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Standing on a limestone ledge and staring into Texas’ strangest swimming hole, I remembered my mother’s warning, “Don’t jump unless you know what’s underneath you.” I wasn’t completely sure what was beneath the surface, but with a crowd of cheering onlookers, chickening out was not an option. I held my breath and braced for the unknown.
This is the thrill of Jacob’s Well, a spring-fed swimming hole near Wimberley that’s been attracting visitors for centuries. The hole itself measures less than 20 feet across but looks like it plummets to the center of the Earth. In reality, it descends into a series of caverns that extend a mile back into the Earth. Every minute of every day, the Edwards Aquifer pushes a river of fresh water out of the cave and feeds Cypress Creek.
As I completed the plunge, my only thought was, “Wow! That’s cold.” The spring water holds at a chilly 68 degrees year-round. Once I regained my composure, I could appreciate the fact that I was floating above what seemed like a bottomless pit of water. I had to see what was down there.
I grabbed my goggles, pointed my head toward the bottom and started kicking. I could feel the mass of water pushing against me with its invisible current, and the water was so clear that I could see every detail of the algae-covered walls and the ledge 25 feet down. With every bit of strength and air that I had, I propelled myself to the stone shelf and from there could see the small opening to the deeper and darker caves.
That was enough to freak me out, so I quickly turned and swam to the sunshine and safety of the surface. It was time for another jump.
Chet Garner shares his Texplorations as the host of The Daytripper on PBS.