Best soaked under the setting sun.
Settled into the impressive peaks of the Eastern Sierras, which include the tallest mountain in the continental United States, is a valley littered with ancient hot springs. They are markers for the prehistoric volcanoes that came before them…and of a welcome to weary men and women traveling the long stretch of mountainous road we found ourselves on.
They told us to make a left at the green church but after a stretch of pitted dirt road, we began to feel shammed. The wide-open land in front of us was barren save for the low, frost covered and lifeless looking sagebrush. At Hopes End, though, each dirt road and wrong turn is worth exploring…
And, so, we made it to the trailhead. Hesitant to open the door to the cold outside, 10 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact, we lingered in the parked car. At first sight, the path before us looked to lead nowhere better than the dirt road we were just dubious of, but with a keen eye, we spotted steam rising from the ground. The adventure beckoned us from our warm cocoon. Like a young antelope racing from the jaws of a hungry lioness, we raced to the hot spring. The warm, soothing waters of Wild Willy’s cleared our minds and bodies of the bone-chilling air around us.
They say the waters circulate with healing minerals and for as long as man has been alive, hot springs have been a source of therapy. Though this may be counterintuitive as the smell of rotting eggs welcomes soakers and the yellow-orange thermophilic archaea and bacteria cake the sides of natural pools, like fresh puss oozing out of a wound. However, the minerals mingling in the water, like calcium, sulfate, and magnesium, are theorised as relieving ailments such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, and high blood pressure. Whether true or not, we sank into the hot water, letting it take over and soothe whatever it could.
Earth mushed between our toes and clouded the pool causing it to look even more otherworldly and mysterious…just as the seeming remote land we were in. The night fell quickly around us, unleashing our minds from reality. What a freeing feeling to be here, so far from people and the complications of life. How silly to think about turning around at the prospect of being lost. These hidden corners of the earth, these small moments of victory, and these damn good waters surrounding us are a small reminder of why we live for the day.