway along, I start to think, “I’m not going to make it.” I look back at the boat. It has continued to drift away from the rock – and so also, away from me. It’s a long way off. My breathing is rapid and heavy – I can’t seem to get enough air into my lungs. Not even enough to call for help.
My thought: “Well, this is a stupid way to die. Trying to get a cool photograph of myself. Stupid.”
Eventually, I managed to alter my course and head for the marshy (and closer) shore to the right of the rock. I made it, sort of, and sat there in the muck, gasping for air, for what felt like a long time. Then I hauled myself up onto the rock and got my picture taken. (By this point, The Wife had fired up the boat’s motor and moved in closer.)