I’ve had some long walks in my life, but nothing was quite like the walk I took last Sunday night while snow fell on my swimsuit-clad body, in 29 degree weather, from the tee-pee (where I got dressed into my bathing suit) to the pool of hot water. My friend, who was leading the way, could not walk fast enough to lead me to that pool of hot water. She was trying to walk slowly to protect me — so as to keep me from tripping on hurting myself on the stone walkway. The sky was dark, as it was 9 p.m, and Strawberry Park Hot Springs operates off – grid, meaning there are no outlets available for hair styling, cell phone charging, or lights, for that matter. Pitch blackness was all I could see. I’m checking out the website photos now so that I can see what I missed.
*From Kid*Doc*One*’s photostream
Once I finally reached the water, and my body was so longing for warmth, I stuck my toe in and immediately pulled it back out. The hot springs gush from the hillside (at temperatures of approximately 150 degrees) into the creek and pools below. Cold water from the creek is mixed with the hot springs water to fill several pools with varying temperatures, ranging from +/- 104 degrees to a cold plunge pool. I must have hit the one at 150 degrees, because my toe couldn’t stand it. Too hot. Yet, I was too cold not to go in. But it was too hot in the pool. Eventually, the pool won, and I took the heat over the cold — telling myself I would get used to it…and I eventually did. Because, afterall, this is real mineral water, fresh from the earth. Healing waters. Couldn’t miss this chance.
I sat under the waterfall, and it just poured onto my head and shoulders. You scoot inside of the well in the well, and you think, for a second, you’ll never take another breath… but you do. Check out a photo of that waterfall here: Because Strawberry Park is just such a natural wonder, I couldn’t resist grabbing this photo from Jadavid’s photostream.
How does this happen? How can people go swimming in 29 degree weather? Happens all the time, apparently. In Steamboat.
The only way into Strawberry Park Hot Springs is through an unpaved, pot-hole filled mud road. If you get stuck, there is a $500 fine. My friend, who has lived in Steamboat for over 30 years, used to come to this place on cross country skis! That was the only way in… and it was far. So far. Up the mountain the down the mountain, and up again…with wet hair!!! Crazy place.
We stayed for more than an hour, and I was, quite honestly, hot enough to peel off my bathing suit in that snow-covered tee-pee, get dressed, and walk all the way back to the car… without shivering. Not even once.