Ultimate Solo Fortune Trip...
- As planned, Sheriffdiver Ron and I arrived at about 1:00 PM Thursday after an 8 hour drive. Weather was decent... 60 degrees, partly cloudy, and hardly any wind. We got in a couple of nice dives... Water totally clear as usual. Fall colors were peak, I think. Magnificent!
- We had reservations at Chicaugon Lake Inn which is about 5 miles out in the country from Iron River. Nice clean place with a country club about a half mile down the road... There we found a great restaurant with steaks, prime rib, burgers, pizza... All excellent.
- Everything was panning out great until Ron had to go back home unexpectedly. So, for the rest of the trip I was on my own. I was a little uncomfortable about it but then I thought, "If Fortune Pond was in my town, I'd be over there by myself all the time." So, I just shifted gears, took my time to plan for and deal with the weather... And I ended up having a great time diving plus some "Alone Time" to reflect on my life.
( I shot some selfies with the GoPro and will add them to this report later... I think I got a good one of me and the Jim's Grim Reaper.)
- It was raining hard and steady Friday so I went into town and got some pancakes. The rain let up so I headed out to the lake. It was dead calm, still in the 50+ degree temps, cloudy but no rain. So I suited up and went for a nice scooter dive. When I came up it was raining and windy with temps dropping. I got out of my wet things, and into dry clothes and rubber boots. No let up on the rain so I went for a drive in the Fall colors.
- The rain stopped again so I went back to the lake... This time there was a cold wind so I parked my SUV facing into the wind and gave myself a decent wind break under the rear hatch door. Suited up and got in another nice dive before coming back out to rain, wind, and colder temps. Yikes it was cold. I had my windbreak and my buddy heater though and it really wasn't bad. BUT, I figure under these conditions two dives were enough for Friday. I went into town and got some cheese, pickled herring, and crackers for dinner back at the motel. Fortunately I was able to dry the suits in front of the room heater.
- Saturday was 31 degrees, windy, and cloudy but no rain. A corned beef hash and eggs kind of morning. When I got to Fortune, there were 8 tech divers taking up the paved parking lot so I parked kind of in the woods and into the wind on the unpaved lot. This worked out well. The tech guys were just entering the water as I suited up. I scootered over to the grim reaper and then headed toward the shore to surface and see what landmark I might find. It was kind of non-descript location halfway to the other side of the pond. So I just went back down and scootered back to the car. The wind break and heater helped but this time it was kind of a race to get the heck out of the wet suit and into dry clothes. The tech divers were packing up to leave.
- As I sat in the car warming up, The weather was getting worse... Some snow in the air, windy and 35 degrees. I figured I better do my next dive now or I would not get another chance. So, I suited up and went in for another scooter dive. This one was totally fun, I took the scooter down to the road on the right and zig zagged my way from 100 feet up to 30 feet flying around the rubble and cliffs at the underwater road's edge. I did my 3 minute safety stop on the way back so that I could just get out of the water and race to get out of my wet gear. By this time, the weather was in heavy snow flurries, wind blowing cold... It was time (probably well past time) for me to call it a day.
- Saturday night I went out for Prime Rib and contemplated some basic truths:
1. Fortune Pond underwater is always the same. Great visibility and cold water. You are usually diving in water that is at or close to the same temperature as Ice Diving. So there's no point in worrying about the water temp no matter what time of year you dive. It's always fun!
2. Solo diving in crystal clear water, where you are familiar with the location, is just as fun as solo diving with a bunch of friends topside.
3. "Managing" cold weather and cold water are the keys to enjoying Fortune Pond. I used to stay in the water for 40 minutes and then leave the bottoms of my wet suit on... I would get severely chilled. Now, I try to limit my cold water dive time to 30 minutes and then get completely out of the wet suit and into dry clothes. I did not get any of the shaking hypothermia I've experienced in the past and this was the coldest weather yet.
- I'll try and pull some of the Go-Pro shots I got diving and on the surface... I'll post them here.