Thursday, July 02, 2009

A study in contrasts

In the past week, P-Doug and I have been back twice to a nice place on the Humber we had kind of forgotten about since last summer. Even though only three days separated the two visits, the difference in conditions was astounding.

Saturday we arrived around noon. The river was shallower than it had been the previous time I'd visited (a couple of weekends earlier, by myself), and the riverbed was clear and visible. When we stepped in and wandered down the river to our bathing spot, it barely even wet the hems of my shorts. When we arrived, we undressed and sat under the overhanging shade tree. The day was hot and humid, the water was quite warm for this early in the summer, and the sun was blazing. Even in the shade, you could feel its might.

A couple of summers ago, we had gone nude hiking into the hills there. That side of the river is on a large isthmus that is very nearly an island, and will be soon, I think. P-Doug wasn't game for it this time, fearing the bugs, but I set off on my own and climbed the hill, made my way down the far side, and crossed the river. A climbed the far bank and sat for a while on a bleached white log left in the grass by some long-ago flood, and watched the river. After I bit I crossed back over to the isthmus side and settled back in the grass to lie in the sun. Eventually I made my way back up into the forest and down to where he was still enjoying the water. The bugs had never bothered me. We both got a bit of a burn that day, though; his worse than mine because I spent about an hour of it in the forest.

Wednesday was Canada Day so we decided to go back. It was overcast and only warm, rather than hot. When we got to the river, it was the colour of hot chocolate, and obviously far deeper, even to look at. It had rained quite a bit in the previous two days and we had to undress before even stepping in. The current was surprisingly fast, and it was deeper than we'd even guessed, not to mention somewhat cooler. I was still wearing my shirt and eventually even the bottom of that was soaked. By the time we got to our usual spot and I could take it off, we were at parts that were armpit deep. I've never seen the river as deep as that at that spot. It was anytime we turned to work against the current that we realized just how strong it was; it was hard even to take a step against it. I decided to be prudent with my backpack and put it on road side of the river rather than the isthmus side so I wouldn't have to carry it back across. We spotted a flat, muddy landing on the isthmus side and struggled to reach it, and ended up spending most of our time there, half in and half out of the river. There was really no place shallow enough to actually sit down in the river itself this time. We spent some time there before fighting our way back to the road side where our clothes and food were, and ate sandwiches and oranges on the grassy side of the bank. We sat briefly under the tarp I carry on hikes when it started raining, just enough to give the day another interesting detail.

Eventually we decided to drift off. I prevailed upon P-Doug not to attempt wading back to the initial landing against the current on this day, but suggested instead climbing the steep valley wall behind us back to the old road. He was eventually persuaded, and I spotted what looked like a deer trail and made my way towards it. He gathered his things and followed, and ended up doing a few minutes of nude hiking in spite of things. When we reached the top, we dressed, checked out the trail a bit, and headed back. It was the nicest way to spend Canada Day and really celebrate the great outdoors of this country that I could think of. :)


Wolfmaan said...

Sounds like a cool day! I spent the day hiking barefoot on the Bruce Trail!

khonmanrak said...
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