Friday, July 21, 2006

Utah: Lake Breathes Salty

Your body may be gone, I'm gonna carry you in.
In my head, in my heart, in my soul.
And maybe we'll get lucky and we'll both live again.
Well I don't know. I don't know. I don't think so.


And the ocean breathes salty, won't you carry it in?
In your head, in your mouth, in your soul.
And maybe we'll get lucky and we'll both grow old.
Well I don't know. I don't know. I hope so.

(Modest Mouse, "Ocean Breathes Salty")

As performed by Sun Kil Moon on their CD Tiny Cities, this is one of the best songs about loss and mourning.

The Great Salt Lake also breathes salty, or, to put it less nicely, smells unpleasantly brackish. It is also extremely shallow--I had to wade about 250 yards into it to get the water to mid-shin.

I entered the lake from a beach at Antelope Island, which is basically the summit of a mountain that is surrounded by the lake. Swimming in the lake is pretty nifty, if you can get over the smell. Because of the salt content, you float much more easily than you do in fresh water. Also, the views are magnificent--you are surrounded by gorgeous mountains.

However... getting into the lake is the ordeal. The ground between the road and the water was designed in HELL, especially for someone like Fosco who is used to smooth, sandy, clean beaches. Foolishly, Fosco left his sandals in the car and decided to try to walk to the water barefoot. This is what he encountered, in order:

  • A band of soft golden sand, long enough to lull him into complacency (and to make going back to the car for shoes seem like too much of a hike).
  • An area of golf-ball-sized stones buried in sand. A bit awkward to walk through, but not too bad yet.
  • A ring of shards of those golf-ball-sized stones buried in the sand. These were sharp and quite painful.
  • Wet, hard-packed sand--enough to make Fosco think the pain is over.
  • A hard, salty crust on top of sand. With each step, the crust breaks into pointy fragments to attack the feet. Incidentally, in this zone, there are numerous footprints in sandals--Fosco now begins to feel stupid.
  • A thick brown carpet of decaying brine shrip. At this point, even something this disgusting is a welcome relief from the foot pain..
  • A swirling haze of brine flies. They circle Fosco in a cyclone about three feet in diameter. The sound is unnerving (have you ever been swarmed by anything?).
  • An ankle-deep pool of water--a relief once again.
  • A breakwater, before the lake gets deeper. Composed of softball-sized rocks, many of them sharp, some of them slippery. This part was the most unpleasant of all.

Once you make it into the water, you don't want to leave--primarily because you know all of the tortures that await between you and the car.

Fosco's Advice: BE-SHOE YOURSELF!

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