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Gilbert Lodge
Since 2004



                 Gilbert Lodge Blog
         The life and times of Mark and Paula Persons

March 29, 2009:  Paula was at the Minnesota School of Diving to do an "ice dive."  She started with four hours of classroom instruction two days earlier and did two SCUBA dives under the ice the day before.  Today was the last day of the class.  The man behind the counter is Todd Matthies, Owner of the shop.         The frozen Minnesota lake chosen for this ice dive was an abandoned open-pit iron mine that is now managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  This one is named Portsmouth. 

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The crew used a chainsaw the day before to remove one-foot-thick ice.  Because there was a danger that snowmobilers might fall in overnight, the crew had covered it up and then removed the ice once more to dive that day.    (l-r) Dan and Mike, the fearless divers were there too.  The air temperature was 32 degrees and the water under the ice was 38 degrees.  NO PROBLEM!! 

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Ice diving is well planned.  A 200 foot diameter circle is shoveled on the ice and arrows are cleared as well.  The idea is that if a diver needs to find the way back to the center, he or she just needs to look up.      Those with wet-suits were glad to have hot water poured inside their suits before going down in the frigid water. 

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It is "fins-up and heading down" for one of the divers.  All through this day, we could hear ice cracking on the lake.  The sounds could be heard once every minute or so. The cracks rarely get larger than one-quarter inch in width.        The diving entrance is triangular because one instructor and two students descend at the same time.  This is a team effort.  There are "tenders" who watch after the dive lifeline connected to each diver.  One tug means I am OK, two tugs means I want more rope.  Three tugs means too much rope.  Four tugs means get me out of here NOW! 

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Frogman Frogwoman Paula is suited up and ready to go.      Down she goes into the icy water to a depth of about 50 feet.  Ah, we have hearty souls in Minnesota.

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After 20 minutes, she is hauled back up and shows a thumbs-up.  After that, it was back home for a hot shower and a glass of wine in front of a warm fireplace to celebrate.       Here he is, Bill Matthies, the man who started the Minnesota School of Diving in Brainerd, MN, many years ago.  Bill wrote a book about his experiences.  It is One Earth, Two Worlds available through the online store at http://www.mndiving.com

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Reader Comments: 
I think we liked the wine in front of the warm fireplace best!!!  YOU are a SPORT!!!!!!!!  Thanks for sharing this.  We love following your adventures!  Jerry and Cathy in Lake San Marcos, CA.

Looks like fun!  I like the wine in front of the fireplace best!  Dave in Brainerd, MN.

Hi Paula, I took a look at the ice diving pictures that Mark posted.  Congratulations on getting your ice diving card!  I wish I could have been there.  Leslie from Little Canada, MN. 

Questions, Comments?  

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page last edited 04/10/2009