“We enjoyed peaceful minutes of drifting, too, with the bottom brown mud, just a few round white rocks dotted about, and the banks grassy, cedars leaning over the water, and white-collared birds darting close to our heads. Then for three hundred yards the river would turn feisty, roaring, tergiversating, as busy as rush hour, each rock having its say. We twisted through new rips and rapids, eluding sweepers, seeing the trout jump, and dragonflies in a mating clinch; jays called in the trees. The clouds were lovely, if we took time to glance upward. There were still-water sloughs, and gulls on the mud-banks, and parakeet cries from the bear-jungle. Then a swift chute, dark choppy water, on into a wide, luxurious pool. Buzzing birds in the woods, occasional pines, more shaggy cedar, big pairs of spruce, a heron flying high with folded neck, a gangly flying loon, some green grassy islands. A winter wren sang. Then again the water crawled with ripples, with stream birds flying up, the water slanting alive with bubbles over a gravel bar.
It became a still, rainy day with some occasional neighborly thunder. We ran by a few gentle rapids and shoals, seeing huge waterlogged stumps that were shaped like moose. The river here was a dream -- rustling, windy, wild-looking and lush -- chipper with birds, overhung with sweepers, dense with low channels forking between the islands. It was beautiful and remote.”
-- Edward Hoagland, Walking the Dead Diamond River (Warner Books, 1974).
* * * * *
June’s arrival marks the start of the summer swimming season, meaning we’ll have some more wonderful ways to refresh ourselves on hikes in the coming months.
Our first “official” swimming hike is in Black Rock Forest, which we’ll be visiting on 6/9, where we’ll have a swimming option at beautiful Sutherland Pond.
This won’t be the first time this year when we’ve had people cool themselves in mountain waters. We’ve already had quite a few hikers wade into streams or lakes on spring trips.
And on last weekend’s wilderness camping trip in northern VA’s Shenandoah National Park, on two different days we had members of the group wade in, sit down, and/or happily splash around in cold-water streams next to lovely waterfalls.
Most of our summer hikes feature lakes or ponds where swimming is possible, or streams or rivers that offer a wading option. Anyone who prefers to stay on dry ground and relax while others take a swim break are more than welcome to do so.
If you think you might be inclined to get into the water, bring a swimsuit along anytime you hike with us this summer. An alternative would be to enter a lake or stream in your shorts and T-shirt, which should dry quickly on a warm sunny day.
Some people worry about hot weather (which is pretty rare in the higher-elevation mountain areas where we hike), but there’s no doubt that summer hiking offers some truly delectable pleasures -- not the least of which is being able to immerse ourselves in cool, sense-stimulating, health-enhancing, and ultra-refreshing mountain water!
-- Charlie Cook