My Winthrop counterpart, Ashley Lodato, did a great job of promoting the un-official Methow River cleanup day Saturday. Beyond the trash and refuse tossed and bounced from unsuspecting tubers who hit a rapid or rock and lose their lot to the current (because no one would intentionally use the river as a trash can, right?), specialty items have a way of finding secret hiding places in the river. In fact, the river holds a treasure trove of collectable and useful items.
We have found fishing poles, paddles and sandals (whole pairs strapped together), diving masks, and full beers. Call us the river pirates. We don’t disclose where we find our booty.
Speaking of the river, the flotillas of tubers are an endless source of conversation and great for people-watching. It’s a good dose of socially distant fun, and you can see all kinds of body types, ages, abilities, T-shirts with obscene to absurd messages, funny hats, and tattoos in a couple hours at nearly any hole along the river. Antics around getting in and out of tubes, navigating eddies, and the variety of ingenuity in cooler contraptions, strapped-on speakers, and waterproofing of valuables abound. One the most ingenious contraptions I’ve witnessed were brooms used as paddles for tubes. I recently saw this with my youngest at the Plumber Hole. Or is it the 420 Hole, or Toilet Hole?
The name of the river holes get to another topic altogether, colloquial place names. The hole I am referring to is the popular take-out/ put-in located between Winthrop and Twisp below Rising Eagle Road. It is the site of a former hill that was removed by the DOT about a decade ago when nefarious on-goings were manifesting behind the mounded hill during the late evenings. Perhaps that’s the legacy of the name, the 420 hole. (If you are unsure as to the meaning of the 420, look it up on http://www.urbandictionary.com).
In any case, it has at least three names. The logical link between plumber and toilet is obvious, and it probably doesn’t need a linguist to figure it out. But its origin story is debated. Some say it on the former Plummer property, which translated to “Plumber.” Or is it the other way around. I was told it is called the “toilet hole” because of the way it swirls. So, which came first, “plumber” or “toilet” hole? One may never know.
Another notoriously confused colloquial hole name is Halterman’s Hole. For years, I thought it was called “Holderman’s” or “Hollerman’s.” The true name, Halterman’s Hole, owes its origin to Emery Halterman, the long-time butcher of Twisp who built the slaughterhouse we now refer to as Thomson’s Custom Meats. Halterman’s Hole is located south of Twisp, 1 mile up the Twisp-Carlton Road. As of late, it has become quite popular for daytime river camps, as apparently people think it’s okay to drive on the river cobble and park all day, despite the signs stating, “ no parking beyond this point.” It is an officially operated Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fishing access site, though for some reason no parking pass is required — perhaps because there’s not a potty. Which gets me to another hole, called “Potty Hole,” located downriver above Black Canyon. And then there’s “meat hole,” which is the hole below the slaughterhouse accessed from the river via floatation devices or by the cobble beach from the highway bridge.
WDFW hosts a series of fishing access sites along the river with names that are cryptic — for instance “Avery,” “Bridge One,” and “Bendstan.” I have never heard these names, but perhaps avid fishermen are more attuned to the official names. WDFW has an online catalog of local access sites that’s quite handy, however, regular users of the river have all kinds of names for these spots that have evolved over time or harken back to a previous legacy, unbeknownst to current users. Send me your insights on local river place names, colloquial, official, or native or otherwise.