is/was one of our favorite swimming holes when the girls were young. We had to travel dirt roads for what seemed like forever to reach this little paradise.
A spring fed creek tumbled through rocks down the hill side to feed the larger creek where "The Nars" were located. We had been visiting this place for years before I discovered it was actually called "The Narrows".
The water was clear, clean, almost crisp. The creek narrowed at the curve, the origin of the name. It was an idyllic setting with tree lined banks and sandy creek bottom.
One side was rock bluff, the other was a sandy beach. The young and the safety-minded adults loved the sandy side where the water gently sloped into deeper water. It was the perfect place for a family outing...sand, sun, and water.
It was not unusual during lazy summer weekends to see adults carrying children through three feet of water (the shallow crossing to reach the beach), lugging coolers and quilts, prepared to spend the day. Little tow-headed, half-naked children ran through the sand, splashed in shallow water, laughing with sheer delight as the guardians watched, smiling.
I learned to swim here. I could leave the bluff and swim toward the sandy beach, knowing safe ground was yards away. Along the bluff was perfect diving, the water was clear and you could swim under about fifteen feet and explore the underwater beauty of the rock bluff.
With all moving water, there are currents. Locals knew the currents and how to work with them. I have floated far down stream with only the current carrying me, staring up at the beautiful summer sky, content and safe with my knowledge of the place to break free and return to safer waters.
For years, Nars was only known to locals, who had permission from the land owner, and respected them by leaving nothing but footprints.
That soon changed as word spread of the hidden paradise. It was invaded. Now, long time campers and swimmers would arrive to find they must remove the trash before they could enjoy their visit. It soon became a party place with alcohol, idiots and unmentioned recreational drugs.
We visited less often.
My husband was a first responder. One beautiful summer day, he received a call for help. Upon arrival, one person had been pulled from the water but a second had not been rescued/recovered. The drunken adult female had been revived but a child was still missing.
The rescuers entered the water, desperately searching. Time was out, the water was not cold enough to prevent long term injury from drowning.
My husband found her, dressed in red, with her blond hair flowing with the current. She was lodged against the bluff under water where the locals knew not to go. Not quite eight, the small girl was beyond reviving, although the entire emergency crew tried. Pronounced at the scene, there was no hope.
I did not know the details until much later. After nights of interrupted sleep, with hubby waking up from nightmares, he told me.
The group of "responsible" adults were all drinking. No one could swim or no one was capable. The child fell in, the aunt jumped in to save her and could not swim. The drunken aunt was pulled out, the child was lost.
Hubby was the one who first saw her, the one who carried her to shore, the one who...I can't even speak of the sorrow or the nightmares he had. He won't either.
All he said was, I kept seeing our girls...our girls who had long blond hair and loved to wear red, our girls who swam there a hundred times, our girls that knew nothing but happy times in a beautiful place with responsible adults.
We never swam at Nars again and neither of us had the heart to tell the girls why.