It’s midsummer, it’s hot, the rivers aren’t roaring as they were in May. Maybe they are too low and slow for kayaking. So what is there to do? Go swimmin’ of course. Now is the time to jump in some moving water and cool off. And for all of you who wanted to practice rough water swimming, do it now, while the water is inviting.
Like me, if you are a water person first and foremost and a paddler second, then meander on down to your local creek or river and take a dip. We live in southern Oregon, where creeks and rivers abound. Less than a hundred miles from us in all directions we have rivers galore: the world famous Rogue River, and the Umpqua, the Applegate, the Illinois, the Smith, Chetco, Klamath, and upper Sacramento River. Numerous beautiful and swimmable creeks empty into these wild and scenic rivers. And the volcanic water of Crater Lake is just up the road.
I grew up in northern California and every summer my brothers Marc and John, sister Camille, and I would go swimming and boating in cool water under a sizzling sun. Then I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 25 years, where summer on the beach in Half Moon Bay often felt like winter, what with the wind and fog. To get a true feel for summer, I was forced to drive a long ways for a cool swim. But it was worth it. I discovered many fine swimming holes in California (the American, Tuolumne, Tule, Kern, and Yuba rivers) and all over the West.
Since I retired from my job three years ago and moved up to Oregon, it has been a snap to get to an inviting waterhole and take the plunge. In the past couple of years, we have explored the upper Umpqua River and its tributaries. We’ve swum in and rafted down the Rogue. We even took a dip in cold Crater Lake, which features exquisitely clear and gorgeous water.
So far this summer, my wife Nancy and I paddled down the Rogue in inflatable kayaks and swam in the Illinois River, which has more delightful swimming holes per mile than just about any place I’ve ever seen. In a few days, we’ll make our annual pilgrimage to the upper Sacramento River and camp out for a week or more and soak up the dry summer heat, swim like otters in the river’s soothing and sparkling water, enjoy the glorious views of Mount Shasta and Castle Crags, listen to the breeze rustle through the pines, and luxuriate in the shade as we savor the sweet scent of willow and cottonwood sap emanating in the afternoon soon. To us, this is heaven.
Next summer we will explore the mysterious Chetco River in the land of Big Foot, which really intrigues me. And then of course there is the pristine Smith River to check out. Well, I’d like to keep writing, but the Sacramento River is calling. I have to pack up my things and go swimmin’.
Please share your feelings about swimming in your favorite rivers and creeks. Got a good swimmin’ hole story to share? Just comment directly below this post. And remember, “It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’…”
NOTE TO READERS: as of August 1st, my birthday, I’m taking a week off to enjoy the river. So enjoy this post and all the others. If you scroll up, you’ll see other categories of posts I have done. Feel free to read anything of interest. Enjoy!