Swimming Holes of the Klamath

"It's twenty-five miles west of here--that's not far by local standards," Tanya told me, announcing a plan to seek a new swimming spot. We headed out in her van for Dillon Creek, somewhere past the hamlet of Happy Camp on Highway 96. At the Happy Camp post office, I discovered the town's totem, as witnessed by this sculpture affixed to the front of the building. Later in the summer, the town holds a festival called Big Foot Days, complete with a football-style mascot dressed as the obligatory Neanderthal, and everyone else in cowboy or Indian wear, depending on their personal identity, alternately watching the parade and riding in it--on horseback, in antique automobiles, on motorcyles, in pick-up trucks. Some residents parade several times on different conveyances. Later on, the town talent show and drinking contest proceeds rowdily around the park pavilion.

Twenty-five miles do slip by easily when all of it is forest, river, sky, and girl talk. Along Dillon Creek an entire tent city, complete with collapsable furniture and barbeques, lined the road. The clear, cold creek, dammed to pool water for a gold mining operation a few miles upstream, proved an ideal place for young children to play, with both deep and shallow areas, and rock ledges over the deepest parts from which to leap. Here mingled in harmony families from around the world--and Kuruk Indians who had populated the area for centuries.

Trail to the Dillon Creek dam

Deeper waters and the rock ledges

Kuruk children playing in the shallow end of the pool

Tanya comes in for a landing after a marathon swim

On our way home, we paused to admire a river rafting launch at Coon Creek on the Klamath River.

Looking east from the Coon Creek river access

Looking west from the Coon Creek river access

When we returned, Kyle reported that he was awakened from his nap by the dogs barking and ran outside to see why. Across the river, two lovestruck teenage bears splashed and played in and out of the water. "It's a little early for that," he told me, "usually they mate in August."

Tanya and Kyle's front yard, with the Klamath River running through it



Motor boat on the river


Every day in the summer, dozens of rafting and kayaking enthusiasts paddle down
the Klamath, through dreamy doldrums and riveting rapids. The leader
of the group on the far side of the river is having a chat with Tanya.