Technology Hiker

Stupid vs. Wild (My Outdoor Fails): Dropping iPhone in Lake Tahoe

Man vs. Wild & Running Wild are two favorite family shows. Usually Bear Grylls successfully solves outdoor challenges. Bear Grylls episodes & most outdoor content do not highlight outdoor fails. I’m starting this new series called Stupid vs. Wild that highlights my (many) outdoor fails. Hopefully, these outdoor fails make readers chuckle & help avoid similar mishaps.

I dropped my iPhone in Lake Tahoe in ten feet of water

Dropped Phone at the End of this Dock

I woke up early on a February morning to 1) watch the sunrise from a dock and 2) take a snowy trailrun in South Lake Tahoe. I wore gloves and a jacket to ward against the 22 degree weather, but I could not operate my iPhone with gloves. To take my gloves off, I placed my phone on a railing. Like a bad cartoon in slow motion, I watched the phone slip off the railing, hit the dock, and slide off the dock into the water.

My phone was waterproof or at least water resistant! I could still see the screen shine below 10 feet of water. I started at my phone for a bit trying to figure out what to do. The lake was not frozen but very cold. I later learned the water was 40 degrees.

Here’s my plan. I did not want to jump into frigid water where I could not wade back to shore. I walked to shallower water and removed multiple layers. Fortunately, all of my base layers were wool so they would stay warm when wet. Thank you Woolx! I waded into Lake Tahoe and started swimming toward the end of the dock. The water temperature was bearable. I dove and the shining screen helped me pick up the phone on my first try. I held my phone above water and headed back to shore. My phone still worked! My polar bear plunge seemed to work.

I put my outer layers back on and dripped back to my car. Once I could feel my fingers again, I drove home. By the time I arrived at home, my screen shorted out.

Stupid vs. Wild Lessons

  • Do not drop your phone in water. Secure your phone in your pocket or bag when not using.
  • If your phone touches water, turn off immediately. Place phone in rice to absorb moisture. Only turn on the phone at least 48 hours afterwards to enable drying.
  • Back-up your phone frequently.