Pleasant Lake, Elkins Beach, Wilmot NH
On my first day Jesse met us after work and we went for a swim on Pleasant beach without thinking too much of it. Except they could both see how much I loved the water. I explained that I would swim in just about every lake in New Hampshire if I could. Except that I would need a while - there are 944 of them, and quite a few of those are private. We simply decided to get into as much water as logistics and my body would allow us to for my last week of the trip. We called it The Lakes Project.
That night I suddenly realised what this meant. The darkest, lowest point of the trip had been in late February. The days when I was travelling with my family and staying near Lake Taupo in the middle of North Island in New Zealand (though I was still on holiday - nothing of this story is ever that bad). There were a couple of days when I so wanted to swim with everyone but didn’t have the strength to walk the 5 metres or so from the car to the beach. And I just sat there sobbing, wondering how I could get myself out of his hole, with no idea how or when this would ever end. I did work on managing my movement enough back then to get in the water a few times - but the point was it was that hard. And here I am now getting in and out of lakes without even thinking about it. A week of wild, watery abundance. Here it all is....
Sculptured Rocks, Groton, NH
A fairy glen of dancing light and emerald water. Explored up and down the river with my reef shoes on and swam upstream through a tall chasm of rocks to bathe under a waterfall.
Newfound Lake, Wellington State Beach, Bristol, NH
We arrived at this beach in the late afternoon. The wind was up but it was almost just us. Newfound Lake is said to be the cleanest lake in New Hampshire, over 4000 hectares wide and fed by 8 different springs. Both the wind and the water were cold. A bright, fresh water sea of a lake.
It was so cold in fact that I changed in Jesse’s winter swimmer's coat (Jesse will repeatedly crack open the ice for a swim all year round) and wore it still shivering, all the way home.
Little Lake Sunapee, Bucklin Beach, New London, NH
These were the rafts I dived off as a child (now no diving allowed). Great swim, wind also freezing.
Kezar Lake, North Sutton, NH
I really, really wanted to swim at this moment, despite the cold. But didn’t - because I had climbed a mini mountain the day before (!! see previous post) and needed to wait and see what the full effects would be.
Webster Lake, Franklin, NH
Didn't feel great or that much like swimming this day so just a quick dip. I always find the water still brings everything to life however you feel when you get in.
Bradley Lake, Andover, NH
We spent a few hours sat on paddle boards with a friend before swimming off Blueberry Island on my second day here. No photographic evidence as Lindsey’s phone was offered up to the Lake Gods as her canoe tipped over while she tried to take a picture.
This was my last evening with Jesse. Back on Bradley Lake, we quietly slid the canoe onto the still evening water from another lake house Jim is working on. We passed an hour sitting in silence on the water, watching the occasional Loon swim by. A gently bobbing meditation as the light changed. As we pulled back to shore, I knew it would be crazy to swim because of the cold that had started to deep to my bones again. And that is the discipline of CFS - not so much what you will yourself to do as much as the number of times you make the choice not to.
Highland Lake, East Andover NH
Last swim before my flight from Boston. Water warm enough to swim for a decent length of time. This is the beach where all the local swimming lessons happen in the summer.
I've reached the conclusion that swimming or even simply submerging myself in wild water, be it lakes, rivers or the sea has played a key part in my recovery. I could go into the technicalities; perhaps it helps to calm the nervous system again. Above all, it connects me far more deeply with nature, puts everything into perspective and makes me feel totally alive. Wherever I end up back in the UK I hope its something I can make a normal part of any week.
An ME/CFS Thriver