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CRANE FALLS LAKE - MOUNTAIN HOME, IDAHO

Google Earth: N 4257'55", W 11550'36"

Date of Dive(s): 24-MAR-2007
Location: 5 Miles due South of M.H.A.F.B., South side of River
Elevation: 2457 feet ASL
Air Temperature: Sunny
Water Temperature: 50F
Max Depth: 25 feet
Visibility (max): 15-20 feet
Divers: Dave Washburn, Kathy Washburn, Malinda Washburn and Daniel Braegger
Surface support: Jody Hull

24-MAR-2007

It couldn't have been a better day for it: bright sunshine, no wind, and nice clear water. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it; we've recently learned that I'm diabetic, and I woke up feeling like something no self-respecting cat would bother to drag in. But my wife the nurse can work miracles, and by the time we got out there I was feeling good. That was a definite cause for thankfulness, because I REALLY wanted to dive this lake!

Kathy, Malinda, our new friend Daniel Braegger and I entered the water from the boat dock around 2:30. The water temp was fairly consistent around 50 degrees, which was a nice treat after Quinn's Pond's 45 degrees last week! We had to swim out a long way, because most of the lake is less than 10 feet deep and covered with heavy seaweed that comes almost to the surface. That caused a bit of a problem, because Malinda has a really bad phobia about seaweed wrapping around her feet when she's in the water. By the time we had gone about 50 yards, she was having a full-blown panic attack. I felt bad, because I knew about that phobia of hers and just plain forgot until it was too late. Anyway, I managed to get with her and take her through the worst of it, and like the tough kid she is, she managed to push through it until we got to open water. At one point she spotted a group of tiny fish, and the refocus helped her settle down. Once we got clear of the heavy seaweed and dropped below the surface, she was fine. I was really glad, because she loves to dive and I would have hated for her to have to turn back.

The bottom was mostly thick silt, with occasional clumps of weed and lots of dead sticks, which we learned later were the remains of burned-off sagebrush. We came across a few small fish, but nothing resembling the trophy bass that folks are known to catch there. Mostly it was silt and vegetation, so we spent the bulk of the dive playing with buoyancy and our compasses and generally having a great time "looking at stuff," to use my lovely wife's favorite expression.

We surfaced for a while when a couple of us got cold hands. Kathy and Malinda started back toward the dock on the surface while Dan and I hung around chatting, then we dropped down again and started to follow their general direction. We learned later that they only stayed on the surface for a few minutes, then dropped down again because the swimming was easier. By the time we caught up with them, we were all near the shallows again. This time Malinda kept her regulator in and her head in the water, so she could see what was down there. She had no more trouble for the rest of the day.

Dan's family was there, and his wife was a great help to us all, getting our gear on and off. The little ones were getting antsy (who can blame them?) so they left shortly after we finished that dive. My girls and I hung around a while longer, deciding whether to do a second dive or not. The deepest spot we had found was 25 feet, so we didn't need massive off-gassing or anything like that. Malinda didn't want to go, so Kathy and I did a second dive, going a different direction across the lake. We didn't find any real depth this way, only one spot close to 20 feet, but we found a fair bit of open ground, and this way was littered with tiny snail-type shells in varying states of disrepair. I managed to find one complete one to bring back to Malinda, but had to carry it with great care. The first couple I tried to pick up crumbled in my fingers, but I was able to hold on to this one. Kathy did the navigating, and I learned very quickly that I was in the best of hands. She's amazing with that compass. I'm pretty good, but she's better. She found a good-size lure with the hook broken off, and I came upon some kind of thing that reminded me of one of the face-sucking things from the movie "Alien." I thought I got a good picture of it, but apparently my camera's battery gave out just about that time. By the time I got to the surface the thing was falling apart so I let it go, which means I don't have a good record of it at all. Oh well... Because of the lack of depth and all the seaweed, we spent about 2/3 of this dive at 3 feet depth or less. It was really fun.

One thing I already knew about Dan: he's said before that every place he dives, he finds a golf ball. Well, at Crane Falls Lake, he found it even before we got in the water, because it was in about 8 inches of water a few feet from the dock. It was quite amusing. Then, about 5 minutes before we finally ended the second dive, in about 4 feet of water, Kathy and I came across - guess what? Yup, a golf ball. I told her we are now officially members in good standing of Desert Divers!

This was a nifty place to dive, even though there wasn't that much to see. It's a good spot for a checkout dive, or to practice navigation, or just to wander around and have fun. There's not much depth, and the bottom tends to rise and fall a lot, but visibility was about 15-20 feet and the temperature is nice and comfy in your basic wetsuit. And if you go with some great people like Daniel and his wife, it's well worth the trip.

We did have one casualty, and it's still a mystery: somehow, during the trip back, our dive computer vanished. We have no idea how it could have gotten out of the car, but when all was unpacked and put away, it was nowhere to be found. That really stinks, but not enough to detract from the enjoyable day we had with a new location and new friends.

UPDATE:I'm happy to report that the wayward computer has been found. Yesterday evening we were gathering our minimal gear to go swimming at the Y, and I discovered it inside one of my fins, of all places. Apparently it's a lot like those big fish at the lake and likes to hide...

Submitted by Dave Washburn



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