Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 29, The Great Salt Lake


The Great Salt Lake. Must be neat to swim in since the super-saltiness will make you super-buoyant. Should be fun, that's what we thought.

Justin and Shantel warned us that it is disgusting. They said it smells and you really don't want to go in it or even near it. They said there were mosquitoes. They said the bottom of the lake had sharp salt crystals that hurt feet. They said you really don't want to get any water in your mouth.

C'mon guys, how bad could it be? Laurel and I figured they must have gone to the wrong part of the lake or something. The internets said that "Swimming and sunbathing are popular on the clean, white sand beaches at Antelope Island State Park."

So we drove out to the island with Justin. Allow me to walk you through the experience. At first the sand is very hot and burns your feet -- and it's too soft to walk in with flip flops. Then there's a hard-packed sharp part to the "beach", so you put your flops back on.

Then the smell hits you. It's like something died under the dock at low tide in the Long Island Sound. Something too putrid for any animal to eat. Imagine taking that something and putting it in a pickle jar full of brine. Except it won't fit, the smell is too big.

OK, try to get over the smell. Now notice that there are fleas or mosquitoes or some evil kind of fly all over your legs and swarming around them. Thousands of them. You have to walk through a patch of ground that is fully covered in bugs. There's really no good place to lay down a blanket or towels on this "beach".

OK, now try to get over the flies. You're at the edge of the water. It looks like normal water with normal sand on the bottom. But there are lots of little brine shrimp swimming around and the top of the lake is covered with those flies. Someone in the water says, "don't worry, it's not that bad once you get in a ways."

So you wade out into the shallow water. The smell starts to recede. The shrimp don't bother you. The flies get out of the way. You're knee deep, then waist deep. The water feels a little itchy, but otherwise normal. There's a band of flies (dead and alive) floating around at one point that you shoo away with your flip flops before passing through to deeper water. Finally you try to float.

Hey, it really is buoyant! You can lie on your back, completely exhale, and still float! Fun!

At this point Laurel and I spotted an island and decided to swim to it. We quickly discovered that getting the water on your lips is a little disgusting, but getting it splashed in your eyes is downright painful.

We swam out for 30 minutes maybe but seemed to make little progress so we turned back. Our stack of beach bag, clothes, and towels was covered in flies. As we walked to the showers our skin dried off enough for us to notice a layer of salt crust all over us.

The showers felt great.


Brian said...

Excellent account of the vileness! I wouldn't go, after reading that... your friend Justin must not have been so colorful in his description.

Jackie said...

Boy, you really have to want to do something badly enough to go through that! If the smell didn't get to me first, then for sure the bugs would have convinced me to turn back. Would you do it again?

Big Wall Nuts said...

No, once was enough. I would try the Dead Sea someday tho if I'm ever over there.

Big Wall Nuts said...

Also, we drove all that way to SLC, and then drove 1.5h to get to the actual lake, so how can you turn back after that?