After the PCT… wondrous benefits of soaking in Hot Springs!

In response to a couple requests, I’ve decided to follow our PCT hike series with a string of new blogs which may inspire a traveling spirit in our audience. 

After nearly completing the PCT, Ryan and I settled down in southern Oregon in his A-frame off-grid cabin for a couple months. A common problem amongst fellow through-hikers is what they call “post-trail depression”; describing the decrease in motivation and mood due to the intense adaptation that comes with returning to “real life”. If you’re struggling to grasp the concept, just imagine hiking an average of 20 miles a day and suddenly, you stop. Not only do you stop hiking an insane amount, but you also jump into a 9-5 chair or a fixed workplace, which not only shocks your system physically, but impacts you emotionally more than you could imagine. 

Luckily, settling down in our off-grid cabin wasn’t too big of a change. There was a lot of work to do on the property, and we were constantly outside just as we had been before. We had escaped our post-trail depression and made the change into “real life” smoothly. With jobs lined up in Montana for the winter season, all we had to do was wait and get as much done as possible in the meantime. Staining the deck, sawing down trees, cutting back bushes, fencing the property in, renting goats to help us clear out the brush, the list went on and we loved it. 

Our first four weeks or so there, our temps were cool in the mornings and evenings and hot during the day, just as we expected. One day it was 80 degrees in the afternoon, and the next day we woke up to snow covering the ground. There have been seasons that seem to change overnight, but this time it actually did. We had an outdoor “solar shower” set up that quickly froze over, and our “compost toilet” became frigid at all times. Our generator went from running a few hours each night to running 10 hours each day. Our planting phase had to come to an abrupt end, and the third coat on the deck would have to wait until spring. 

Among other things the cold weather brought us, our favorite was probably the cue of the “hot spring” season. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend finding some hot springs with snow all around them (or just cold air if you’re too far from snow) and soaking for as long as you can. Apart from being incredibly beautiful, soaking in sulfur hot springs has been proven to improve strength, result in less morning stiffness, increase walking ability, and decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain in joints, particularly in the neck and back. There are many other health benefits that accompany soaking in these natural sulfur hot springs, but some haven’t been officially backed up scientifically yet. On top of soaking, the cold exposure when you get out is also good for your veins and health.

After our first couple days of snow, we took a trip up to Paulina Lake, Oregon and hiked out to the springs. We had never been here before and the weather was absolutely horrendous. Constant strong winds with off-and-on snowing, just looking at the rough waves of the lake was enough to tell you it was a storm of some sort. Hiking from the parking lot to the opposite side of the lake, the weather remained this way until we arrived. Once there, the dark clouds stayed but the weather drastically improved. Little to no wind and less violent hello’s from the lake, we approached the shoreline where a few other people were sitting in the black sand. Straining our necks looking around for the springs, we quickly realized the shoreline was the springs. An unforgettable experience, we dug ourselves a pit and with each handful of sand that we moved, hot water seeped in and filled the spot. Eventually, we had a perfect people-sized pit that we soaked in for a couple hours. 

On the way back to the cabin, we stopped by another hot springs location. Typically, people find a way to tap into naturally occurring hot spring water, and pipe it into man-made pools for health-related soaking open to the public. Natural hot springs like the ones at the lake are hard to find and typically require long hikes to access them. The funneling of the water into pools seems to be the preferred method of many. The place we stopped to camp that night had a very large outdoor pool steaming with nice, hot water. We arrived early enough to be in the pool at sunset and enjoyed watching the pastel sky change colors every minute. Once the sun disappeared and the dark started to creep in, I started to notice strange fast movements in the air around us. Squinting my eyes, I began to realize that there were dozens of bats dive-bombing the top of the water! The warm water had apparently attracted numerous insects and it was a familiar all-out feast for the bats. Ryan wasn’t too excited at the idea of swimming with bats and moved into a smaller and hotter pool while I swam with bats until they finished. 

These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are often not posted online, they are usually not spoken of or read about because they surprise each and every one of us on our own personal journeys. I encourage each of you to go out and soak up some new experiences! 

If you want more information from Fox News on benefits of sulfur hot springs: