I love hiking to take in nature and see great views, but also part of why I love a good long hike is getting sweaty, burning calories, and feeling like I used my body. While the burn is it’s own reward, I also love rewarding myself after, and nothing beats a cold, refreshing dip in a natural swimming hole after a hot and sticky hike.
I remember fondly one of my favorite swimming holes. This was on a solo hike years before Cindy and I met. It was in the Catskills Mountains and the hills were green and lush. The vibrancy of the landscape reminded me of my grandmother’s yard growing up. She would always brag about how her friend’s son owned the best lawn care services Birmingham AL had to offer. She spent most of her time in her yard, either moving her yard decorations around or talking to her flowers and bushes. The grass was so thick and green and soft. Thinking back on it now that I am older, I’m pretty sure my grandmother had something to do with instilling in me my love for the outdoors.
The Catskills, although not too far from New York city, offer an amazing outdoor experience, that feels much further from the city than it actually is. The hiking was fun, but arduous. I hiked over 10 miles through dips and rises in elevation. Rocks are abound and required serious scrambling to continue down the path. On top of the hard leg work, the sun was beating down hard and it was getting hot. I reached a lovely lake and was excited to check it out. Unfortunately, there was a little too much pond scum for my tastes and it didn’t look very inviting. Defeated, I continued on my journey. I decided to climb a hill, seeking relief from the wind. While the breeze was nice it didn’t quite satisfy my need for a cool down. It was then that I heard the familiar rippling, the washing and patter of water! I knew there was a stream near by.
I followed my ears and hiked further, and the patter turned into the sounds of heavy falls. I turned a bend to reach the most picturesque waterfall flowing into a deep blue pond. It looked heavenly and I went to test the waters. It was freezing. Probably the coldest water I would ever swim in. I decided it was worth the plunge, to just go for it. I undressed and dove in and the deep coldness penetrated my bones, took my breath away, and made me forget about ever being hot in the first place. I could not wade in the water for too long, because it was really that cold, but did it ever satisfy the cold refreshment I was looking for. I got dressed and continued on my hike to build my campsite. I have built many campsites since then, and have found other swimming holes, but that cold plunge left an impression on me. It was a dip I doubt I will ever forget.