Day 2 - Year 2
It is night two of our second winter south of the Canadian border traveling in our trusty van. We are parked along the Lochsa River in Idaho. The forests here are full of tall red cedars, with trickling creeks cutting small canyons through the mountains. After a long day of driving we finally soaked our tired bones in the Weir Creek Hot springs in the Nez Perce - Clearwater National Forest. A rustic hot spring set on the side of a mountain with a small, ice cold creek trickling past below. The hot water seeps out of the mountain and collects in small pools among the rocks before eventually joining Weir Creek. We arrived just as darkness was overtaking the forest for the night so we did not get to witness the beauty of the mountain surroundings with our soak. Tomorrow we will return from our small riverside campsite to get our fill.
Today we drove from a small path in the woods in Washington state where we spent the night. A long day of driving followed through absolutely beautiful scenery. First we climbed through the Snow Pass before driving down to the plains and finding ourselves bobbing along the highway among golden fields of wheat that seemed to stretch on forever. When we reached Idaho the ground fell away again and we stopped along the road above Lewiston to enjoy the beautiful view of the badlands before us.
We then followed the Clearwater river north into the expansive National Forests’ land. Dry grassland slowly transformed into lush forest as we climbed. Suede covered hills were replaced by evergreen trees and rushing creeks. The drive was mesmerizing as we weaved through the forest, hugging the river, listening to Daniel Romano's new album, Modern Pressure. The Savana feels more nimble now since my Dad and I greased the ball joints and replaced the front drivers side wheel bearing. The steering is tighter, the Savana can now hug the corners and cut into each apex where before she rolled with every touch of the steering wheel. I disengaged cruise control and used the mighty 5.3 litre V8 engine to power her through each corner as the road became even windier, the turns tighter. My fun increasing.
Eventually we made it to Weir Creek for a quick soak. After a short hike from the highway we arrived at the rock tubs just before dark. Tomorrow we will return for a morning soak to begin the third day of our new adventure.
We awoke to a beautiful campsite on the banks of the crystal clear Lochsa river. As we lay in bed we could hear the water burbling over the rocks. The water was vacant of any sediment, the river bed was perfectly visible through the icy water. Further south this river fittingly transforms its name to Clearwater.
A new routine has emerged. Fifty burpees will be done at the start of everyday while our coffee steeps. After our morning exercise we drove a few quick kilometres to the small tiny gravel parking lot and trail head to Weir Creek Hot springs. Two Subarus and a massive yellow bus were already there at this early morning hour.
After a short hike through the Cedar grove we noticed the morning sunlight shining through rising steam. We were there!
Two young ladies are already enjoying the steamy water and are taking advantage of the option for clothing. They lounge on the rocks, their pale skin exposed to the morning sun. We join them in their natural glory and ease our cold bodies into the hot spring water. There are not many better ways to begin a cold day than slipping into a natural hot pool with a beautiful mountain view.
Easy conversation begins, which seems to always be the norm when we find ourselves exposed together in a natural hot water bath. They are from Missoula, Montana and have come down for a quick day trip and soak. The hot water melts away stress and tension as the four of us zen. The steam rises around us in the cold air, sunlight beams through the clouds of moisture as the still trees stand guard around us. The tops of the green cedar bows contrasting beautifully with the deep blue sky in behind.
Our new friends bid us farewell and we remained in the hot water for just a little longer. Three hours fly by before we emerge and make our way back to the van. The owner of the large yellow bus with smoke billowing out of the chimney emerges to see if we need assistance dislodging a tiny pebble from between the passenger side rotor and dust shield that was making quite the screeching sound during yesterday’s drive. He invited us into his warm home-on-wheels to meet his beautiful smiling wife, young son and two dogs. A large king sized bed dominates the rear of the bus as it was everyone’s night time escape I was told. The fireplace emitted a warm glowing heat that had me sweating as I surveyed their beautiful home. Plants, beads, pictures of their adventures and their smiles and laughter made me feel right at home as we chatted about our rolling homes. Her happiness, smile and laughter were striking. We said goodbye, wished them the best on their adventure and begrudgingly pulled ourselves away from yet another amazing hot spring experience. We had many miles to cover on this day, Yellowstone was still many hours away.
Everyone seems a little friendlier, a little happier at a hot spring. Weir Creek Hot springs ranks near the top of all that I have enjoyed. The natural beauty of being in the mountains, surrounded by tall trees while the clear water trickles passed into the creek below is a magical experience. Weir Creek Hot spring is definitely a favourite.