Swimming in Walden: Risks and Benefits

It is mid week and a strange quiet hangs over the pond. The mid summer heat wave has dispersed, disappearing sometime between dusk and dawn and taken with it the humidity so thick it clung to my skin like a million arms wrapped around me. For the second day now I precede my swim with a walk along the pond path, turning away from the main beach and “the wall,” a name given to the place where open water swimmers gather to leave their towels and shoes. Instead I head toward Red Cross Beach, past where the triangular red flags hang from vacant lifeguard towers and onto the trail which points me in the direction of Thoreau’s cabin site.
In my hurry to get into the water I typically do not think to walk along the path and yesterday when the humidity was a heavy coat over me I wished I had bought my water bottle. Today I have and I eagerly sip from it despite the drop in temperature from hot to pleasant. I am beginning to enjoy walking to the point before Thoreau’s Cove and seeing a different view of Walden when I launch myself into her waters. And as I realize later as I retrace my steps and return to my car, I am beginning to like the community of Walden goers who frequent the small beach which I usually only see from a distance as I lift my head to breathe on my swim across the long axis of the pond.

It is the higher levels of the enterococcus bacteria which were detected when the weekly testing was carried out on Tuesday which encourage me to walk toward the more secluded side of the pond and the caution the DCR has issued which led to the main beaches being closed.


I glide into the water today grateful I have come. Immediately I am soothed by the clear cool water and in my mind I begin to count, a meditation I adopt after speaking to a friend I stopped to talk to as I was walking to the point. I am aware of the risk yet as I swam from the main beach on Tuesday when we were all ignorant of it, I can only think that being away from the populated area of the pond the water must be cleaner here. It was probably after the heat and humidity of the holiday weekend for Independence Day when the beaches were crowded from 10 am through dusk that the bacteria levels rose.
Our use of the pond coupled with the weather conditions or alternatively extreme torrential downpours when the run off dumps debris into the pond.

As I muster my strength for the last aspect of my swim today I push against the waves as the wind pushes them into me. I turn out from Ice Fort Cove with the main beach and beach house a tiny beacon in front of me and laugh at the logic which bought me to the far end of the pond. That same water being pushed into my face from the main beaches as on Tuesday I waded into.



2 thoughts on “Swimming in Walden: Risks and Benefits

  1. Welcome back from Down Under Liz. Could not wait for your next posting and really liked this one. I’m looking ahead to another long day of stressful “important”meeting and being in a stupid office all day….. Imagine being able to go to Walden when I want to? But the wonderful cold water keeps me in the game, through the emotional turbulence of working with others and not being able to leave all day… I am launching a new vocational website/blog as a declaration of my future independence. It is hard work and at times scary and confusing. I hope it can half as good as yours! To peace, serenity, and Walden Woods. Mark


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