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Christopher Burns Christopher Burns
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Cool off

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After a cold, dark winter, summer is just what we need. But many people enjoy the summer from in front of the AC, emerging periodically to venture to the grocery store or work (if it has AC). Hey, we all end up there eventually, because frankly, the weather is hardly perfect. Too hot, too cold, never just right. But there is an alternative. After months of beating the cold with heat, it's time to beat the heat.

And what better way than a swim.

Every town has its secret swimming holes. Some are idyllic stretches of slow-moving rivers and tire swings. Others may be tepid leech pools out of which the earliest life-forms crawled. In either case, they will not be found in any AAA brochure, because these cool spots are on a need-to-know basis. Handed down one generation to another, you'll find the spot down side roads and hid from prying eyes.

A personal favorite is Marsh Stream in Winterport. Trips out to the more popular beaches in the Downeast region were few, and not many people I knew had pools. So, like fellow Winterporters, I swam in Marsh Stream. For many summers this was the go-to spot when boredom set in or the heat grew unbearable, whichever came first.

The swimming hole is on the upper branch of Marsh Stream. Sitting below the falls, the main pool is roughly the size of two or three of your neighbors' pools (and not one of those plastic above ground deals). The water flows gently below the falls, though after extended periods of rain, the current can pick up. And thanks to years of erosion, the pool is practically rock free, ensuring plenty of space to swim, as well as some jumping into the deep end. With a little effort, a crevice can be found where you can sit behind the falls. A bit of a tight fit, but fun nonetheless.

Don't feel like swimming? The many large rocks deposited above the pool are great for sunning and letting your feet dangle in the water. Little fish, mostly sun fish and occasional trout, also use the pool as a spot to chill out, and fishing can be done. Pine Island is worth exploring, and for setting aside shoes and extra clothes.

Directions

The Marsh Stream swimming hole is located on the Stream Road in Winterport. From the center of town where 139 meets 1A, head towards Frankfort and Stream Road will come up on the right after one mile. Once on Stream Road, the entrance to Marsh Stream is half a mile down on the left. Look for a pull-off with a few large rocks obstructing the trail. From here, follow the trail and at a clearing the trail will continue towards the left and begins to descend. An old campfire pit greets you before the final leg of the walk. Here the trail makes a sharp descent all the way to the water. Once there you can store your items on the rocks or ford to Pine Island.

Caution

Remember to bring a sturdy pair of shoes for the walk to and from the swimming hole. The trail can be steep in places. Bug spray is a must during the summer to fend of mosquitoes, black flies and ticks. The current can change after periods of rain, so be mindful before making the trip. No lifeguards are present at the swimming hole, so always exercise caution and common sense when visiting. Check for rocks and depth if you plan to jump. And always watch your footing if crossing the stream on the rocks. Cooling off is fun. Getting hurt is not.

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