Monkey Valley beach

An August day at Monkey Valley

Gone swimmingPart 1

I thought the other day was hot. But yesterday was even hotter—it was 43° C in the afternoon (108° F)! Too hot even for Lizard Woman, and I decided to brave the icy waters of the creek.

The challenge was to find a place to swim in. In addition to being unreasonably cold, the creek is very silty in most places, making the bottom mucky and—as my sister Kim found out one summer (to my great amusement)—sometimes as treacherous as quicksand. But that’s another story… And the places where the bottom is rocky, sandy, or pebbly, the water is usually swift-running and shallow—too shallow to swim in.

First I headed for the “beach” Kim and I created the first summer at Monkey Valley, rolling sandbags down the hill to a spot on the creek right below the house. But that was seven summers ago, and the sandy spot is now overgrown with tall grass. And also, while the creek used to be nice and deep right there, it has filled in with silt. So the hunt was on.

I decided I would try to find a nice deep spot North end of creek near fordat the north end of the valley, near the ford. The water is fast-flowing there, and maybe there would be some solid creek bottom. I left a note on the table, in case I should die before I returned, so my family would know where to find my body: “Gone swimming in creek (near ford).” Since this was turning into more than the quick dip I had planned, I put on some sturdy hiking shoes and blue jeans, grabbed a towel, and headed north, up the dirt road to the place where it fords the creek.

I found that I could cross the creek on the fallen down fence, and did this for fun, coming back on the rock path I had made. The creek was only a few inches deep at this low end of summer, so I headed south, following the creek along the edges, noticing I was walking in a recent path made by the cows grazing at this end of the valley. I saw a few spots that were about two feet deep, created by the waters rushing around bends in the creek, but these spots weren’t really the swimming hole I was looking for. Soon I came to the log my friend Dorrie had used to cross the creek a few weeks ago. Beside it was the spot where I had fallen in while trying to jump across! I remembered that it hadn’t really been that cold, and decided to just walk along the creek itself for a ways.

And so I went, walking in the water up to knee deep, crawling over logs and climbing up the hillside when the creek became too silty to walk in. I marvelled at how there always seemed to be deer trails to follow up the hill when the land forced me that way. This evidence is as good as any that there is a logic in the unfolding of reality! The mosquitoes I had been anticipating decided to join me, and I wrapped the towel around myself for protection. I kept pushing south, still hoping for the magical swimming place I was looking for, but hurrying ever onward to avoid the mosquitoes. After a while the creek widened out a lot, into a big marshy section. I climbed onto higher ground and just about decided to give up and head back to the house. But then something special happened… (to be continued)