As I climbed swiftly out of my little crevasse I smiled, looking forward to going swimming in the other swimming hole. My mind quickly formed a map of the area.
Marr Lake Trail joined the Bruce Trail at a stone beach west of the Grotto. Then, as you walk east along the Bruce, the stones become more and more square, until you are scrambling over huge limestone boulders. As the trail heads upwards there are more and more people, until you arrive at the Grotto.
The Grotto is the main tourist attraction. After descending a 20 foot rock wall you come to the huge gaping entrance to the cavern. At first it is dark, but once you are inside you notice that the water is shining an unearthly colour of blue. This is because there is also an underwater entrance to the cave, a long tunnel reaching out into Indians Head Cove. This is the most fantastic place to swim in the world. The light coming up from the bottom makes it feel like you are perhaps upside down, like you have entered an alternate reality. As you dive down, down, down, as far as you can safely go, and look up, you realize you have come a very little way compared to the distance to the bottom. You stop and look at the wall beside you. The same limestone ledges and wavy swirls are there, continued from the dry land. You have just moved further back in time. You are now looking at history that is a few centuries, or millennia, older. It seems to continue downwards for ages and ages and mind-boggling ages. Suddenly reality hits and you must pop back up again for a breath. As you climb back out of the cave you wonder at the mystery and the beauty of the Grotto. Perhaps it is the strange blue light, or maybe the soft gentle waves, or the cool damp air that makes it such an amazing and memorable place. Or perhaps your mind is oxygen-depraved and so cold that thought processing has ceased.
After a short walk on slanted limestone slabs and a climb down a nicely cut staircase of rock you arrive at Indian Head Cove, where the waves roll in, softer some days than others, but rarely still. Most of the people are on the hard rocks watching, the water is too frigid to be enjoyable, but there are many brave young souls diving and swimming. It is called Indian Head Cove because if you look to the east you can see the silhouette of a noble warrior's head.
Then there is a peninsula of the same limestone, a towering cliff. There is a spot where you can lay and peer down 100 meters, straight into deep blue water that must be at least 200 meters deep. On the other side is another cove where it is possible to go swimming too. Slightly more rugged, and with far less people, it is my favorite place to swim. There are many flat rocks surrounded by pillars of limestone reaching out like peninsulas, dividing up the turf. This was where I was headed.
I followed the trail through the cool forest across the peninsula, and a few minutes later I was climbing down a steep mossy rock face, the rocks once again forming a staircase between two solid faces. I found a dry ledge back from the water and left my bags there. As I walked to the edge of the crystalline coolness, I noticed some hastily dropped bags, contents spread over the ground. I looked around for the owners, but there were none. Disgraceful, I thought to myself, the way some people treat their equipment! I shook my head and continued toward the alluring water. There were a few people splashing and laughing to my right, but there looked like a nice place to swim straight in front of me. I sat down on a boulder and proceeded to untie my shoes.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a little flash of movement. I glanced up and saw those same two guys climbing down the rock staircase. I'll just ignore them and maybe they won't see me, was my first response. I reached over and untied my other shoe.
When I look up I see the two of them gathered around the messy pile of luggage. Surprisingly, I felt shock. Somehow my mind had formed the image that these two, especially the older brother, must be good, conscientious hikers. My first response was to stare curiously, but I pulled my eyes away.
I stared out over the water for a couple moments, but I found myself irresistibly drawn to look back. I glanced up, straight into his brown eyes. Our eyes connected for a drawn-out moment. Then the awkwardness of the situation hit me. I blushed, quickly withdrew my eyes, and stumbled away.
It was in this movement, and the aftershock of the glance we shared, that it hit me how very good looking he was. I turned around one of the limestone pillars and sat up against it, giving myself time to calm down so that I could think rationally. I evaluated my situation. Here I was, hiding behind a limestone pillar, without my shoes or my bag, and very much attracted to the guy out there. I guess I'm not going anywhere soon. I have no chance of making him like me with my disability.
Suddenly I realized that my decision to flee had already ruined my chances. During that ill-advised movement he would have seen that I am missing half of my right arm.