Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Hike and a Swim

Written by: Kerry

We pulled into Grace Harbour on a beautiful Saturday in May, early enough in the day to enjoy the afternoon.  We had read about a trail leading from the head of the bay to a nearby fresh water lake and after securely anchoring the boat and lowering our dinghy, we set off to explore!

OK – let me set you up with a little background on me…   I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl.  I had some bad hiking experiences in my youth and in my thirties and I’m well aware of the baggage I still carry around due to this.  So although walking and hiking are going to be a part of my life from now on as a cruiser, I still ramp up on the anxiety scale around this activity.

The guide book had said a “15 minute walk” to the lake.  I thought, “Great!  I can do that.  It’s getting to be a really warm day (80F) and a dip in the lake might be nice!”  We beach our dinghy and set off.  Donn’s leading the way.  About 10-15 minutes into the walk, we’ve had to scramble a bit and duck under a tree or two.  We reach a point where it looks like the trail could go one of two ways.  We pick the path to the right, which leads us down to a stream/waterfall area, which is obviously coming from the lake, but the trail seems to disappear at this point.  

We confer and agree to go back to the fork.  By now, my anxiety is starting to creep up and I alert Donn, who is always understanding and supportive.  He listens, says "ok", and we keep going.  We now find the trail to the left, which crosses the upper end of the stream and keeps going through patches of mud.  We are wearing our crocs, which helps with the terrain and muddiness, so I keep trudging forward, hoping the lake is getting closer.  We go over and under more fallen trees, I’m getting hotter and more anxious, not seeing any signs of thinning trees or a lake.  Donn keeps checking in.  I drink water and try to calm my breathing.  We keep going.

Finally the lake appears - (It’s probably only been 30 minutes) - and truly, it is lovely.  My stress starts to seep away, but now I get to face a new dilemma.  I REALLY want to go swimming.  But the edge of the lake accessible to us has one nice flat rock outcropping just under the water, but it’s pretty slick with algae, and there are reeds and lily pads in the way of truly swimming out into deep water.  Except!  There is one good path between the reeds that looks like there is nothing blocking our way – so that is the plan.  We strip down.  The lake is deserted save for some frogs, small fish, and water bugs, so we decide suits are not necessary.  I keep my yellow crocs on.  Another thing I can’t deal with is touching soft stuff under the water, especially when it’s murky enough that I can’t see more than 1-2 feet down.  So my plan entails squatting or sitting on the slippery rock, and pushing off into full swim towards the break in the reeds out into deeper (cleaner?) water.  I am not interested in touching my feet down if I can help it.  Donn asks if I would like him to join me – hell yes, I do!  This is pushing all kinds of scary buttons for me and having him out there too will make me feel better.   We’re naked (except for my crocs) and we creep out onto the slippery rock.  The water is a lovely temperature – not too cold, and definitely refreshing after the crazy 30 minute hike I just endured.

I dog paddle like crazy to keep my body as close to the surface as possible until I get through the reeds.  Success!  I do not touch or run into anything under the surface and out into open water, I relax a bit.  Donn is still standing on the rock, debating his entrance plan.  He starts to move closer to the edge and I watch him slide and slip himself into the water.  He follows my path and soon he’s out there with me.  He finds a log or stump to stand on and invites me over, but I decline the foothold (too scary if I can’t see it).  I come over and float closer to him.  We swim around a bit enjoying the sun and solitude of this amazing lake.  When we decide to go back in, he leads the way and crawls up on to the slippery rock, finding finger holds in cracks to pull himself up and out.  I follow suit.  Soon we are on the shore again, drying off in the sun.  I’m feeling rather proud of myself for making it there at all, and getting out there in the water.  The return hike looms, but at least I know what to expect now.  We get dressed and prepare for the journey back.  

As we walk, I’m the one who suggests we take that first offshoot we tried and make our way down to the lower stream and shoreline and see if we can walk back to the dinghy around the edge of the bay rather than up and over through the woods again.  Donn thinks that’s a fine idea and we work our way down to the low tide line and pick our way among the rocks, oysters and barnacles.  Again, very thankful for our crocs!  We get back to the dinghy and Donn rows us back to the boat.  I immediately crawl into bed for a nap, happy and proud of my big adventure in Grace Harbour.


  1. I'm glad you wrote this story of your adventure in Grace Harbour. Sitting here grinning and loving you. :)

    1. Love you too, Mom! Thanks for encouraging me to write it down! :-)