The River*

Can 2020 just be over? Global health pandemics, social justice unrest, upcoming elections (ugh) and now wildfires raging in Oregon. From my prior blogpost my readers likely surmised I was in Central Oregon to spend the month of September. With forest fires 50 miles away from Bend what is typically a nice time weather-wise to be here, it was well…a little smokey.

Some perspective, the air quality index (AQI-a new stat for me) was over 400 for nearly a week. Typical AQI is around 20. The air quality was so poor that they closed the outdoor pool for 5 days.


People were wearing masks for Covid now they were actually wearing masks because it was hard to breathe.

AQI 400+

Much like my blogpost in May~desperate times led to desperate measures (Desperate times…desperate measures). I connected with some local swimmers who throughout the summer were swimming in the Deschutes River. They would meet at the First Street rapids swim down river for a mile or so and then fight the current back up. Now the water is a cold 54 degrees which is definitely at the low end of my range. It was getting a little late in the season to swim in this part of the river sans wetsuit but…I was desperate to swim and importantly to meet new people.

There were about eight of us taking the plunge. We stripped off and when they realized I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit I think there was some surprise. Not thinking they were impressed with me but likely thought who was this dummy from Boston. I was the last one in the water and let out a big yelp-it was cold!

I started following the group down river with a moderate current pushing us. I swam about 200 yards and my better judgement kicked in and I figured that I don’t need to be way down river and have to fight a current back with hypothermia and end up in the hospital. So… I swam back upstream to the entry point where I decided to go up and down the river 25 yards at a time so I would be close to shore. I ended up being in the water for 25 minutes and made sure I was in still in the water when the others came back. 😉

Walking back to the car I was shaking like a fall leaf and was happy that I lasted as long as I did and met some new friends.

Looking forward to swimming in the Deschutes again with this group and in other Central Oregon bodies of water. Ideally in water 10+ degrees warmer and with blue skys and gorgeous sunrises.

*We’d go down to the river, and into the river we’d dive, oh-down to the river we’d ride~The River by Bruce Springsteen


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