Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Woody's Hot Spring

It seems that the weirdest people go to hot springs (and I guess Romy and I are included in that bunch). Now, let me tell you about just one example. After hanging out for the weekend at the Trainspotting II VW Campout in the Hallsted National Forest Campground, we headed over to Woody's Hot Spring which is just two miles down the road from the campground. After parking right off the road, we were eager to go check it out. The springs are privately owned, but the owners allow public use with a reasonable $2.50 donation per person.

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The rules posted at Woody's.

An iron ranger collects the $2.50 at the wooden gate, and its a short walk down an overgrown trail and over a small bridge to the riverbank where the hot springs are piped into cemented rock pools. There is a larger pool which has crystal clear water, slightly above 100 degrees. Then there is a smaller pool which can fit two people in it and the water is a bit milky. We were joined by one larger guy, who was sun bathing when we got there, and a couple from Colorado who were on their way out when we arrived.

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The gate to the hot springs, where the yellow iron ranger collects donations.

Now this is really where the story begins about the weird people you often meet at hot springs. We noticed that the rules posted up near the gate looked very freshly painted, and they actually were. Supposedly, at Woody's it was always clothing optional, but recently the owners started posting rules because there was some trouble recently. Now it is clothing optional only after dark. This type of restriction usually comes as bad news for regular hot springers, who love to go naked, so what we saw next was not really so surprising but it still, nevertheless, was a little strange! The man sunbathing was still technically following the rules, but just barely! He had on a black mesh string bikini bottom for men. It was literally a string that went up his butt crack, and then a mesh (very see-thru) support for his private parts. It didn't strike me at first, but then I thought, where in the world did he buy that? Did he make it himself?

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The tub at Woody's Hot Spring.

Anyways, after getting over it, we started having a conversation with him. He was local, so it was really interesting to hear what he knew about the hot spring. He told us that each tub has a different source. That's why one tub is clear and the other tub has milky waters. The milky color comes from the high calcium content (who knows if that's true but its seems plausible). The sources were actually higher up the hillside and on the other side of the road. He knew a guy who could tell what mineral and metal content was in each hot spring by the way the water tasted!

Woody's Hot Spring
Romy in the high calcium tub.

Another piece of information he told us was that the tub we were sitting in was actually an old septic tank! Wow! I guess it was really cleaned out well, I hope anyways. He also told me about the numerous times that the previous tubs which were there were washed out when the river got high. So I guess that's why there is now an old septic tank there.

Woody's Hot Spring
Me in the hot spring tub at Woody's.

Well, apart from the choice of swimsuit the man had on, he was really nice and not that weird, I guess. Romy thought he was gay at first, but I never got any vibes that he was gay. He just seemed very determined to be naked yet still follow the rules that were posted! It made the trip to Woody's unforgettable! And no. . . we didn't take a picture!

This was also our first time that we went to a hot spring when it was warm outside. It was about 75 degrees and sunny, so we couldn't sit in the hot water for too long without getting warm. But luckily the river was ice cold, its source being snowmelt from the mountains. When we got too warm, we just jumped in the river, which cooled us off really fast. Then it felt nice to get back into the hot water. We saw a family of Canada Geese swim up the river and we watched them from the pools. There were baby geese and a couple of adult ones. They stayed near the shore and were pecking in the high grasses, looking for food.


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