This weekend Florian wanted to check out Green Ridge State Forest, so after going to Berkeley Springs and bringing the dogs in to little shops while we shopped for Nepalese garments and fragrant soaps, we headed off in search of swimming holes.
The first we accessed off a hidden, tree-covered road off the main road near Paw Paw, which dead-ended in a hidden parking area next to the C&O Canal. One branch of the Potomac there was wide and shallow and warm.
On the other side of the C & O trail, which featured some of the spooky old stonework I love, was another branch of the Potomac and a nice deep spot where some people were swinging in off a rope but we went off in search of relative solitude. We found a place of wide, warm, clear water, gorgeous stratified rocks climbing up to join the jungle, and silence in the shimmering afternoon.
A place just deep enough for Fozzie to go in, wading most of the way, then try his paw at swimming. Which he did like a pro! Paddling about, still with that nervous face, but venturing in again and again just for the fun of it.
That place just felt magical, with the warm rocks and the sweet fragrance I can only describe as like the desert after a rain, because I used to smell it so often in Santa Fe.
Could have stayed there all day, but we had to find a campsite. After a long drive on a windy, rutted road through the forest, Lamar in the back looking alternately carsick and comatose, we came upon a campsite with nicely maintained parking spaces and picnic tables right by the river, complete with spooky-looking abandoned stonework and historic plaques.
Seems there is an endless number of these out-of-the way historic and spooky spots to discover, all dog-friendly because apparently not many people have discovered them yet, or maybe there are so many of them that each one maintains its seclusion.
Yesterday, we found more. One accessed after a bit of a hike along an overgrown two-track trail, where we stepped over huge freshly fallen branches.
The air was still thick, but cooler; a relief to see signs of a recent storm since it had been utterly dry and hot where we'd been the night before, not 10 miles away.
This was the place where Fozzie swam out to join us in places that were just over his head, and chased rocks thrown for him by Florian until he was way more exhausted than he realized, and literally sunk under water as we led him back to shore. I had to run and hoist the poor thing up by his harness.
Fortunately, he seemed unscathed by his near-drowning as it didn't stop him from swimming out for more.
And the best part? Fozzie was off-leash, almost the whole weekend. He ran like a banshee as soon as I first let him off, like he's been waiting his whole life just for the freedom to stretch those muscular legs and go. But he came back to us, even came right up to me and waited patiently while I put his harness back on. I would have kept him on a leash if there had been a bunch of people around for him to harass with his kisses, but the places we happened upon were so secluded and wonderful I felt the pups could run and swim free to their hearts' content.
Such a source of joy to see them so happy and fulfilled.
After living in places like Santa Fe and Portland, OR--places known for their outdoorsy populace and their ease of access to outstanding natural beauty--it still amazes me how incredible this area is for the accessibility of hiking, swimming, and stunning rocky scenic watery and vegetated vistas.