when i first moved to portland, i was in the middle of a spiritual exercise with someone who has been a key teacher of mine, but when it came to the final ceremony where everyone was going to gather, i couldn’t make it. i was tapped out financially and had just started my job at the co-op. instead i got the information of when the crew of folks were going to be doing things and i made my first journey out to what was to become my special river.
i drove up and down the river, learning the curves and bends. i drove back and forth until i finally honed in on a place that felt just right. eventually i landed at a trail head, grabbed my trusty backpack and headed down the trail to find “the place”. it was maybe a 20 minute hike to a flat area close to the river with just enough space to set up a tent. i set up camp and began the work i came out to do.
part of what i wanted to do was jump in the river and cleanse myself of the work we had been doing for the year (i should mention this was october). i knew it was going to be a cold river and the evening was going to be cool, maybe (probably) rainy. so i stripped down and jumped in and froze my ever-loven-self off… anyway, the day and night happened. it was everything i wanted in the journey, and i began my love affair with this river and this land and old growth dug fir trees.
that was back in 2008… and i have been searching for this trail again and have not been able to find it regardless of how many times i travel the road, or search my journals or talk to folks. then… i had a week of finding out that really horrible things had happened to people i know. i held it together pretty well until a customer at the co-op added to the list of things…. so we took off late that night for the hot springs.
it was a wonderfully cool late night when we got there, took a little nap, and walked in just after sunrise. we found a quiet little place for just us, set out the snacks, and had a blast… relaxed, rested, and said good-bye to those we lost in the past week.
it’s been hot here in portland, so we decided that we would stop at a swimming hole on the way back to town after finding a nice place to cook up a mighty fine breakfast (at noon). we had some places in mind but stayed open to finding a quiet place with out many (or any) people. i was driving for some reason and passed this trail head sign that i don’t remember having seen before, so i turned around to check it out, and there it was! the trail i’ve been searching for! the parking lot was all grown over, the trail head sign was empty, and the whole place looked abandoned! so we stopped and loaded up for a swimming adventure. i still wasn’t sure if it was the same place i’d been searching for, or if it was just wishful thinking. the more we walked the more it felt right, but october and june look totally different here in the woods.
we came to this place that had a wonderful look out up and down the river, and there was this unmistakable distinct feature in the middle of the river, that’s when i knew we were in the right place. we didn’t go as far as i did before, but now i know where it is, and we found a wonderful place to swim! there was a sandy little beach area (hard to find sometimes around here), some shallow areas to just wad in if needed, and then some wonderfully deep places to jump off the surrounding boulders and cliff faces along the banks! we had an amazing time frolicking around and being generally playful and relaxed and i got sunburned in places i didn’t know could burn… so you know, it was a fun summer day in a climate changing spring. why is it that the simplest snacks taste so much better in a hot sun after a cold mountain river swim and beach sex, and laughter and a few tears? a sip of jammison never really hurts either….
i fell in love with this place all over again. its become my go-to place where i’ve headed to all summer. i’ve watched it change as the summer and now fall, have continued to be hot and dry. but this river! this spot! its good to have a spot! a place to go: a river, a rock on a mountain, a piece of limestone in the tall grass prairies, a piece of driftwood to watch the ocean breath in and out, a desert look out, a park bench close to the place you live, your porch steps….whatever helps you inhale when it feels nearly impossible to do so.