Time to cool off in a mountain lake

Ahh, this Wyoming weather. Freezing cold one day, blazing hot the next. Those hot days make me think the high-altitude lake-dipping season is nearly upon us.

If you venture into the hills to do some fishing but find the heat is pushing the fish to the bottom of the lake, you might want to beat the heat by joining the denizens of the deep. Quite a few of the state’s high-country lakes are private enough to allow you to strip down to your skivvies and take a quick dip in the water. High-altitude lake-dipping is an activity with a very small window of opportunity. There are only a few months of the year (or a few days or hours, depending on the lake’s altitude) when it’s possible.

The duration of a lake dip is inversely proportional to the altitude at which the lake resides. My first lake-dip was the shortest I’ve taken, as well as the one at the highest elevation.

But it was even shorter for my uncle Rod. My dad, my uncle and I had been bowhunting for a week, and we were all getting a bit ripe. Dad and I stood in our shorts in Waterdog Lake up to our shins and splashed water on the more aromatic parts of our anatomies. We soaped up and rinsed off as quickly as possible, but the speed of our ablutions was nothing compared to uncle Rod’s.

Rod burst out of the willows just as Dad and I were finishing our washing. He ran naked as the day he was born toward the water, hollering a war whoop in his deep, Johnny Cash voice. At the water’s edge, he leapt high into the air and far out over the water, curled himself into a cannonball and plunged into the frigid lake.

His cry hadn’t finished echoing off the cliff to the north when Rod popped back out of the water. Not just his head, not just his upper body, but all of him rocketed back into the air. His Johnny Cash war-whoop had turned to a Michael Jackson shriek.

Unfortunately, Rod’s bath didn’t do much to alleviate his odor. Even though he had soaped up before his plunge, the work of the water was negated by the sweat generated by 12 straight hours of shivering.

The next couple of months should be more conducive to high-altitude lake-dips than my first experience was. If you decide to give it a try, do it before the hunting season rolls around.