A few weeks ago, a group of friends and I, in a fit of lunacy brought on by our sudden and unexpected graduation from high school, decided to go camping. We would not just go camping, but would go camping in the wilderness, and we would hike five miles or so to our camping spot just to ensure the true wildernessy qualities of our site. This was one of those conversations that should have ended in bursts of laughter and comments like “Gee, wasn’t that a stupid idea” followed by a hearty round of mini-golf.
But it didn’t. The area we chose was next to some isolated hot springs in the Idaho mountains, and was reached by a 5-1/2 mile hike, described by my friends as “not too exhausting.”
As I was packing I realized I would have to carry all my camping equipment on my back. Again, the madness continued as I figured that I would be quite capable of doing it, despite the fact that I had no hiking experience and was in the physical shape of a lounge lizard.
When we were shoving our precariously loaded pack frames into the crowded trunk, someone still should have said, “What the heck are we doing here? Let’s forget this crazy nonsense and go bowling.”
Unfortunately no one said anything and we drove away.
After a long, winding drive in which we had nothing to listen to except an old Bob Dylan tape (after four hours, Dylan begins to sound a lot like Buckwheat), we arrived at the trail head.
The hike seemed pleasant for the first few minutes but quickly turned excruciating. A lot of it was uphill and my pack felt like a giant rock on my back. For some reason, I didn’t bring water with me, so about three miles in, I started going numb and hallucinating from thirst, which at least took my mind off the trail. Eventually, after trekking through a lot of what that ad calls “Marlboro Country,” except without the curly-haired guy with lung cancer, we reached the hot springs and our campsite.
When I woke from my near-coma after a couple of hours, I noticed that our isolated wilderness area was pretty crowded. About 20 people from another Spokane high school were camping nearby. But I didn’t care how isolated we were, I just wanted to check out the hot springs.
The springs certainly were hot, but they were more rustic than I anticipated - just pools of water held in check by logs and rocks. A close look at the water revealed a lot of unwholesome-looking dirt and mud. Again, after hiking five miles, I didn’t care how dirty it was, I just got in. If you ignored the murk, it felt great and for a moment the hike was worth it.
The next day after I woke up with sore muscles and a headache, my friends and I decided to go on a day hike up the trail, which supposedly led to a lake. We hiked a long way, even past the snow-line and didn’t find a lake.
After the hike, I was looking forward to relaxing in the hot springs. I did that for a while and was enjoying myself until a couple of people took off all their clothes and sat in a pool about 10 feet from us. This was really too strange for words, and I had to woder if dirty naked people had been relaxing in the tepid pool I was currently reclining in. Needless to say, I beat a hasty retreat. I did not hike five miles to see yucky, naked people. Incidentally, they stayed in the pool for something like three hours, which can’t be that good for you. The nudists kind of killed the day for me so I went to bed.
After waking up and discovering some enterprising squirrels had made off with our butter, I saw a large, gangly moose down by the hot springs. We went down and watched as it stepped into and drank out of a pool, slobbering a lot into the water. We remarked that it was kind of gross that we could have been sitting in a pool of moose spit, when to our shocked horror, the moose began urinating in the hot springs. It did for a long time too, longer than Tom Hanks in that League of Their Own movie.
What was scary was that the moose could have done this many times before and we could have been bathing in moose pee. We hurriedly ran back to camp and packed up to leave. As we were walking out, we noticed that a girl from the other high school was sitting in the very pool that the moose had relieved itself in earlier. I should have said something, but I didn’t know what, so we just walked off silently.
Thus ended our great trip. Long hours of driving, hiking and suffering, only to be confronted with naked people and a rude moose. I think I’ll stay in town the rest of the summer. And by the way, to the girl who was in the moose pool - we’re sorry we didn’t tell you, but hot water kills germs anyway, right?
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Reed Jackson North Central graduate
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