My first backpacking trip

July 08, 2014

We live in a construction disaster zone; daily, ever so changing road closures, sidewalk closures, no parking zones, and constant noise. Our building is surrounded, on all 4 sides, by construction. The noise starts at 7am, and it's a constant battle between preventing noise and dust versus allowing for a cooling breeze. So these days, I'm craving forest, mossy green, fresh air and quiet. This year, for the 4th of July, I couldn't care less about city and fireworks. I wanted an oasis in the woods, which is exactly what I got.

I was very excited and completely intimidated at the idea of backpacking. And by that I mean the camping type. I've got the travelling backpacking type down. Packing light? No problem. A small backpack instead of dealing with a suitcase? Got it. A flexible itinerary with lots of room for adventure? That's how I like it. Car camping? Also love it. Hiking? Check. Hiking to go camping... sounds awesome. And kind of hard. We had been vaguely planning to go for a while, with either car camping or hiking trips often taking precedence. It was time to make it happen. I gathered a group of great friends and made a reservation a while back, finally officially putting it on the calendar. We packed gear, delicious food, wine, and set off. 

If I'm being honest, I should admit that I debated for a short while wether or not to tell you all about it. The thing is, that place was magical. It was absolutely perfect, and possibly one of the most peaceful ways to spend the 4th of July weekend. You sort of wish that a gem like that could stay somewhat secret, but then again, you must share it with friends. So here is the scoop: we spent part of the weekend at Goldmyer Hot Springs, at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, just east of North Bend, WA. If you are from Seattle, and haven't been yet, the fact that it's so close is probably sinking in right about now. Yep. Turns out these hidden hot springs are our neighbours. Now imagine this: the hot spring emerges from an old mine shaft, creating a long, sauna-hot spring combo extravaganza, flowing into two small hot pools, with a cold one to the side. It is minimally developed, so you should expect all the charm, and none of the concrete silly hot spring pools that often come with hordes of screaming children and fast food. No offence Sol Duc, sometimes we like you too. You will need to make a reservation to visit Goldmyer, which is open all year long, but limits the number of daily visitors to 20. The hike in is 4.5 miles, with little elevation gain. Camping is a nice option, which we opted for, although a day trip is also possible. The camp sites were great, large enough and well spaced out. We gathered in nearby sites, and felt like we were mostly alone. Each site is equipped with buckets and ropes to keep food away from wildlife, and a nearby creeks allows you to collect water to purify. And there were outhouses, so as far as backpacking goes, I'm fully aware that my first experience was the more like flying 1st class than economy. And I'm ok with it. The hot springs are a short 1/4 mile up hill from the camp sites, and worth many trips. They are clothing optional, and therefore you may need to prepare yourself to look away when a naked yogi takes in the scenic surroundings while moving through the warrior poses, which may or may not have happened. If it did though, reverse warrior would have been a bit much. Seriously.

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