Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thrills at Rockwell Falls

Rockwell Falls on the Hudson River at Hadley/Lake Luzerne

It was such a gorgeous day yesterday, so warm and summery, it inspired sweet thoughts of the old swimming hole I haven't swum in for several years.  So I drove upstream, about ten miles north, to Hadley/Lake Luzerne.  Here the Hudson River plunges through a gorge at a place called Rockwell Falls.  You can't quite step across the river here, but you could easily toss a rock across -- maybe 15, 20 feet when the water's low.  The water was a bit high yesterday, but not as high as I thought it might be, spring runoff and all.

Some daredevils jump in the Hudson right here below the falls and get a great ride downstream. But some die trying, too: caught in the roiling aerated water that gives them no purchase to pull against (try swimming in a cloud!), or pounded into jagged rocks underwater, or sucked by currents against undercut banks and they can't get out.  But I can't think of any other place I'd rather swim.

Of course, I go downstream a ways, beyond the bridge, to where the river calms down a bit, but where the current is still swift enough to give me a little thrill.  There are quieter pools, for floating and dreaming, and flat rocks to climb out onto and lie in the sun.  And cliffs of various heights for diving off of.  Kids like to show off by jumping off the bridge.  Enough of them died doing this that the town has fenced and NO TRESSPASSed the access, but still many kids (and grown-ups) congregate here. 

Which is great.  I love it that kids (and old ladies like me) can still find places to frolic without adult supervision, where the danger is just enough to heighten your senses, and nobody's yelling "No running!" and blowing whistles.  But I do wish that folks could have fun here without getting drunk.  That's when they do stupid things that injure themselves and get the authorities hot for fences and fines.  And that's when they break their god damned bottles all over the place and turn a spot that I used to call Heaven into a garbage dump.

I just remembered why I don't swim here any more. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This beautiful place claimed the life of my son because the towns are too worried about tourist being scared away then letting people know of the hazards of these Falls. When the water is high a person who has never been there cannot tell how deep the gorge river is or that it covers a gorge that has swift undercurrents. This is no place to swim! My son would have nver gone here if he would have known and he was a strong swimmer. When you glorify swimming here, you should think of the parents like myself who have lost children here. Dont contribute to more of them dying