The area we call home is teeming with swimming holes – we’ve just never been to any of them. There’s a website that shows the location of them all, and I’ve suggested going to them in the past, but the drive is usually long enough to wonder if the location is worth it. Besides, I’m truthfully more of a nice, clean pool kinda gal.
But my husband’s boss went to one called Sugar Hollow a few weeks back and posted photos on Facebook. Once hubby saw those and asked him about the location, he was raring to go. We planned a trip there, but I had badly stubbed my toe just days before and my oldest daughter had bad cramps, so only hubby and our youngest went.
He came back raving about it, and insisted the whole family take the trip a.s.a.p – that a.s.a.p was yesterday. I was a tad wary as it was going to be in the high 90′s, and a hike up a mountain isn’t my idea of a good way to stay cool. But good, bad, or ugly, my family was headin’ for a day at the ole swimmin’ hole.
The drive was beautiful, but it always is when you head out by Crozet, VA. When we approached the entrance to Sugar Hollow, we passed the reservoir, which is featured in the movie “Evan Almighty.” Then a short drive up a dirt road lead us to the parking lot. We gathered our stuff in back packs and began to hike.
We had agreed to take a different trail than hubby had blazed the last time. There was another swimming hole called Blue Hole that we wanted to explore. We crossed the river, soaking our feet, and headed up the trail. It was wide and worn and easy to navigate, but it was uphill. All the time.
At times it got really rocky, and you had to pay attention to where you put your feet. We hiked up and up, usually at a grade that was not steep enough to really make you huff and puff, but was taxing on your legs none the less. We spotted a ton of raspberry bushes, and my youngest and I stopped to pick a few.
We’d been hiking for about 20 minutes when I turned to hubby and asked if the other swimming hole had been this long of a trek. He said no, but that the trail was rockier and steeper. And on we went. It was getting monotonous, but we were in the shade so it was cool. And, looking on the bright side, I figured the walk back would be a breeze as it would be all down hill.
We crossed the river again, and I welcomed the cool, refreshing water on my feet. We had been on this trail for more than 30 minutes and it was getting increasingly steeper. Where was this joint? Thankfully, a group of college kids began marching past us and I asked them how much further up the swimming hole was. I was thankful (and inwardly groaning) when they said a 1/4 mile more.
When we finally got there, the climb down to the water was pretty treacherous – at least the dopey path we decided to take. We had to go one at a time, and it the going was slow. By the time I got down to the water, sweat was pouring into my eyes and I was having trouble seeing.
And it wasn’t as if you could just fall into the water. The river was teeming with rocks…slippery rocks that we had to navigate before you could sink down into the deep pool of water that was just a little further upstream. Plus it was crowded for a Monday. There must have been at least 20 sharing the average sized swimming hole. Some had lawn chairs and I thought to myself, “carrying that all the way up here would suck,” but they had a great place to sit!
There were rocks that surrounded the pool that the kids were climbing up and jumping off of, and there was a gorgeous little waterfall – all in all it was pretty. But it was also so exhausting.
It was really hard to walk, and I had sneakers on. The rocks were slippery and there were lots of them. It was hard for me to pick my way up and down the stream – I was constantly checking my balance which began to take its toll on me. I was thankful when I finally found a spot where I could sit down and take a breather.
I eased down into the pool and was instantly astonished at the temperature of the water. It was freezing! I mean super cold – refreshing, because we were so hot from our hike, but there was no way on God’s green that I was going in any deeper than my waist.
I watched folks jump off the rocks, and just enjoyed the scenery. Before long everyone left we had the whole place to ourselves. The girls took their turns jumping off the rock, now that they could do it without an audience, and it was really funny to watch. The water was so cold that my oldest would resurface accompanied by a look of utter shock, and that first lung full of air was an actual gasp.
We didn’t stay that much longer though. While the pool was pretty, there wasn’t much to it. We’d cooled off sufficiently and decided to just call it a day. The hike back to the car went much faster than the way up, because it was downhill, and we knew what we were in for.
We picked quite a few raspberries along the way. They were scrumptious. For me, it was the best part of the day.
I Googled the hike to Blue Hole when we got home and found out it was 1.5 miles. Uphill. I swear it felt like 10; on the way up anyway.
Hubby wants to take us back, but we will go to the other swimming hole he went to on his first visit there. He says the hike is easier and the pool is bigger. I’m up for it. I like to hike, especially when you know you can take a refreshing dip at the end of the trail.
I just hope there are raspberries on that trail. I’ll bring a bucket just in case.