September 22, 2011
As the sun sank, we made our way towards the train tracks bordering the Washington side of the Columbia River. The smell of fermenting blackberries brought back memories of my childhood spent running around, face painted and brandishing a wrist rocket, blasting gravel and anything that moved. Negotiating a vine the diameter of a ping-pong ball, I felt a familiar tug on my shorts and the sharp scrape of a blackberry thorn on my thigh.
“God damn it!” I moaned, grabbing the thorn and flicking it like a popcorn kernel. “How do you get through this shit?”
“With this plank,” Tim said, flipping a 12-foot plank on top of the blackberry bushes and walking across on it. Following Tim’s lead, I quickly made it through the bramble and onto the tracks.
Despite the shortening days, temperatures in 80’s made the steel tracks and black railroad ties feel like late July as we headed west a half mile towards a longtime favorite swimming hole. Scrambling up the trail, we disregarded a no trespassing sign, emerging onto a basalt outcropping into the Columbia river.
A hydration bladder, of sorts…
“Man it’s getting darker earlier,” Tim said crouching on a rock and dripping water from a jump.
“Indian Summer is in full effect,” I grinned, pulling my T-shirt over my head and sliding on my flip flops. “Let’s go eat.” We were there for only twenty minutes, but that’s what makes a summer swim a summer swim, even in mid September.
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