Fraught with Peril, Filled with Beauty

When I was a little kid in swimming lessons at the YMCA, I would run out of breath constantly because I was convinced orcas were in the pool with me, chasing me. I was absolutely sure they were always just outside my peripheral vision, poised to attack. I kept swimming, but I really never excelled at the front crawl because of it.  These days, I have learned to love swimming laps, but I’m still not great with the front crawl — there is something about that underwater view that always makes me uneasy.

When it comes to “wild water” (i.e. water that is, you know, outdoors and not a pool), I have to admit at this stage of the game that I’m afraid of water. We’re talking good, old-fashioned full-on irrational fear. I’ve always persevered to overcome this fear, or at least not be too limited by it, and I’ve had varying degrees of success. I love boats and being on the water, but there is something about that wild unknown below that still freaks me out pretty thoroughly. When I lived on the ocean during college I managed to work myself up to swimming daily and I really was pretty comfortable. I could bob around in the surf with the best of them and I came to truly love it.

Unfortunately, I’ve never really gotten over my distrust of murky water or river currents though and it shows pretty quickly when I’m in a canoe. It shows really quickly when I’m asked to get into any rivers or streams clouded by sediment. So when my husband told me last Tuesday night that instead of a day of hiking at Devil’s Lake State Parkhe instead wanted to start the day at Pewitt’s Nest there was some instant dread. And he didn’t just want to do what we did last time — where he takes the kids down Skillet Creek and I wait at the end. He wanted me to depart from my comfort zone and join them. I spent the next 16hours trying to not talk about it as much as possible knowing full well the crazy monologue in my head would ruin my hubby’s day. I mostly succeeded. Kind of.

Pewitt’s Nest, you see, is a deep gorge through which Skillet Creek flows. It is undoubtedly beautiful with its steep cliffs.

IMG_0185But to enjoy it you have to wade through this creek. Most of it isn’t too bad, especially if, like us, you don’t plan to go all the way down the creek to the trailhead. The hike is primarily through water that is only shin deep and the bottom has decent footing for most of the way with either sandstone or a sandy bottom. There is one spot, however, that is like this…

Cue the panic.

My hubby delivered the kids down at a safe spot and then came back for me. What ensued was pretty embarrassing. As soon as my feet disappeared into the silty water and then the water came up to my knees I started to hyperventilate. Involuntary tears flowed freely. My husband gave me his walking stick in addition to my regular walking stick to give me more security and he walked right beside me, most likely wondering how it came to be that he married a woman who is a good swimmer, but is terrified of knee-deep water. It was not great. I kept on, though, and as we neared the spot where the kids were I used the brim of my hat to hide my face while I cleaned up a bit, not wanting to add to my son’s already present low-level distrust of the situation. My daughter & Moose had no such qualms, thankfully, only glee.

Securely in a spot where we were far enough from the trail and most of the people, we were able to hang out and enjoy the scenery. We relaxed for a while and I was able to calm down and enjoy where I was.

IMG_0196I examined the ferns, inexplicably growing from the…

IMG_0194Insanely green walls of the gorge.

IMG_0193And the reflection of the creek on the sandstone formations high above was definitely a sight to see.

You would think the trip out would have been easier than heading in and I guess in a way it was. Sort of. I tried to focus on how pretty this place was.

IMG_0195The hyperventilating recurred, but I managed to hold back most of the tears. That’s improvement, I think. Sort of. As if to point out my ridiculousness, while I gasped for breath in the final leg of the hike my daughter doggie paddled happily next to the dog in the thigh-deep water. Of course, after all the fuss, it’s not lost on me that I made it out without tripping and falling in. No rogue orcas attacked. In fact, my shorts barely even got wet.

Having narrowly escaped the monsters of the deep in Skillet Creek, we headed to Devil’s Lake where we enjoyed our picnic. After which the kids and Mr Knitting Sarah swam in the lake, Moose took a load off, and I clicked away on my Rose City Rollers in my July Summer Sock Club Yarn from Feel Good Yarn Co.

IMG_0190A very busy, dog-friendly park, we were having a nice relaxing time when a well-meaning dad tried to let his little girl be in charge of holding the leash of their overly-friendly pitbull. With me in my camp chair and directly at face level with the animal, the dog lunged toward me so I quickly dropped my knitting to grab Moose who was a short tie-out. I was attempting to prevent these two creatures from meeting right in my face — even though the pitbull appeared very friendly, Moose can be very enthusiastic with new doggie friends and there was no way that I was not about to be creamed. At the last moment with the dog about a foot away, the dad grabbed to pitbull and we avoided incident, but in the fast-moving & crazy moment I managed to impale myself in the thigh with one of my US size 1 knitting needles.  I have never stabbed myself (or anyone else for that matter) with a knitting needle before and I can now attest to the fact that it does in fact hurt a fair bit and it’s suprisingly easy to make yourself bleed. Thankfully, I carry bandaids and a small first-aid kit with me at all times, so I was able to bandage myself up so I didn’t bleed all over my skirt on the ride home.

Sipping a much-deserved iced coffee, I was able to knit on my socks all the way home. I finished up the day by casting-off my Rose City Rollers.

IMG_0198(I’ll get some FO photos in proper light soon.)

Fraught with peril, filled with beauty, and complete with  a little blood loss, a few tears, and a lot of smiles and laughs, my little family made it home happy and tired from our very full day. This is what summer days are all about.