I’m not in this picture; this was taken a couple of years before I started high school. I knew some of these boys as seniors when I was a freshman. But it brings back memories.
The memories are somewhat of a forbidden fruit variety. This fork has surface water only occasionally in the spring. The broken limestone of Missouri otherwise allows the creek to have flow largely below the surface. There’s only a couple of spots where enough water accumulates to make a swimming hole. This was the closest one, and about a 45 minute to an hour hike away, depending on how much mud you had to hike through (because if it hadn’t been raining heavily, there’d not be enough water).
And you had to hike in. Even now, 50 years later, there’s only a gravel road into this state forest, and it’s nowhere near this location. So this was something you might do once or twice, when all the conditions were right on a Sunday afternoon when there wasn’t school or chores.
There’s the iconic rock. There’s the notion of wading and swimming where you really weren’t supposed to. There’s tadpoles everywhere in the water. There’s the idea that you’d been in civilization, and were going to hike back to it, but right here it was just you and the other guys with a bunch of water, rocks, trees and mud.