December 15th, 2008 -- Really warm and some questions answered

Today the temperature shot up into the sixties. I walked outside at 9:30 and I thought, "Wow...this would be a great day to go to Devil's Pool." So, I called Andrew Gary Baker and we made plans to go. We did not have a cameraperson in tow though so this will just be a short story.

We got down there around 11am. The sun was still hiding behind the trees on the eastern ridge, so we discussed the appropriate time to travel to Devil's Pool in December. We figured that we had jumped the gun a little on account of the amazing warmth surrounding us. But, this miscalculation did not deter us from going ahead with the plan. Since Andrew had the honors on Sunday it was my turn to start us off. I always take an extra long time to take the initial plunge. The moment when I stand in shorts at the edge of the rock completely dry looking down at the water is the only time during the excursions where I think to myself, "Why the fuck are you doing this?" Then it ussually takes me a number of minutes to realize that no matter how much I ask myself that question the only option for answering it is to simply jump in. During this time I make chit-chat with Andrew, trying to ignore the fact that I am being a wimp. And the air temperature was so warm that I could stand there for a while summoning the courage.

Another aspect of the initial-plunge-fear that I have yet to dicuss is the "No Dive" phenomenon. Since last summer I have been quite proficient at diving from most heights and comfortable with it. However, when the water is as cold as it is in December I have realized that I ussually take the initial water entry as a jump instead of a dive. I am afraid that I will go too deep in the cold water. This is utter nonsense though, so, on Monday, amidst the warmth of the air and the kind encouragement of Andrew Gary, I took my first jump as a dive and proved to myself that it is all okay.

Long story short though...the air was so warm that Andrew and I both took multiple dives into the water (Oh...I forgot, Andrew got his dive back. He had had a bad dive experience and since has been just jumping but he reemployed the dive as a water entry technique Monday [good job Andrew!!!]). Additionally a group of school kids were across the Wissahickon from Devil's Pool and watched from a distance probably saying things to themselves like, "Holy Mackeral...those guys are crazy!!!" or "For the love of Jesus, they must be freezing" or "Why didn't I bring my bathing suit?"

Anyway...the water was cold, the air was warm and our bodies thanked us for the rest of the day for taking the time to go swimming in December, for the third day in a row. We are heading down to Cape May Friday and Saturday to jump in the ocean too if anyone wants to come. And this coming Sunday we will be hitting Devil's Pool again.

Now, onto a few questions that have been asked since the first blog:


Peter Farnum, from New York, NY: How many people have died at Devil's Pool?

Well, Peter, After a pretty exhaustive google search I have not found any recent articles on anyone that has died at Devil's Pool. However, I am sure that many people have been seriously injured over the years, IF they make the unwise decision to attempt a jump from the bridge above the pool. You can see the bridge in the photo below. We DO NOT suggest that anyone should ever climb on that bridge or jump from it. And you will never see us doing that.

However, I do know many, many people who have not died at Devil's Pool...maybe you should become one of those people when you are home for the Holidays.


Pat Burns, from Ithaca, NY: Are there snakes at Devil's Pool?

Well, Pat, there are two species of snakes that are found along the Wissahickon river a little north of Wissahickon Woods, or Valley Green (as it is more commonly known) according to a study by Marlin Corn. These are the Northern Ringneck Snake and the Northern Black Racer. I have seen a snake on a few occasions while swimming at Devil's Pool, but only during the summer and fall. I am not sure what kind of snake it was. Also, I take a miniature trouser snake with me everytime, but during the winter I bring a dwarf miniature trouser snake.

More questions will be answered in the upcoming blogs. Thanks for reading.

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