August 16th, 2014
I leave Fort Bragg just after breakfast and drive north along the coast on California’s famous Highway 1:
You can see how the fog hangs over us…
…but it’s still a beautiful drive:
Soon the road turns inland and joins Highway 101 through the Eel River Valley. Here the road is known as the “Avenue of the Giants”, but I take no pictures. We’ve all had enough redwoods. It’s warm and sunny here and there are plenty of places to stop and swim, but I don’t stop yet. As we approach the coast and the town of Eureka it gets cool and grey again, but I turn east on California Highway 36 through the Van Duzen River Valley. It’s warm here and, lo and behold, I find the perfect place to swim (yet another one):
But I don’t stay long. I have a long drive ahead of me, over mountain ridges and through river canyons, where it will be increasingly hot. Thankfully, Van is well air conditioned. I arrive in Redding in the late afternoon and check into a motel I know, take a long nap and then go to a Japanese restaurant that I like.
August 17th, 2014
The next morning I get up early and head eastward to the tiny town of Big Bend near which there are some so-called “primitive” hot springs, which is to say undeveloped, not like Orr.
I go to the Kosk Creek hot springs, which are a ten minute walk from the main road, along this dirt road:
Somone has decided to point the way…
…down this trail where…
…blackberries are ripening:
These are primitive hot springs, but nevertheless with some restrictions:
I entirely agree .
And then, just over a rise…
…the first of several pools.
The first pool closer up:
Notice the convenient platform that someone has built. There are any number of improvements that have been made here over the years, such as the rock and cement soaking pools themselves.
Just above the pool is this convenient bench that someone has built:
One of the best things about Kosk Creek is this swimming hole just in front of the first pool:
Kosk Creek as it flows into the swimming hole:
And now looking downstream where there are two other spring-fed pools along the creek bank:
Here is the original spring that feeds the soaking pool:
The water is very hot, and the pool is very small. You can’t soak here.
So I soak and swim, and soak and swim, and chat with two other hot springs aficionados who are at the nearby springs downstream. Hot springs fans are a community unto themselves, sometimes rather marginal and eccentric, but ecologically aware and in search of peace and quiet. We exchange information about other springs that we know.
The swimming hole as seen from the pool:
My feet, as I soak in the first pool:
Downstream, near the other pools, someone has built these now-familiar rock structures:
But I want to go to another pool that I know, further downstream. These stairs lead the way:
And I follow this trail through the forest:
No redwoods here! This forest is typical of the interior regions of northern California: pine, spruce, bay and madrone.
After a few minutes walk I arrive at the lower pools. I came here last September with my friend Richard, aka “Captain”:
Someone has put up this canopy for protection against the afternoon sun. But this is mid morning, there is no escaping the sun.
The lower pool, up close:
And from a distance:
I have a soak, a swim and I take some pictures. And then I have a little mishap. I’m walking about, taking pictures. I think to put down my camera, but I forget that I’m wearing my glasses. I plunge into the water to swim and realize too late that I still have my glasses on. Of course I lose them in the swiftly flowing water. The water is clear and I try to find the glasses, but it’s no use.
This next picture was in fact taken last September by Captain. It’s me swimming, precisely where I lost my glasses.
Some of my friends at home in Besançon will remember that I lost those same glasses last winter. I waited, thinking they would turn up, but I finally had them replaced. Then I found the first pair and so, fortunately, I have an extra pair here with me.
I don’t think my lost glasses will make their way back to me this time.