Breitenbush Hot Springs is the best hot springs and here’s why: within 20 minutes of pulling off the dirt Forest Service road your clothes will be gone and you’ll be in an outdoor rock tub tucked under a fir tree above the roar of a river. Kind naked people will be chanting or they’ll be silent or no one will be there at all. You’ll soak as the sun heads down toward the guardian edge of forest, you’ll breathe in one place and release another before emerging red and new. You head to the lodge to fill your face with whole organics – wild rice wrapped snug in nori, stir fried veggies glistening sexily, pho broth a bastion of earthiness, large leaves o lettuce lying about, all washed down with ginger chipotle tea. (Yes I’m serious,you’re going to yumyum down on all that!)
You digest with an evening stroll to Buddha’s Playhouse for a little sit in the small cob temple, then you gather camera and head to the labyrinth. As you pace toward the center you sink toward your own center, what a body body; pause in the center of all and make your tobacco offering on the sweet shamble of stones; retrace your steps emerging like the new moon emerges to flirt with Jupiter above you. Camera eye to the sky and you’re courting the Blue Time.
You’ve digested enough! Now take your clothes off again and duck into the sauna. It’s built over a natural steam geyser if you can even handle that, of course you can handle that! It’s dark and steamy and perfect. You come out into a night of stars and sultry clouds, you slide into a claw foot tub of freezing water, you hop out so frickin alive you’re dancing standing still. Head to the pools again steaming person, you’ll sit silently in the dark at the hill’s edge as the water sings with subtle moonlight. Finally head to bed to sleep so damn deeply!
Awaken to do it all again, but you’re even going to add: chatting with the Canada Geese couple who are again browsing by the labyrinth; running out on gorge trail where you nearly died last winter; teasing a squirrel who almost runs up your leg; and consuming more holy goodness of whole food.
There will come a moment when you’re not nearly finished but it’s enough for now, and you will once again put on the clothes of the Other World, and you will give gratitude to water and fire and rock and air, and you will walk back up to the road. But just because this place revels in the incredible you’ll stumble across a meadow with grazing deer who gaze at you and resume chewing without a worry in the world. You’ll drive away on a long loop that returns here, a perfect place at the edge of nowhere.