Location: Homestead Crater, Midway Utah
Max Depth: 64 feet for me, ~40 feet for Travis
Date: October 19-20, 2002
Party Members: Matt Adsitt, Travis Adsitt, Michelle & Mikayla Lyman, Mary Konke, Meg & Darin(?), Margie (Pat)
Dives: 1 day for Michelle and I, two days for Travis and his class
Links: Homestead Crater
We loaded up Michelle's truck with kids and scuba gear Friday after work and headed South to the Homestead Crater in Midway Utah. The crater is a natural hot spring, 65 feet deep and 60 feet across. It's covered by a natural (limestone?) dome built up from eons of mineral deposits. Light spills into the cavern through an 8-foot diameter natural sky light at the very summit of the dome. In 96 they dug a 110 foot tunnel through the wall of the dome, built a small dock and opened for business. Now sixteen thousand people a year pay $22 an hour to scuba dive, snorkel and bath in the 93 degree mineral water. That sounds kind of disgusting, but the water is replaced in sufficient volume that it is actually very clear and they are quite strict about keeping it that way. An 8-foot natural skylight at the top of the dome illuminate the cavern just enough that we could function comfortably without loosing the feel of being underground.
Michelle and I helped get the kids ready to go and watched as the class submerged for their first "open water" dive. Then we, along with Dale (Meg's husband) got into our own gear, and slipped below the surface. The first thing you notice of course is the warmth. Having dove in the Puget sound the weekend before, the contrast between cold water diving and hot tub diving was amazing. Not only because of the temperature difference, but the ease of motion without the cumbersome wetsuit, gloves and hood made the experience very easy and relaxing.
After descending a few feet, the visual experience began to evolve as our eyes adjust to the lighting. The skylight above filtered through the water to make everything very blue from just a few feet deep. We continued down to about twenty feet where Travis' class was swimming around getting use to their new environment and trying to get their buoyancy just right.
We continued down to the 45 foot level and found a wagon wheel that was suspended from the bottom with ropes, a couple of PVC "hoops" and a trapeze. We played around on the equipment for a while, doing flips on the trapeze and shooting the hoops. Then turned on our lights and explored a little deeper. The rules say that you aren't suppose to swim within ten feet of the 65 foot bottom to prevent agitating the silt. So we lowered ourselves on a buoy line without kicking (technically not swimming right?). We went to 55 feet and could see silt covered objects on the bottom but nothing really that interesting.
On our second dive, I adjusted my buoyancy so that my body would stay vertical with my fins straight up, and pulled myself down the line until I could touch the bottom. It wasn't really much of a bottom. My fingers simply disappeared into a layer of silt that was at least ten degrees hotter than the water I was suspended in. Kind of freaky in the dark. Anyway, we didn't stir up the silt, so no harm done.
On our way up, we stopped to watch the class swimming laps at the 35 foot level before the group surfaced and packed up for the day.
On day two, the class practiced more buoyancy skills, emergency ascent from twenty feet on a single breath, and they went deeper too. They all saw the frog and the stingray perched on the wagon wheel (we had told them there were monsters on the wheel).
Travis actually ran out of air on his second dive. Marji said she was watching his air closely and decided it was okay to drain the tank. He had to switch tanks to finish his emergency ascent and then he was done. Well, almost. Marji still made him put away her gear before he could leave and then we jetted.
The way Michelle remembers it:
We headed to Midway, UT…I know…who dives in Utah? Well, we did. There’s a very large hot spring, called Homestead Crater, which is 65 feet deep and 35 feet across. The water was a steamy 94 degrees (sure beats the 54 degrees of the previous weekend!) and no wet suits were required! Mikayla and Travis went off with their class to do their final “open” water skills and drills, so Matt and I decided to explore. Since there is no life in the spring, and it’s relatively dark, the managers of the resort have kindly suspended “toys” in the water. There was a platform in the middle and on one side for the classes (one having a fake sea turtle nesting on it), a set of “trapeze” bars; one suspended at about 20 feet and another at about 45 feet, some PVC diamonds to swim through at about 45 feet and an old wagon wheel suspended at about 40 feet (with more toy critters resting on it). We played for a while, making essentially two dives that day (we surfaced and rested for 27 minutes at the top to cool our heads before diving back down). The second day of the class we just hung out and spent some time laying on the dock watching the class 30 feet below us instead of diving.