Bagby Hot Springs: this Tuesday's Exploration
A quick excursion from the Willamette Valley into the relaxing and funky hot springs in Mt. Hood National Park.
On a weekday winter morning, which just happened to be our anniversary, I surprised my husband by packing up some things and taking him on an adventure. We left at 9, and by 10 o'clock we were pulling over to take pictures every 15 minutes, for once you enter the Mt. Hood National Park, every turn is a photo op.
At 11:15 we pulled into the Bagby Hot Springs parking lot and paid the $5/person admission. Totally worth the pocket change.
- Bottle of 2014 Vinum Ferus Rosé
- Two plastic cups
- Package containing charcuterie, cheese and crostini
- Hiking shoes
- Rain jacket
We hiked up the 1-ish mile trail that followed a gorgeous river. I felt multiple times that I was in a scene from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. It was all story book, fairy tale, and epic. Huge pines and redwoods surrounded us. It rained off and on, which I did not mind at all. One thing you will find when you become an Oregonian is that rain no longer becomes a hindrance. For a few moments it was raining so lightly that it looked like snow- something I have never before experienced.
After one final ascent, we reached the hot springs. It looks like a small campground with a few rudimentary structures. The atmosphere was relaxed and hushed. I heard people giggling in low voices and saw all but one stall was closed with back packs and towels hanging on the wooden pegs just inside the door. Down a small flight of stairs was a guy playing a ukelele. They were waiting for the more open (community), old giant whiskey barrels to fill with water. Since we did take alcohol, which is not allowed, we opted for the enclosed stall. I will say that it feels a tiny bit like a bathroom stall because it has graffiti all over the wood, the floor had a wet piece of clothing left from another bather, and the water flow is blocked by a sock. For some reason, the wet sock thing grossed me out. HOWEVER, once we got set up, it was divine.
The fascinating thing about this place, is that the piping hot water, at 135 F, is piped through a series of wooden ducts. You take the sock out, stop up the hole in the carved out wooden log, and wait for it to fill up. This takes a while, but is aided by a 5 gallon bucket that you can take to a close-by tub of cool water that stabilizes the water temperature to a steaming 108 F or so.
Once the water filled, we set up the charcuterie board and wine on the overturned 5 gallon bucket and eased in to the tub. It was just me and my love and a bottle of wine. Clothing is optional in the private rooms, by the way. Half of the room is covered by an overhang, the other half is open to the trees so you can gaze at the sky, feel the rain, hear the stream...
THIS WAS PARADISE.
All worries dissolved, melted, ceased to exist. After about an hour, we packed up, took the magical hike back to the car, and set off to Portland (he didn't know yet where we were going) for a meal of a life time. I'll report on that another time.
********* I hear the hot springs are awfully crowded on the weekends when the weather is nice, so I only recommend this activity on a weekday when the weather is cool and rainy.