On Saturday we took a rest day at Swains Lock campground after our 15-mile trip from Edwards Ferry over the Seneca Breaks. We thought sitting around the campground all day might be boring – but wow, were we in for a surprise.
Spending Saturday at Swains was one of the coolest things we’ve done on our whole trip! Since Swains is an easy access point for the river and the canal, it draws people from an incredible variety of cultures and interests.
We saw many familiar towpath scenes – walkers, bikers, birdwatchers, fishermen, scout groups, and through-hikers.
Down by the river, in the campground and picnic area, the action stayed lively all day long. Big families arrived with lavish meals, shouting happily in Spanish, Korean, Hindi, and many other languages we didn’t recognize.
A group of young guys got there early and set up camp, then spent the day boating and fishing. In the evening their girlfriends arrived for a big group campout.
Our next-door neighbor was an activist from Tucson, Arizona, who was camping at Swains to attend 3 big marches in Washington DC: the climate rally, the workers march, and the May Day protests.
A nature photography class from REI set up shop on a picnic table, then wandered around before sunset, taking photos of the wildflowers and the river.
The most amazing thing we saw was at campsite 5, a riverfront site. It had 3 or 4 empty-looking tents. Then around 5 pm, the people started arriving. And arriving. Like, 25 or 30 people! Many were carrying rolled-up mats. They weren’t dressed like campers. We thought, wow, are they going to sleep all night on those thin mats? We wondered if it was an after-party for the People’s Climate March.
But no. It was a yoga class! An entire huge yoga class right there at the campsite, facing the river. It went on for at least 2 hours, through the sunset till after dark. A few people stayed to camp, but most of them went home.
We asked a couple people what it was. They said it was a “Life Time Yoga” class. Many didn’t seem to realize that their class was taking place in a campground. One woman was doing her poses next to a tree, embracing it and leaning on it – maybe not knowing that the tree and the ground beneath it were completely covered in poison ivy!
The strangest part was the next morning. At 7:30 am, we started seeing people with mats walking past our tent, peering curiously inside. They were back! It was another 2-hour morning class at campsite 5.
After being first amused, then annoyed, then amused again by the yoga people, we realized that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life at Swains. People from everywhere just come to the river. They always have. They always will. And we’re so lucky to have places like Swains, that make it easy for all of us to go down to the river whenever we need renewal.