The Anchor River flows in the Anchor Point State Recreation Area on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023 in Anchor Point, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)

Creek walking in cool summer

Growing up spending my summers in one outdoor activity camp or another, my favorite days of all were the ones when the instructor told us to bring a towel and our water shoes.

That meant we were going on a creek walk and would be spending the day taking refuge from sweltering heat in the shady, cool expanse of some unnamed — at least to me — stream and exploring the part of nature I loved best. A self-proclaimed water rat, I preferred to spend most of my time not on dry land, but wading through tiny, shallow creeks, swimming in rivers and ponds, or playing in the neighborhood pool if none of the aforementioned options were available.

The camp instructors often pretended that the creek walks were great educational opportunities — which wasn’t untrue, there was plenty of nature to see and experience and learn about — but more often than not everyone devolved into a soaked, shrieking, playful mess perhaps five minutes after getting our toes wet. The instructors did little to derail us, as long as we were safe and not being too rough; there’s only so many days you can successfully wrangle 15 to 20 adolescents into carefully planned activities and itineraries in the midst of boiling summers, after all.

I brought my towel but no water shoes; they gave me blisters, so I either wore flip flops or went barefoot. The heat of the day warmed the water nicely so that we wouldn’t freeze but could still find relief. Trees lining the banks above us reached their arms down and we reached up to brush our fingers against their trailing, leafy branches. Water striders skimmed the creek’s surface, darting around our insect-bitten knees. More than once, someone would slip on the moss-covered rocks beneath the water and shrieks would echo off the slate walls that rose up on either side of the creekbed. We would take broken pieces of slate rock and draw our names on dry stones; the slate crumbled like the worst quality pencil graphite, coating our fingers blue but leaving the marks designed as we’d intended.

There’s so much lovely nostalgia carried in those memory-creeks.

I recently dipped my toes again into that feeling when I took a day to visit the river in our local recreation area. I can’t say this river feels the same as the streams of my youth, but there are enough similarities — the mossy stone riverbed, the color of the water just bordering on the green I habitually expect water to be, the greenery that lies along the shoreline and drapes itself over the water’s edge — that my want for nostalgia is satisfied.

I am not barefoot this time; even in the height of summer, the air and water are too cold for me to wade in without a second thought like I once did. I wear waterproof boots, which admittedly help me keep my feet better on the slippery riverbed, and hide my phone in the pocket of my rain jacket in case I slip after all.

The river washes away the stress of the day, of the week, of adulthood as I walk down its back. The sounds, smells and sights are almost-familiar enough that I feel as a child again, and if it were any warmer and I didn’t have my phone in my jacket pocket, I might just tip myself over and see what the river looks like from the under-surface.

Another day, perhaps. I didn’t bring a towel with me, either.

More in Sports

Kenai Central's Kate Wisnewski and Ellsi Miller put up a block against Soldotna on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Tuesday volleyball: Kenai tops Soldotna; Nikiski defeats Homer

The visiting Kenai Central volleyball team defeated Soldotna 25-15, 25-19, 19-25 and… Continue reading

Nikiski's Everett Chamberlain, Lynn Deveer, Seth Payne and Oliver Parrish celebrate the touchdown run of Parrish on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, at Nikiski Middle-High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski tops Eielson, advances to 9-man state final

Thanksgiving came early Saturday at Nikiski Middle-High School. Nikiski defeated Eielson 40-6… Continue reading

Kenai girls, SoHi boys swimmers capture Seward Invite

The Kenai Central girls and Soldotna boys swim teams won Seward Invitational… Continue reading

Kenai volleyball takes 2nd at West Spiketacular

The Kenai Central volleyball team finished second at the West Spiketacular on… Continue reading

Soldotna football wins 18th straight conference title

The visiting Soldotna football team defeated Eagle River 55-7 on Saturday to… Continue reading

Region 3 cross country: Seward girls, Ingalls take titles on home course

The Seward girls cross-country team warmed up for the defense of their… Continue reading

Kenai Central quarterback Zeke Yragui throws against Kodiak on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Kodiak High School in Kodiak, Alaska. (Photo by Derek Clarkston/Kodiak Daily Mirror)
Mid Alaska: Kenai football blows past Kodiak; Barrow tops Homer

The visiting Kenai Central football team defeated Kodiak 49-6 on Friday in… Continue reading

Windigo sweep Brown Bears

The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears were swept decisively by the Wisconsin… Continue reading

Beeson, Aldridge win 4th Chainwreck Cyclocross Series race

Brian Beeson and Morgan Aldridge won the fourth race of the Chainwreck… Continue reading

Most Read