Hot Springs in the Forest
The biggest purchase I have ever made was this year: a new Jeep Rubicon. I'm not much of a car person, I believe that cars are simply tools to get you from one place to another in the most effective way possible. But when that place happens to be on the top of a mountain or in the middle of the forest along FSRs, then the Jeep becomes one of the best tools for the job.
Last weekend, H and I decided to go on a non-traditional Thanksgiving weekend off-road adventure. Keeping in mind that Thanksgiving is a welcoming of the Fall season in Canada and relates strongly back to the First Nations in this country, we ventured out into the bush in search of hot springs.
We packed the jeep full of warm clothes and tinfoil packets of food for our Thanksgiving campfire feast and got in a couple hours of sleep before heading out before sunrise Sunday morning. Coffee in hand, our first refueling stop was in Mission, where we stopped by Cascade Falls Park to get some fresh morning air-- we were the only people there.
We then continued on to Harrison, getting stuck behind a Chinese tour bus on its way to the resort town at the south side of Harrison Lake. Once we were able to get in front of the bus, the pavement quickly ended and we were on the Morris Valley Forest Service Road, bouncing our way along the west side of Harrison Lake headed north towards the logging camp at Tipella.
This area is spectacularly beautiful. We traversed streams, climbed up to vistas overlooking the lake, stopped at rocky beaches on the azure shores, encountered a black bear sleeping on a bridge (who booked it into the forest as soon as he saw us coming) and stopped constantly to admire the fall leaves and spectacular beauty of this place.
After about four hours we reached the turn off to Sloquet Hot Springs-- a natural hot spring in First Nations territory that is produces by a scalding waterfall cascading down into several cornered off natural stone pools as it drains out into a tributary of the Lilooet River.
We found a nice secluded spot in the woods and set up our camp with the entrance of our tent facing the forest. We then hiked straight down to the pools for our first dip. The faint smell of sulphur in the air along with steam rising up from the waterfall engulfs the shoreline, along with curious dome-shaped spiders webs lining many of the bushes leading down to the pools. The area has a magical feel to it, and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
In the evening we prepared our wilderness Thanksgiving meal, and it was almost poetic how amazing it felt to enjoy this experience in nature. We stuffed a whole duck the night before with rosemary, thine, oranges and red wine and made pouches of potatoes and duck fat with cranberries, roasted garlic, yams, and duck fat green beans. Each item was packaged in a tinfoil ball that we added straight onto our campfire.
Using a pair of tongs, we pulled out each of the balls and opened them up to expose their succulent contents, hot steam rising off of each of them as they met the crisp fall air. Without plates, we just dug right in, using hands, forks and knives to strip away pieces of duck, potatoes, garlic, beans and yams. All while sharing a bottle of red wine, illuminated only by the campfire and a headlamp.
H and I discussed what we are thankful for, a Thanksgiving tradition, and simply enjoyed the splendour and rejuvenation only possible when surrounded by nature.
Following our feast, we hiked back down to the hot pools for an evening dip. The hot spring faithful had placed candles on the rocks, giving the place an almost spiritual feel. I wont go into any more details, but damn, was that place special.
Autumn is just such a spectacular time to go exploring. It's my favourite season by far, even in the rainy Pacific Northwest, where the water brings the forests to life.