As most of you are by now aware, Lake Champlain is sort of fucked. With all the rain and snow melt, the lake breached its shores big styley and left a whole mess of destruction in its wake. One of the worst parts about all the flooding — besides the whole ruination of homes and livelihoods — is the fact that it effectively put the kibosh on big lake swimming this summer.
First of all, there is hardly any beach left. They're all still submerged in soupy, scumwater. When the water finally does recede, who knows what will remain and if anyone will want to step foot there. Most likely, we'll have to fight for beach space with rusted out carburetors and medical waste. Awesome.
Secondly, the water is pretty grody right now. It's a stew of phosphorous run-off, tree limbs and doll heads. I pretty much want to swim there never. Champ doesn't even want to float around in the lake anymore and he's been there for like 300 years. The algae blooms are predicted to be overwhelming and the floating detritus (like the remnants of Poppa Neutrino's raft that I swear I saw near Oakledge Park recently) will take a while to clean up.
So what's a little water-baby to do? We suggest you hightail it to one of the many swimming spots in our region that are not Lake Champlain, especially this week, when temps are expected to ring in around 90 degrees. Below, in no particular order, is an admittedly non-comprehensive list of places to cool off in the area. Swim at your own risk. And wear your sunscreen (Dan Bolles).
1. Bolton Potholes — This area just off the Bolton Access Road is famed for its swimming hole. It's also famed, or rather infamous, for the hordes of people it attracts every summer. The town has begun prohibiting parking along the the road and with good reason — people were destroying the hell out of the place. If you go, maybe hit it during the week and try your hardest not to be a douche when you're there.
2. Triple Buckets — The Huntington River in Richmond can certainly be dangerous — Huntington Gorge has claimed many lives over the years. But if you stick to the swimming holes (literally, three buckets) below the falls and the gorge off of Dugway Road, you'll be alright. If you're into jumping off of tall things, you can do that here. There's a sizable cliff jump, but good luck pushing your way past all the teenage boys to get a shot.
3. Indian Brook Reservoir — Yes, you have to pay to swim in this beautiful town reservoir, but it's worth it. While some people sneak in "the back," you should probably pay your cash, since that's what keeps the place so nice. $8 for Essex residents, $32 (ouch) for non-residents. It can get crowded on weekends, but it's a 60-acre reservoir, so there's no shortage of water.
4. Colchester Pond — This little gem in Colchester is smaller than Indian Brook and you don't have to pay. The last time I went, no one was there and I had the killer rope swing on the far side of the lake all to myself. I'm wondering if there are snakes or dead bodies floating in the water, which is why it was empty. Maybe it was just the sight of me in a bathing suit that scared other swimmers off. Oh well, more rope swinging for me.
5. Lake Iroquois — This little 229-acre beauty is bounded by Richmond, Hinesburg, Williston and St. George and makes for some good summer swimming. Like Indian Brook, you have to pay to use it. But unlike Indian Brook, you can buy day passes for $5-$7 a pop, which is basically what you would pay if we had any public outdoor pools in this neck of the woods.
6. Warren Falls — This swimming hole is a little off the beaten path for Burlingtonians, though residents of the Valley are well familiar with it. It features huge, deep pools, water slides and some little rock features you can jump from. But the best part is its proximity to the Warren Store, where you can get the best sandwiches this side of where ever makes good sandwiches.
7. Bristol Falls — This spot is another one of those where you're apt to find lots of teenagers hucking themselves off of tall things into pools of water. But don't let the smell of raging hormones discourage you from going. There are plenty of places to swim that aren't full of pizza-faced youth. Work on your tan in the Circle Current, or head further upstream for some natural water slides.
Photo via northeastwaterfalls.com.