Matt and I arrived in Arizona today for the first big swim of the year. We’ve spent the last few days relaxing in Laguna Beach – so we are ready for an adventure. Unfortunately, my training has been a bit lacking for the last few months as there has been lots of lawyering going on and not much swimming. So we are heading into this adventure with an eye towards having fun, seeing many old friends and making many new ones!
So…what is SCAR…
The S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge is a 4-day stage swim in Arizona in the Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Lake. At a total cumulative distance of 41.7 miles (66.9 km), it is one of the longest marathon swims in the world. S.C.A.R. stands for Saguaro, Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt lakes.
Saguaro Lake: The first reservoir is Saguaro Lake, a 9.5-mile (15.2 km) swim at 1529-feet (466m) elevation, which is rimmed with canyon walls. It is within the Superstition Wilderness of the Tonto National Forest. It was formed by the Stewart Mountain Dam, a concrete thin arch dam located 41 miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. The swim begins at the east end of Saguaro Lake – the base of Mormon Flat Dam below the Mormon Flat Heliport. The swim ends at the buoy line guarding the Stewart Mountain dam.
Canyon Lake: The second reservoir in the swim challenge is Canyon Lake, elevation at 1,660 feet (505m), formed by the Mormon Flat Dam. The dam is 380 feet long, 224 feet high and was built between 1923-25. The dam is named after nearby Mormon Flat, a place where settlers from Utah stopped to camp. Canyon Lake, with a surface area of 950 acres (380 ha), is the smallest of four lakes created along the Salt River. It is within the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest and is a popular recreation area. Wildlife in the area includes big horn sheep, deer and javelina that roam freely in this area of the national forest area. The swim begins at the buoy line below Horse Mesa dam and ends 9 miles (14.4 km) at the buoy line protecting the Mormon Flat dam.
Apache Lake: The third reservoir is beautifully isolated Apache Lake. Apache Lake was formed by Horse Mesa Dam which was completed in 1927. The second largest of the four Salt River Project reservoirs (Theodore Roosevelt Lake is the largest) and by far the most difficult swim if the wind picks up. The swim begins at the eastern end of the lake at the buoy line below Roosevelt dam and continues for approximately 17 miles (27.3 km) to the the Horse Mesa Dam. The lake separates the Four Peaks Wilderness from the Superstition Wilderness and is considered fairly remote (dirt road access). The picturesque canyon is framed by the Mazatzal Mountains and Superstition Mountains.
Roosevelt Lake: The last reservoir in the Arizona S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge is Roosevelt Lake. Unlike the previous swims, this lake has only one dam so to make it interesting, there is a 10 km night swim that begins at a very small boat dock approximately 5 miles east of the marina and finishes under the stars and moon at the Roosevelt Dam. Both the reservoir and the masonry dam that created it, Roosevelt Dam, were named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt who dedicated the dam himself in March 1911, one year prior to Arizona being recognized as the 48th state in the union.
Tomorrow is Saguaro. Matt will be kayaking for me (a new adventure for him). We will start swimming around 9:00 a.m. PDT. I will be blogging about the swims throughout the week.
We had a great group dinner tonight. Many thanks to Kent Nicholas for everything he has done to organize this swim! Off to bed.