Day Trips with a Splash: Swimming Holes of the Southwest

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9780965768627: Day Trips with a Splash: Swimming Holes of the Southwest

A hiker's guide to swimming holes in Arizona and southern Utah. Secluded waterfalls, remote two-person tubs, hidden pools. It's a backcountry tip sheet for where to jump in when the surrounding rocks are sizzling and by definition the summer's coolest guide.

Clothing optional spots are indicated. Similarly, icons tell dog owners if four-legged hikers are appropriate and families with small children can tell at a glance if the journey is a good one for the little dippers. Privacy is listed for each entry along with other icons indicating the best season to visit, the difficulty of approach, and the overall rating, whether fair, good, excellent or classic.

Each review is accompanied by a photo and topographic map. If you buy the book you can register to download individual maps for print out at home. That way, you can fold up the map and tuck it in your shirt pocket instead of carrying a 216-page book when you're only using two pages of it. Much more elegant.

In addition to telling hikers the best places to go, Day Trips with a Splash also lists places not worth visiting. After all, there are only 55 hours until Monday. Might as well make the weekend count.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Author:

Try this. Make an appointment with your banker. Explain that you want a business loan to open a chain of lingerie shops in fundamentalist Moslem countries or to sell beach chairs in the High Arctic. The reaction you get will be similar to puzzled expression friends and family made when I announced plans to write a book about swimming holes in the desert.

I wasn't really sure whether to take myself seriously either, so I picked April 1 as the date to start the research and the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson as the place.

Contrary to apprehensions, when I asked about swimming holes, enthusiastic volunteers pointed me up what seemed like every canyon. Most of the time they were right.

It began a season of discovery. Plunge pools scuba deep and great slabs of sandstone form smooth containers of cool water. In the Southwest a person can enjoy an intimate tub deeply shaded by sycamore or the Gothic shock of tall rock stretching 1/4-mile along deep water.

Many places featured here are so little visited that they don't have agreed-upon names. In most cases, the names I selected are based on the canyon the hole is in, the trail it's along, or natural features nearby. Where there are more than a couple of holes on the same stretch of water, I made up the name myself.

All of them are lovingly recorded in a collection of photos painted in the primary colors of the Southwest: blue sky, red rock and green water.

I also gathered some interesting geologic samples. I had little spheres of sandstone called Navajo marbles that I picked up near Lake Powell and some geodes I found up near Zane Grey's cabin in Payson, Arizona. The collection rode along unobtrusively for 20,000 miles, all held in place by camera bags, climbing equipment and so forth... all until I got home.

Too tired to unpack, I flopped on the bed, pleased and maybe even a little smug about my success with such an unlikely topic.

While I enjoyed a self-satisfied rest inside, thieves jimmied the driver side door. I didn't discover the theft until the first stop sign the next morning when I heard the stones roll forward and crash against the cargo box in the back of the truck.

The first thing I looked for were the photos. Still there. But the thieves inadvertently grabbed a bag containing the microcassettes I used to record field notes. They amounted to six months of research without which I could not write the book.

I cleared my schedule for the next summer and prepared for the Zen exercise of paying twice for the same real estate.

While not strictly speaking a spiritual experience, the act of reliving a portion of one's life delivered some fascinating symmetry. Fifty three weeks later, on the last day of the desert redux, my truck got burglarized again.

It was at a canyon I'd failed to find twice before. But, since swimming hole scholarship doesn't favor slackers, I made a last attempt and was rewarded with four magnificent places that I photographed before turning back toward the research vessel where I would drink a beer then drive west toward my reward. Just a few steps remaining.

But what's this? The cooler was missing. Other stuff, too. Again.

After some time gesturing wildly with a pistol, I decided the only remedy was a search for meaning.

It might be a straight up Sunday school story about pride prefiguring the fall. Perhaps it was some karmic debt repaid with double compounded interest or simply the cruel teeth of a meaningless universe.

Experience favored the latter. In becoming a swimming hole professional, I learned that goalposts keep moving. The physical objective is always deeper down the canyon or higher up the watershed, farther along the road and closer to the middle of nowhere.

The burglaries only showed that an object, once collected, resists possession and the purpose to which it's dedicated evades completion. Gravity is real; rocks are hard. Disorder is the rule and entropy always wins.

I still lock doors and back up data, but the most durable defense is to accept reward in the activity itself.

By that measure the loss of property and the expense of 40,000 miles felt good. It felt really good. It felt like finding water in the desert.

From the Inside Flap:

Hi-tech enthusiasts say the simplest way to get there is GPS. Thousands bought Global Positioning System receivers only to discover the Catch 22 of satellite navigation.

You can't really save the location of a place until you've actually been there; and once you've been there, you don't necessarily need GPS to get back. So our topo maps include coordinates to enter into the receiver before the hike. That way you can tell where you're going instead of simply where you've been.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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