Location: Crystal Spring, Idaho
Max Depth: 6 feet
Date: February 3, 2003
Party Members: Matt Adsitt, Michelle Lyman
Description (courtesy Michelle):
Zen: Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word for “quietude”, which originated from the Sanskrit word for “meditation”, “to see, observe”. The practice of Zen Buddhism is to achieve enlightenment through meditation, self-contemplation and intuition.
Zen Scuba: Experience had by two desperate land-locked desert divers in less than 10 feet of the clearest water known on Earth. Crystal Spring (aka Crystal Reef), located in Niagara Springs State Park, Wendell, ID, is home to hundreds of 14-16 in inch Rainbow trout that appear to be suspended in mid…nothing. The water coming out of the Snake River aquifer is so pure, so clear, that the fish appeared to be simply floating, not even swimming.
We entered the spring after much awkward fumbling on the dock, Matt doing a *boat entry* and me simply doing a sitting entry after failing to lift my tank over the lip of the dock. The water was cool at 57 degrees, but all sensation of water disappeared with the first look beneath the surface. There were a few strands of green mossy substance that our entry has stirred up, other than that, the water was like looking into nothing. We submerged, as much as the depth of the shallow pond allowed, and begin swimming toward the center of the pond. Here and there, a rainbow trout darted passed, awing us with its size and agility. Occasionally, one that had been hooked by a fisherman and broke away swam by, training a line which we would try to grab. As we neared the spot where the spring poured its pure water into the pond, the water became increasingly clearer and the fish numbers began growing to astounding numbers! We swam through them, around the, with them. We were among them. Swimming on, we entered a part of the pond where the fish were slightly thinner in number (although not size!) and the greenery was like something out of Horton Hears a Who. Hair like moss covered the bottom like a 12 inch thick shag carpet, tall skinny brown plants waved as we passed, and everywhere, bulbous mounds of Dr. Seuss-like plants housed unseen treasures that can only be seen in the dreams of a child…or Matt… We swam on, ½ diving, ½ snorkeling with regulators, until we reached a darker area of the pond. Here, the resident fish were carp instead of trout. Several dozen carp and one strange looking striped fish that appeared to be terribly out of place; it belonged somewhere tropical and exotic, not schooling up with the big ugly carp. As we swam on, looking for a way around the forest of pond weed that was now blocking our path to the waterfall, we spooked several small schools of 18 inch carp. Finding no way around, we began looking for a way through. In the center of the mass, a tunnel approximately 3X3 lay in wait, as if daring us to enter the darkness and swim for the light seen on the other side. Matt swam through first, taking great care not to disturb the silty bottom. Now it was my turn…sure that there were HUGE carp hiding, waiting, looking for a bite size scuba diver to have for lunch, I swam through as quickly as possible…trying to be conscious of the silt, and being more conscious of survival in the midst of the unknown dangers that surly live in 10 feet of pond water! Safely on the other side, we swam up under the waterfall and absorbed the sensation of the water pounding down on us from above; the feel, the sound, all magnified under the water to created an intriguing experience. I’m sure the young couple above us on the bridge thought we were nuts. We turned and headed back through the tunnel, which wasn’t so ominous the second time, and set a heading for the center of the pond…, it was there that we reached the peak of Zen Scuba. We settled in amongst the trout. We became one with the trout. We BECAME trout. Matt found a comfy spot on the bottom, I floated up to the surface (2 feet above Matt) and we remained, unmoving except when I felt it necessary to convince any observers that I was not a floater. Time stopped for us…I honestly don’t know how long we stayed with the trout as part of their environment. Nothing existed except hundreds of trout suspended and swimming around us in water so clear it didn’t exist. After maybe 20 minutes, maybe 40 minutes, we set off in search of crawdads. Matt caught one and we gently played with it for a while. Growing bored after it decided that my finger was a threat and grabbed on, we returned it to the rocks and went back to the trout. Back to what was truly the most beautiful experience we’ve ever had in the water. I’ve made several dives on various Hawaiian Islands, and Matt recently dove Key Largo, and this is far and away the most incredible, most peaceful, most enlightened diving either of us has ever experienced. Beauty at it’s finest. True Scuba Zen.
Location: Fisherman's Pond, Idaho
Max Depth: 13 feet
Date: March 15, 2003
Party Members: Matt Adsitt, Michelle Lyman
Sitting in the tub on a Saturday afternoon, I suddenly realized I was in the wrong water. I needed to dive. I NEEDED to get out of the house that I’d been confined to with 3 days of the flu. I called Matt and simply said “why are we not diving?” I was at his house within the hour and we were on our way to Hagerman, home of fossil beds and the famous Hagerman Horse…and a small pond called Fisherman Pond. We had a long haul from the car to the pond, and Matt had to carry my heavy gear since I was still weak from having been sick. It made for a tiring trek and we were both REALLY ready to get in by the time we finally got to the pond! We walked down the steps and into the chilly water and down we went. This desert pond is about twice the depth of Crystal Spring, which puts it at a whopping 15 -18 feet! We swam along the silty bottom, occasionally seeing a trout, until we reached the opposite side. Here we saw a unique blonde trout that was probably 5-6 inches in length. This trout appeared a couple more times as we completed our circle of the pond. After about 15 minutes, we’d seen everything there was to see and were ready to make another pass just to stay in the water when Matt decided it was time to shove me down into the silt. I put my hands down to stop myself and sunk up to my elbows in the muck. At this point, all civilized, grown up behavior stopped. We began seal-diving our chests into the bottom, stirring up clouds of powder fine silt. I played catch with Matt’s bubbles as he exhaled from below me, he lay on his back with his feet sticking up in the air and I proceeded to re-live my childhood dreams of becoming a circus acrobat, doing handstands and flips off his flippered feet. We moved on (after claiming a golf ball as a treasure for Mikayla) and headed for the rocks below the falls. On the way, Matt noticed a trail in the silt that had somehow been spared from our antics. Following the trail, we found a small crawdad that had been backing itself along the bottom. We played with it for a while, then swam on to the rocky portion of the pond where Matt decided that my BC needed to have a rapid inflate; shooting me 3 feet to the surface. Once in the rocks we found little tiny sculpin/bullhead looking fish…the largest being maybe 2 inches. They would see us coming in for a closer look and come up out of their holes and stare us down. We could move in until we were inches from their eyes before they’d dart away. We spent about 10-15 minutes staring down defiant fish before Matt found another crawdad. He picked it up and caught my attention to come over and look. On one of his fingers were two nearly microscopic baby crawdads that had come out from under Mom’s tail. I gently took on onto my finger and studied it, watching the way it moved. Hoping it would find its way back to mom, I replaced it on the rock and watched it dart away. After orphaning the crawdads, we decided to head back for shore. Before getting out, though, I thought it wise to power dive to the bottom of the pond to see just how deep I could submerge myself in the silt…alas…only up to my elbows. I was hoping for more. We climbed out and started heading back, which took even longer than walking out because by this time, my 3 days of not eating were really catching up to me. There was lightening not far in the distance and ominous looking clouds approaching with a quickness so I waddled along as fast as possible. We managed to get our gear stowed and dry clothes on before the first raindrops hit the window. Matt’s door closed…my door closed…drop 1 hit…in the time it took to start the engine, we were in a downpour so heavy that it required the wipers to be on high, but we were safe and dry in the car. Perfect timing after a perfectly uncivilized, unconventional dive. J