I had 3 days off from work, and as fate would have it, I was asked to join a 3-day hot-springing adventure from San Diego to Reno in my dream vehicle—a Mercedes Sprinter van. Unicorns and rainbows flew out of my pores and I accepted with glee. He swooped me up from the airport and we headed straight through LA to get to Deep Creek Hot Springs, on the edge of the Pacific Coast Trail. It was a 45 minute hike down the valley to reach the river, and with a short cold crossing, we emerged up the opposite banks to climb into our first of many hot tubs of goodness. There were several PCT hikers who came down from the hills and joined us, soaking their tired feet and rejuvenating their bodies in the healing waters. Of all the hot springs I’ve been to in my life, this place was the most picturesque.
The next day we headed up the 395 and found some great little pools off the side of the road that you would never know were there unless you ‘knew’—as my partner fortunately did. There was a cascading flow of half a dozen pools making their way down the dusty road, all of which were magnificently clear and sparkly from the fools gold laying with the sand on the bottom. After trying out all of the pools and having a makeshift spa day with sand scrubs, we continued north to Mammoth Lakes to find a hidden tub in the wilderness. As we drove around the dirt roads seeking out our treasure, I got a dejavu feeling I had been there before. It wasn’t until we walked down a path and saw it that I knew. This was the Crab Cooker! I could hardly believe it. Back in 2003, my boyfriend and I spent New Years in Mammoth with some friends. It was winter, tons of snow on the ground—we took Matty’s Ford Explorer and drove in the pitch dark out into a the middle of nowhere. All of the sudden he jumps out and said, “We’re here!” “Where??” I thought. The rest of us piled out of the car and saw steam rising from the ground. The tub was so hot that we had to dump snow into it to cool it down. Then, we all stripped our clothes off and hopped in, beers in hand, milky way shining from above, cheersing to the new year. It’s one of my favorite memories from those days. This time would prove to be no different. My new love interest and I were now soaking the day and night away, meeting wonderful fellow travelers and sharing cans of beer, watching the night fall. The stars were bright against the black of the moonless sky… until. “Hey guys! The moon is about to rise!” I said, “Let’s all sit in silence and watch…” With that, we all turned towards the mountain in complete silence and together we observed the arrival of the moon as it morphed from a dot to a line to a crescent to an orb, brighter and brighter, moving faster it seemed as it rose above our heads. There was a non-verbal celebration as we all smiled and gleamed at what we were experiencing, sitting in the warm waters with strangers, appreciating the glories of nature.