We got an inch and a half of rain which raised the level of this stream by four feet, and turned it to chocolate milk. Three days later the water wasn’t as murky and the water level dropped but the flow was still greater than what I was used to at this spot.
The water was hazy but clear enough to see the bottom. I hung onto edges of boulders as I crossed the rapid to the far shore, and felt like a leaf in a hurricane. Sand gathered in large mounds in the lee of shoreline rock, and a few minnows lazily drifted from their protective eddies. The higher velocity water rearranges the parts of the bottom it can and tornados of sand and rock swirl in eddies behind boulders. The water has uprooted some Asian clams from the bottom and piled them with a mound of pebbles behind a rock. Part of the bank is cut deeper and more tree roots are exposed. I watch the river shape itself as I creep upstream. There is a feeling of permanence that comes with watching a river. Rain falls, rivers rise, water wears away rock. This stream was here long before I was, and it will be here long after I am gone. In the mean time I get to share some moments in its current and I feel completely free as I drift downstream through the rapid, entirely at the mercy of the water. It’s reassuring and life affirming to know that there are things much larger than I at work in the world, and I get to play a small role. Most times snorkeling is about watching life. This trip was about watching the immortal processes that make life in streams possible.