Sunday, September 6, 2009

Back Again

Saturday, September 5

Back to the Hot Springs
0.5 mi (roundtrip)
300' elevation change (each way)
avg. 23% grade

Big Blue needed an alternator replaced, and we needed to shake her down good before we head up into the Sierras on Tuesday. And the smoke is still ridiculous here. So I decided to take DH to the hot springs on Saturday for these reasons and more. Hey, I said I'd be back again, and I meant it!

It was much easier, quicker, and less strenuous this time since I knew now exactly where we were going. The hike seemed shorter and easier this time. But when we were still on the switchbacks, we came across an older gentleman resting on a rock. He was shaking, having trouble breathing, and was missing deep chunks of flesh where blood streaked his arms, elbows, knees, and legs.

We stopped immediately to offer assistance. He told us he had missed a turn in the trail and taken a tumble down a granite chute, and that he was still very shaken up. Quickly assessing him, he seemed slightly in shock and slightly dehydrated. Other than some nasty granite bites, scrapes, and cuts, he was not injured such that he needed more than first aid and rehydration.

DH offered to walk him back to his vehicle. "I hate to come all this way and not get there," he said; a sentiment to which I could relate. "How much further is it?"

I was floored. Here he was, 71 years old as it turns out, hiking alone (!!!) on an unfamiliar trail in steep, unforgiving terrain to a location he's never been. This is one good reason why I am sometimes reluctant to tell the world via the internet precisely where I have gone. It turns out Will Rogers was right: 'common sense ain't common' in this world.

DH led him by both elbows each step of the way down to the springs. It took them 45 min (and the gentleman smoked two cigarettes along the way!!!) to walk what took me 3 min to walk. And you know I go slow!

A paramedic who had gloves and a good first aid kit took over for DH when they finally made it to the springs. Everyone there of all ages assisted; that's how it is in these older parts of SoCal.

There were always at least a baker's dozen of people rotating through the hot springs throughout the day. There were all different stages of undress from shorts, to bikinis, to the way God made 'em. Wow, what a motley crew we made! Yet everyone got along and respected the place.

And that's another reason why I don't always like to state explicitly where I've the Eagles sang, "You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye." And this place is definitely a form of paradise. I think the stones set in the pools there say it all: Blessed Waters.

Click on any picture to see larger version.

We soaked all day and I amused myself taking pictures underwater with the new camera. I also tried out the video feature (not too successfully) on the guys braving the rapids to swim across the river. They would go off the rope swing, swim across the river to the rocks, jump off the rocks, then swim through the rapids back to the pools. (I wish I had gotten people going off the rope swing, but I was just too busy relaxing to keep my camera in hand.)


Dropped off the rope swing.

Going across to jump off the rocks.

Coming back through the rapid water.
These guys spent all summer getting strong enough to do this!

We enjoyed the slow ride home (shorter distance; longer time) and made it as the last trace of light was gone from the western sky. All the way, we were driving into the almost preternatural blackness of the smoke-filled eastern sky. I was glad for the respite, but now it's back to the fires.

Next up for hikingforhope is our Sierra trip! I'll be off-line for awhile as I enjoy these beautiful mountains of ours on this magnificent planet we call Earth.

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