December 27th - by Andrew Gary Baker

I recently spoke with our friend Jodi Schaff and an interesting topic came up. Jodi asked if there have been any dramatic alterations in my outer life since I have been taking part in the Devil's Pool winter mission. I answered that all of my problems seem to remain when I rise out of the water, but it sure is fun!

Today two new pilgrims, Deb Riley and Pamela Anderson (believe it or not), joined Roddy and I for the trip to Devil's Pool (for the most part we went without video due to the weather). Since early December, Deb Riley has been grappling with her desire to experience Devil's Pool versus her overwhelming fear of the harsh cold. Pamela Anderson has had a hip replacement, and though she yearns for the splendor a natural retreat such as Devil's Pool offers, she wasn't sure it is practical anymore for her to make the hike. Today these two women surpassed their limiting beliefs of their own selves. What did we learn at Devil's Pool today through these women? Beauty.

So to revisit Jodi's question, what does change when we transcend our constrictive beliefs of who we are, our imprisoning beliefs of what we are capable of accomplishing? Our mind and our hearts are the filters through which we experience the world. I guess if we change our minds and hearts about our self, then we change nothing outwardly. However, we change our experience of everything!

Dare to step outside of yourself and experience something more powerful than your confining fears. You should come with us next time we go.

December 26th - by Andrew Gary Baker

December 26 was yet another joyous celebration of life (oh, and Nicole Palazzolo's birthday!) at Devil's Pool. Nicole, Becca, Roddy and myself frolicked gleefully upon the rocks and (quite obviously) in the pool below. Nicole and Becca both made their second trek to Devil's Pool this December, which should encourage those of you who question just how awesome the Devils Pool experience is in December.

While I have the opportunity, I want to accept Rodman's offer to answer Terry Thompson's question concerning whether God knows about Devil's Pool.

I'm not going to give a theistic nor an atheistic traditional answer. Beliefs can have a tendency to be somewhat limiting and I'm choosing to suspend belief and disbelief for the sake of maintaining an open mind. What is important to realize is that Devil's Pool is a wonderland for us mortals. The beauty of Devil's Pool reaches a crescendo with the understanding that we are creatures destined to die in a creation which is itself fleeting. As much as we may like to stress our self-importance with thoughts of our past and of our future, these self-aggrandizing misconceptions are largely fiction. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow never comes. We have the present moment alone, all else only theoretically. In the words of Achilles, "Every moment is precious because we are doomed. You will never be more beautiful than you are now." So, I'm sorry to skirt around the question like Sarah Palin but the answer is inconsequential because the sanctuary of Devils Pool Terry, is for us mortals.

Some photos from the day:

Thanks so much to Christine Hennessey for taking such great footage for us. You are awesome!!!!


People who have jumped in Devil's Pool since late November:

Andrew Gary Baker
Prather Ann
Jenny Adams
Nicole Palazzolo
Becca Mueller
Rodman Clay von Seldeneck
Pamela Anderson
Debbie Riley

honorable mention
Christine Hennessey
Cara Anderson

It was a very Merry Christmas at Devil's Pool

December 25th is a day for exchanging gifts, cheer, and good will. All of these things were in abundant supply as we trekked to Devil's Pool with our friends Prather Ann, her brother Franklin and his girlfriend Glenna. The weather itself was "gift" number 1. It was as if God had read the previous blog post (before I even wrote it, which I am sure he can do, that silly guy).

Glenna was the camera woman and as she was seated up on top of the Northern rock face Andrew Gary and I ascended the upper rocks to the West so as to present more visually delightful jumps into the beauitful pool. The higher jumps and the return of Prather Ann led to the "cheer" for me.

Then, right as we were getting ready to take our plunges, an extended family of 8 or so, out on a Christmas hike, came around the Western ridge and stood face to face with Andrew Gary in his fantastically floral bathing suit. Quite obviously, he asked, "You guys going for a swim?" This was an example of the "good will" the day was delivering.

Anyway, the video says it all much more beautifully than I can write it (thanks to Glenna!!!)

December 24th -- A little chilly

Just Andrew and I today...sans camera. (And although we do enjoy the group days, sometimes it is nice to get back to just being "two buds")

After a few days of temperatures that dropped to around 18 degrees in the evening here in Philadelphia, the weather warmed up a bit (Unfortunately we had not been able to get to the pool during those really cold days due to outside commitments). We were expecting the pool to be frozen over. To our surprise it was not...just a small frozen layer in the shallow end.

So, with the water extra cold we both jumped in and really enjoyed ourselves. The feeling you get after jumping into ice cold water can only be described by experiencing it. It transcends transcends may even transcend the finest poetry ever written (ie: "The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer" [Walt Whitman, Song of Myself]).

Hence, we will move on and answer another Devil's Pool question:


Terry Thompson from Philadelphia: "Does God know about Devil's Pool, and if so, what are his/her thoughts on it?"


Well Terry, considering that I do not believe in God, I will have to let Andrew get back to you on this question...however, in the event that I am wrong (which I quite often am) I will surmise what God, if such a divine being existed, might think about Devil's Pool considering that theoretically God knows and created everything and thus is well aware of Devil's Pool and is also aware of the blog "Devil's Pool is Really Cool."

God thinks that Devil's Pool is totally awesome!!! God went through a brief phase of almost exclusively ice swimming about 10,000 years ago. During what we call "The Ice Age." Since then he sometimes goes North for a dip during the Winter in places like Greenland, and South during the Summer to his outpost home on Antarctica. He has been plunging into cold water and creating beautiful places to do it for approximately 4.6 billions years!

Between 450 and 350 million years ago God said, "Hey, I want a really sweet place to cliff jump near the Wissahickon River (of course it was not called the Wissahickon back then, maybe He called it "The Semi Muddy Slowmoving River") that isn't as dirty as the Wissahickon."

He then worked his magic on the rock in the area and POOF!!! Devil's Pool was ready to be filled. I am sure it took a few days for the water to rise, but when it did, God was might pleased with his handiwork. I am sure that he/she/it still feels the same today. Sometimes I even think he smiles down on us with a beam of sunlight just at the right moment as we glide through the in the photo below:

So, the moral of my surmise is that God loves Devil's Pool and if you want God to smile on you, then you should come jump in with us. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and a Killer Kwanza.


So as much as it pains us to trek far from our beloved Devils Pool, Cara, Christine, Roddy and I made our way to the Cape May shoreline for a radical adventure.

Shortly after arriving at the Rod Mans splendid beachfront villa, the four of us walked out towards the water on a most picturesque day. Rain fell steadily, the air temp hit the upper 30's, and the sun hid behind a dense conglomeration of dark clouds. The ocean and the sky blended together with magnificent dreariness. We were reminded, "Every silver linings got a touch of grey" and I thought to myself, "Kinda suits you anyway."

Due to the hard rain we did not capture video of this first expedition, but I speak for Roddy as well when I say that Christine and Cara proved their mettle by resolutely entering the clamorous waters and coming out all the stronger for it. Roddy and I enjoyed the change of scenery hitting the ocean not only on this occasion but again at dusk. Wonderful.

We all were greeted in the morn by brighter skies (allowing for video) and by cooler temps. We were now now freezing, literally. A daunting task lay ahead but the four of us headed for the edge of the earth and determinedly immersed ourselves in the chilling waters.

My three amigos agree the experience was a rewarding one but we are always excited to return to our bitter cold, inviting Devils Pool! You should come with us next time we go. Roddy and I will be making the plunge the next three days (12/24,25,&26) with various friends each day. We would be all too happy to bring you along. Let us know when you'll be joining us.

December 18th - Devil's Pool is Really Cool written up on

So...this morning I awoke to a text message from Andrew saying that our little blog had been written up on

This happened thanks to Andrew Gary Baker's astute brother Jude who apparently reads Philebrity and saw that they were looking for submissions to their "Places we can't understand" segment.

We are quite honored to have been written up, however, they simply call us "two buds," which kind of makes us feel a little gay about the whole thing to be perfectly frank. So...we need more people to come to Devil's Pool and make it not just something for "two buds."

Now don't get me wrong...this in no way should detract from the amazing courage and commitment of the four young ladies who have already joined us in our Devil's Pool Winter Wonderland. Nicole, Jenny, Prather Ann, and Becca, we salute you, and our new found Philebrity status is also your Philebrity status.

December 17th - A little more chilly, but twice as rewarding.

Just me and Andrew Gary Baker today. Temperature was around 44 degrees. There had been a snowfall the evening before so we brought the camera in hopes of getting some footage with snow cover, but alas the Gods of Eternal Warmth (who come to us each time we jump in) had another plan.

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.

December 14th - Post #2 - Written by Andrew Gary Baker

Hello to Rodman and all the "Devils Pool Is Really Cool" readership. I want to update all of us on todays gnarly adventure.

First things first however, Sean Kenney asks "When is the next sacrifice at the devil's pool?" Umm, Sean this is contingent upon the schedules of a few people, I will get back to you.

The temp today climbed to 44 degrees, 13 degrees warmer than yesterday air degrees wise. Shortly we will be able to report the water temp as well (we are currently working on this). Our dear friends Cara, Christine, and Nicole were along with Roddy and I. Nicole took the plunge!! I feel it is important for me to note that the newcomer is the most important person at Devils Pool. the initiation of the Devil's Pool virgin is inspirational for all involved and reminds us of who we were before Devil's Pool became a ceaseless source of beauty and peace in our own lives, thus Roddy's and my own devotion to Devil's Pool pilgrimages.

Cara, yesterday's camerawoman, offered bountiful encouragement as did Christine, today's camerawoman and apparent burgeoning commentator (Christine, I see Meet The Press in your future).

It is redundant but nonetheless true to say the experience was, amazing! The words do not come easily to describe the deliciousness of the process. Despite this fact, I'm going to give a brief account of my own pleasure to serve as a meager substitute until you come yourself for a wintery dip:

Poised for a dive above the waters on a cold blustery day I feel unconscious fears brimming to the surface of my physical being, unresolved tensions express themselves in bitter pangs of anxiety. I feel lonely and separated from the seemingly cold, hard world which surrounds, so full of residents disjointed by passionate feelings of ethnic superiority, passionate nationalism, fanatical religious ideologies etc. the differences between myself and others appear overwhelming, endless and I'm bewildered by it all. I summon the courage to let go of this captivating fear with a leap into an ever-inviting pool below. The water feels ice cold and exhilaration streams through my veins. Beneath the surface of Devil's Pool an extraordinary transformation is occurring, I am welcomed into an glorious realm of union with the waters flowing through the pool. As i climb out, my body may be shivering slightly, but it may not only be resulting from the frigid waters but also evidence of the boundless love i feel for the oneness of creation. As I depart with friends, I feel we are part of (rather than apart from) the encapsulating woods and maybe, just maybe, we can carry a bit of the serenity Devil's Pool has so freely given to us out into the surrounding world.

As much as the devilspool experience is an earthy celebration of the natural world we all are part of, it too is an indispensable ingredient of my spiritual practice.

Peace out, and before I forget, Sean, any free time upcoming?
Andrew Gary Baker