Much like on the savannah, all walks of life can be found making their way to the nearest water source when the day heats up, and we’re no exception. While the regulars at our local swimming holes may not be your typical elephants and zebras, each day out in nature offers a safari’s worth of things to see and characters to meet. That said, safaris do have some rules. Keep hands and arms inside the vehicle, don't stare at the rhino’s horn, and don't feed the monkeys.
We quickly find that at each swimming spot, in
order to coexist, it’s important to observe local customs. Being loud, making a
mess, and hogging all the prime real estate are all quick ways to stand out as
newcomers. Here are a few tips from our locale in Vermont’s Green Mountains to
help you blend in at yours.
Know where to go (or at least where not to).
You may have heard about a sweet spot in an area you’re not familiar with. In many states, water sources are public land, so you can likely dip your toes in just about anywhere. The key thing is to avoid trespassing on people’s property, and knowing when to tread lightly. The best spots are actually well guarded secrets, like hidden powder stashes at the mountain. The internet is a good (or bad, depending on your perspective) resource for finding your way around. Do some Googling and figure out the best way to approach.
Pack it in, pack it out.
The Leave No Trace policy is a must-abide, because it doesn’t take much for a spot to go from gorgeous to garbage. Respect the outdoors and help maintain the beauty for everyone.
One of the greatest things about a swimming spot is that everybody’s there for the same reason. While this does lead to some easy camaraderie, don’t mistake the vibe for an invitation to set up camp too close to someone’s zone, especially if there’s more space elsewhere.
Beverage game strong - but no glass.
Similar to leaving no trace, avoiding glass is key to any swimming spot. A broken bottle is bound to leave some sharp scraps, and everyone and their dog is walking around barefoot. Bring cans, and a bag to keep them cold.
Look before you leap.
Cliff jumping is a blast, but don’t just wing it as soon as you get to a new spot. Scope it out to make sure you’re not jumping on top of anyone, and ask someone who’s already jumped if there’s anything you need to look out for. It’s all fun until somebody lands on something other than water.
Don’t blow up the spot.
A cool river spot is perfect for an afternoon with the crew, but don’t take it as an opportunity to wheel in the keg and hire a DJ – especially if there are other people nearby. Be respectful of people’s right to enjoy nature in peace. Furthermore, this means keeping the hidden gems a secret. By keeping the sweet spots on the down-low, you’re doing your part to protect a piece of natural habitat and prevent it from turning into a fairground.
You swim, you hang, you set up a hammock, towel off and enjoy the scene. Having a little chair and table setup sure doesn’t hurt, but it’s a choose-your-own adventure. For more information, feel free to pull up the watering hole special on Nat Geo and watch how it’s done in the animal kingdom. This has been a public service announcement from your friendly local river-lovers. ∆