12 September 2013

Rocky Mountain Sailing: Utah's Trial Lake

Trial Lake, Utah.  A Sailing Destination 10,000 feet in the air.
These waters beg to be sailed.  At 10,000 feet above sea level, the clouds skim across the top of your mast, filling the lake beneath you with cool, clear rain.  Eagles fill their wings with the wind that spills from your sails.  Deer wander curiously along the shore, drinking the water from under your keel.  Trout swim playfully in the tiny eddies trailing your rudder.  Nature is so big here that you can't become one with it, it's just too enormous
A large submerged rock near the shore serves as a makeshift dock.  (Either that, or I am actually walking on water.)
We come here once a year and spend a week camping along the lake.  There is no boat ramp here, so we wheel our little 14 foot Lido down to the water's edge and launch her by hand.  The Lido weighs 300 pounds, so I use a small trailer dolly that connects to the boat trailer's hitch to walk it around on shore and lower and retrieve it from the water.  

With no docks, we launch the boat by walking it out into the water until we find a submerged rock to serve as a makeshift dock for launching.  Everyone climbs on, and the last person aboard shoves us out into the lake, where we drift for a moment until the water is a little deeper.  Then we lower the keel, raise the sails, and GO!
Lido 14, Waiting impatiently on the shore of Trial Lake
 Although there are smaller, lighter day sailers out there, I prefer the Lido for these high mountain lakes.  It has a roomy cockpit that seats 6 kids if the winds are light, or fewer when the winds pick up.  The boat has enough freeboard to keep the water out, which is important when the water is only 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celsius)
"Abandon Ship!"  The crew jumps into Trial Lake
Of course, 45F (7C) water doesn't keep the kids from swimming.  The high mountain sun is so intense, an 80 F degree (27 Celsius) afternoon sun feels like 95 F degrees (35 C), and it isn't long after lunch before the kids are jumping from the boat and swimming along the shore.
Um, it's reflection of the sail in my hair that makes it look like I have a bald spot.
 When we're done sailing for the day, we raise the keel, swing the rudder up, and lash the sails to the boom.  We pull the Lido up on the beach, and walk over the to campfire for dinner and a fantastic display of stars under the blackest skies on earth.  Hearty pioneers built up the south end of Trial Lake to serve as a natural reservoir, which is still in use today.  During late summer, the lake is drained a couple inches each day, so each morning we find the boat a little higher on the beach than where we left it the night before.
The wind picks up in the late morning and runs until dusk, but it is shifty.  The fun in sailing these lakes is the challenge of attentive sail trim.  When the breeze is up, the boat will heel over and scoot a mile across the lake in a few minutes.  The Lido is perfect during the lighter winds too, its light weight can turn even the softest breezes into a great afternoon of sailing.  

The reason the most beautiful lakes are harder to reach is that someone wanted to keep them a little closer to heaven.  Lakes like these were meant to be sailed.