I first heard of Deep Creek Hot Springs in northern Washington. This was my kind of place: a natural steamy hot bath secluded in nature. YES!
I was killing it on trail, hiking nearly 4 miles an hour, 25 plus miles a day with the limited sun hours of autumn. What a beautiful section, too! The canyon was lush, water was flowing, trees seemed unaffected by the drought. I was in good spirits (something to do with the tall can I packed out, perhaps), and took a nasty fall with camera in hand. I'm an expert faller by now... Still gashed up my knee pretty bad, but blood doesn't hurt.
The sun was setting as naked hippies started to appear off trail near the creek. My wound was deep and blood gushed down my leg. No!!! There is nothing more desirable for a hiker than soaking in a hot bath, but I couldn't join the party like this. A storm was approaching so I decided to keep on moving. I didn't even stop to touch the water. There was a little tear... I dreamt of this place for months and now, it slipped passed me without a taste. Another reason I guess I'll have to come back.
I knew that some fellow hikers were going to be camping at Splinters Cabin, some 10 miles further, so I got out my headlamp, chugged my last beer and made a run for it. Oh, how lovely to find my friends Chaga, Minki and Sanford staked out in the cement corners of the little shelter (NOT a cabin). We shared stories and hit the hay only to be awakened by the CRACK BANG BOOM of a lightning storm at 2 a.m.
It felt soooooo good to have a roof over head during the storm that the lack of sleep didn't phase me one bit. Until I woke up at 3:30 in a panic thinking that I peed my pants. Damn it! My long johns and the entire side of my sleeping bag were soaked. I reached for the one pair of dry socks to sop up the disaster before my friends woke up... only to find that my feet were drenched, too. There was some relief in knowing that my sleeping corner was completely flooded by the rain rather than an adult accident in the company of friends. I moved all my wet belongings to the picnic table and tried to catch a few more zzz's shaking in the cold.
I woke up laughing. We were just a long days hike from town, so I would be able to dry all my belongings before long. The storm made for some beautiful snow hiking, too. I think this was the first fresh snow I had ever hiked across. I've always been an optimistic person, but on that day I started to appreciate the quality for its true value.