posted on Jun, 3 2012 @ 03:59 PM
The events that occur in this story are based upon real events. The experiences were real, and the memories are equally so.
There are magical places on this planet, some created by man, and some born of the earth herself, but amazing nonetheless. Once upon a time, I
discovered such a place, and have returned there several times. It's a mystical place of healing, where time slows to nothing, and reality is warped
in a little bubble around it. It's deep in the wilderness of Oregon, a place where no cell phone signal can penetrate, totally isolated from any
modern convenience. It is a wild place, with no electricity, but a location that people the world over visit,. It's a melding pot of like minded
souls, who are all in tune with the harmony around them, listening to the music of the earth in all her naked glory.
Curiously enough, the location is only an hour and a half drive southeastwards of Portland. Many people I've met while there said they were from
Portland, and never knew the place existed until then. I find it amazing that as brutal and greedy that modern society is, there are still sacred
places left untouched, perhaps preserved by a subconscious tie to the world we were birthed from.
Maybe there is hope for humanity after all.
The adventure begins with a drive down Highway 75, up the side of Mt. Hood, to approximately 2000 feet elevation.
The Bagby Trailhead is as far as you can travel by car, and from there, it's all on foot. Primitive campsites are available for free, and plenty,
and the camping experience alone in Mt. Hood National Forest is worth it. At two thousand feet above sea level, the air is fresh and crisp, untainted
by the city smog, and filtered by the tall cedars surrounding you. Within a few moments of arrival, you realize your skin is tingling, not only from
the euphoria of the elevation, but by the fact that you know you are utterly isolated from anything civilized. There are no horns beeping, no loud
exhausts, no music blaring, and no people yelling. The noises humanity create don't exist there, and if you listen closely, you can here the trees
rustling, the birds chirping, and water rustling. It's quiet, with only Mother Earth whispering.
Most people set up a campsite upon arrival at the trailhead, and then prepare for the mile and a half long hike through the wilderness up to 2200 feet
elevation, where this amazing site is located.
Backpacks contain snacks and
beverages, as well as a change of clothes and towels.
Our magical destination is the Bagby Hot Springs. Fed by water heated by the magma under Mt. Hood, the Hot Springs were “discovered” in 1881, and
several “bathhouses” were assembled thereafter, with rough cut wood timber, and cedar tubs were made from either hollowed logs, (there are seven
of those), or hand-made tubs (made with hands tools, there are three of those), and the rule still stands that all repairs are made with only hand
tools. Water is delivered by hand made troughs in a U-shape, supplying hot water from the springs at about 136 degrees F.
Cold water is supplied by several
mountain springs from over a mile away, and wooden “switches” control the mixture of hot and cold water.
The first part of the hike is relatively easy, on a path maintained by the US Forestry Service.
It's an easy grade upwards, until
the last third of a mile. From there the path climbs steeply, gaining over a hundred feet in elevation, but the climb is well worth it. Soon the
path yields it's rewards.
It's like walking into an old Western, hand made buildings, sans the gun slingers.
Buildings are primitive,
cedar shingles which are moss covered, and everything that has contributed to producing this site is a close derivative from nature, with minimal
Sometimes the bathhouses are full,
depending on the time of day.
The rule of thumb is a maximum of a two-hour soak if traffic is heavy, to allow others to share in the wonder. There was only one time when the
bathhouses were full, and my companion and I used that time to sit on a nearby bench and partake in a small meal from our backpacks.
Politeness rules in this location away from reality.
The most startling part for most who endeavor this journey, is the fact that clothing is optional. When approaching this site, be prepared to see
naked humans, in every shape and form, some exquisite,
and some hideous,
but each tenuous enough to meet
in this remote location. This place is where the remnants of modesty are cast aside, and people accept one another as an equal, conversations running
deeper than usual, while the relaxing heat from the water soothes your aching body.
If finding an eight person tub with only four in it, you simply ask if you can join them.
They never say no, because in this
wonderland it is the thing to do, and people will leave, having soaked their limit, and others will join later, at any given time. The people are
naked, no bathing suits, so you simply strip off your clothes to your birthday suit, and climb in beside them. Shame is non-existent here, and
comments about a person's appearance are taboo. Male and female alike, everyone a stranger, overcome the restrictions society places on us, and
blend together in a simpler manner, introducing themselves, stating where they came from, and everyone talks freely about anything.
Humans, without restrictions, have found a place to revert to an easier existence. Temporary, albeit, but one that addresses more basic desires,
those of freedom, being natural, and the expression of will. Society is forgotten, and a bond is forged, one shared amongst a few.