Written by The Adventurer
Sunday Football has come to a close. Winter doldrums setting in.
Not. Can’t happen. Won’t happen.
What do the great outdoors of Greater Charlotte and the regional Carolinas have to offer? What can the true adventurer at heart do with himself and brag about it at the nine to fiver the next day? What can the adventurer accomplish that few men have gone before? What few have done. What few have seen.
More importantly, what can the adventurer do to avoid adding poundage on the couch?
Scuba Diving. Wait. It’s wintertime. It’s cold out. First major snow accumulation of the area for the year. Where can you undertake such a thing? Isn’t that a warm water gig? Sure. It can be. Maybe it should be.
And considering the cold…where can you go in such a landlocked area anywho??
Get to that in a bit.
Adventure is craved. Can’t help it. Going.
May be this time I will finally spot my first Paddlefish, an endangered, prehistoric-looking specimen that is a technical cousin to the shark. How many M-F 9-5’ers can boast they’ve spotted one of those in their natural habitat? In their lifetime?
May be the infamous pirate Edward Teach, notoriously known as Blackbeard, ventured inland from the North Carolina Coast one day in order to find that ultimate X marks the spot for his legendary long sought after treasure. One step ahead of the competition of the day. Far fetched indeed. But if valuables are to be discovered, who has a better shot? The adventurer or the couch potato chip?
Going. The mission: A paddle fish or treasure. The latter can take several different shapes and forms. One man’s treasure is a……yea, yea, yea.
Driving home when the snowstorm late Saturday afternoon, witnessing other vehicles barely maintaining their traction on the road. I knew maintaining warmth would be key to my comfort level on Sunday. So when I got home I took my Dry Suit out of the garage and set it next to the heater for the overnight.
By 10 am Sunday morning, my car was packed with my scuba gear: Tanks, masks, regulator, fins, underwater flashlights, thermal long underwear…and yes, a room temperature preserved dry suit.
On the one hour drive to Lake Norman Quarry, I conversed with the Charlotte Banter Chairman of the Board on the scope of my Sunday mission. Mission confirmed. Mission accepted.
By 11 am EST, I had reached the gates of my destination. Remnants of snow on the ground. Sunlight beating down on the water’s surface. The time had come. Air temperature couldn’t have been more than 30 degrees at the time.
My fellow soldier of fortune had beaten me there. He had been performing several modifications to his new dry suit and was anxious to satisfy personal comfort levels and needed a partner in crime to accompany him on the mission.
Lake Norman Quarry administrators refurbished an old tool shed into a place where divers can don their gear next to a portable heater, allowing us to retain as much body heat as possible. Which is good, trust me.
By noon, we had entered the water. Today’s mission was to hug the outer parameter of this former operational rock quarry, now a spring fed lake of 29 acres adjacent to Lake Norman in Mooresville, NC (Exit 36 off I77), where maximum depths reach nearly 100 feet. If I’m lucky, a sighting of the ever elusive paddlefish. The lake holds approximately 5, I believe. If I’m luckier yet, the X marks the spot.
Some divers that frequent Lake Norman Quarry enjoy the many underwater sunken attractions such as a school bus, several boats (including one that lies vertically upright), a skidoo, old cars, the frame of a Cessna aircraft, and many newly added items each year. The Charlotte Banter adventurer and his partner in crime prefer the natural wall and all of the crevices and mini caves it possesses. If Blackbeard were ever here, wouldn’t that be the perfect spot? Right?
One of the rewards of scuba diving is being the first to see what is around every corner. While I have conducted this same dive hundreds of times, the variances in visibility will allow you to see some things in new form almost every time: A tree growing out of the wall, rock formations in its entirety whereas the last time I saw maybe only a portion of it. One moment we are swimming amongst a rising underwater land plateau, the next, we are descending alongside a straight wall where the quarry foreman stood watch. And that is the gist of it, what is around every corner? A bigger rock structure? A new tree? Paddlefish? Treasure? The adventurer seeks it out! 70% of the world’s surface is covered in water after all. Why just stare at it from the surface?
Three weeks ago the visibility was operating at a low. Less than 5 feet. Today we enjoyed over 20 feet in some areas. We were flying in space. Water temperature hovered around 44-48 degrees. Hey…it was warmer than the air.
The wall parameter was covered in an hour’s time. We ascended to the surface close to our main entry point. A satisfying dive.
Paddlefish sighting? No. Pirate’s treasure? No. But the diver shall return. Another day. Another adventure. That is what we do.
For those in the greater Queen City seeking such new adventures, there are several Scuba Diving shops offering lessons for certifications, as well as providing sales and service of equipment and travel opportunities: Diver’s Supply Charlotte; Lake Norman Scuba ; Open Water Adventures; and Paradise Divers.
Stay tune for the next outdoor Carolina adventure piece only on Charlotte Banter.