My friend, Rachel, likes to swim as much as I do. This kindred spirit is rare to my world, so when I find someone who is game to swim, I’m in! She suggested the quarry at the Eno State Park in Durham, NC. I recently broke with my 6 year relationship and was feeling blue and needed a change of activity. So, Rachel and my other long-time friend, Beth, decided we would go on Sunday for a girl’s dip in the man-made vernal pool.
The weather here in NC has been the rainiest I can remember and it’s tough to make outdoor plans with any certainty. It wasn't thundering nor lightning, so we geared up with walking shoes, suits and anything that would float, as you need something to give you a break. We walked in the rain for about a mile down the trail and realized we missed our turn. We trudged up and down trails with rocks, mud and and tree roots covered by the wet canopy of trees that is quintessential NC forest, with old hardwoods of every variety. The trail was messy, but overall easily traversed.
Rachel led the way with tireless confidence holding her boogie board, I followed behind and Beth brought up the rear with an inner tube around her. Beth looked like a 3 year old, and when I looked back, I had to chuckle a few times. We finally got back on the right trail and walked the additional .8 mile trek with the rain just pouring. Each of proclaiming that it looked like the rain was gonna break any moment. It didn't. We've had so much rain over the last month, that when we had to cross the normally low creek, we all paused a moment to figure out the best way to cross the rocky, fully flowing obstacle....without of course falling down and having an old-lady moment. We made it and there was the quarry! There is a trail around the quarry with multiple “drop in” areas. We had to assess the best option as none of us are 20 years old anymore and we certainly didn’t want to fall into the quarry with clumsiness of Homer Simpson. Yeah, picture it.
Rachel carefully got down the little rocky bank and dove in. I was next and sat on a rock half way in the water and finally plunged in. Here comes Beth with her inner tube. I looked back to make sure she was ok and she jumped in like a little kid jumping to her mother at the pool. Kind of a belly flop and labrador retriever technique. I laughed till I cried and will never get that image out of my head.
The water is dark and very deep. If someone goes under, there would not be a likelihood of saving anyone. There is no gradual entry to the quarry. You must be a good swimmer and bring a float for safety. At that moment, the rain stopped and mother nature smiled upon our adventure. The water was the perfect temperature and for me, that environment was when I was at my most peaceful and confident. I decided that day that the quarry was my church and I wanted to go every Sunday that I could, weather permitting.
We bobbed, flipped, swam and floated with intermittent stories, laughter, melancholy and silence. I love my friends and this was a beautiful, shared time that I hope everyone could have the pleasure of experiencing. After a couple of hours of water time, we decided to attempt getting out and up the bank to walk the .8 mile trail back to the car. As we got out, the rain started again, and we all laughed and marveled that our timing was perfect. The company was perfect. Everything was perfect and I will cherish that time forever. I hope if you ever get the opportunity to go to the quarry, that you will heed the danger warnings, prepare and take in the turtles, toads, rocky banks and and the pool of life. It’s more than worth it.