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With the onset of the spring snowmelt, the area serves up prime-time Whitewater rafting. Rafters flock to two rivers in particular: the forest-hemmed Skykomish and the wide-open, sundrenched Wenatchee.

What is “the forest-hemmed”?

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    Please don't post a snippet of text and nothing else in your question. At a bare minimum, repeat the question in the question body (don't ask in the title only), and put the quoted text in a "quote box," with the words in question in bold print.
    – J.R.
    Nov 7, 2018 at 21:18
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    You are not parsing the phrase correctly. It is "the Skykomish" (like "the Don" or "the Danube") and forest-hemmed is an adjective modifying Skykomish, like sun-drenched.
    – TimR
    Nov 7, 2018 at 21:31

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A hem is the edge of something. Originally and most commonly it refers to the fold of fabric at the edge of a piece of clothing that's folded around to prevent fraying.

By extension, the term hemmed in has come to mean being surrounded, most often by enemies or something else that restricts one's freedom to move. "I want to move house, but I'm hemmed in by debt".

The forest-hemmed Skykomish would refer to the river being enclosed, surrounded, and restricted by forest - that is, trees running right down to the bank, preventing the river's course from winding and making it relatively difficult to walk along the edge of the river. This is being contrasted with the Wenatchee river, which is described as "wide-open", suggesting that it runs through grasslands or other open plains.

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  • I don't think the river's course if being prevented "from winding" Typically, a river can be said to wind through a forest, though.
    – Lambie
    Nov 7, 2018 at 20:57
  • @Lambie Trees growing on the banks of a river help to stabilise the banks and reduce meandering.
    – Werrf
    Nov 7, 2018 at 21:00
  • The image here is that the river has a hem of trees along its banks. Just like a dress has hem.
    – Lambie
    Nov 7, 2018 at 22:08

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