Slipping into the hot water, feeling it envelope your soul and relax every essence of your being while washing away the every day stress of life. This is what it feels like to soak in a hot spring. To me, ther is nothing better than soaking up the earth around you, overwhelming your senses with nature's glory.
Before you can induldge in the serenity, and to be able to enjoy soaking to its fullest, you must be prepared. First decide on what type of hot spring you'd like to venture to. Are yo planning on just stopping road side, backpacking in for one to several days, or some place in between? Despite which time line or hot spring suits your fancy, there are still some basics that you should know and bring with you to be prepared.
ITEMS TO BRING
First off, know where you're going, how to get there, and be sure to let someone know where you're headed. Safety first!
Towel: very important, especially in winter months
Swim suit for road side soaks. You'll want to check for etiquette (keep checking back here) on hot springs that are further than the beaten path. Remember that clothing can be optional in back country hot springs, so be prepared to see others au natural. If you don't feel comfortable with that situation you can always quietly make your presence knon and wait the other soakers out. For us ladies, the swim suit scenario is very important. If you're planning on soaking alone be cautious. Unfotunately, there are creepies out there. My suggestion; at a roadside wear the suit, back country soaking you should be fine in the buff. There is always safety in numbers. Feel the situation out and see what feels comfortable.
A note about your suits: do not wash them in detergent. Detergents will release into the springs and can cause foreign algae and mosses to grow which can threaten the native ecosystem. This also goes for soaps and shampoos, even those labeled "bio-soap". There are many natural alternatives that can be used. Better yet, just rinse your suit out when you get home and hanig it up to dry. Fabric softener is considered a detergent that can go into the water be it springs, rivers, lakes, or any other body of water.
Water and plenty of it. Your body can become dehydrated while soaking, especially while enjoying the hotter soaks. Also, it is not a good idead t mix alcohol with hot springs. The heat from the spring raises your body temperature and can cause ill effects. If hiking, or soaking for a long while, I suggest a sports drink or some other form of electrolyte replenisher. You'll feel better all around.
Snacks are a great idea. I always seem to be ravenous after soaking. Try something with a good mix of carbs and proteing. A PBJ is usually at the top of my list. Having a good snack can help stave off that too tired to drive feeling after becoming incredibly relaxed. If need be, take a nap. (There's that safety thing again!)
Good Shoes are a necessity when hiking. Your feet have to last your whole life, and the better you take care of them the better they'll take care of you.
Garbage bags are a definite item to bring.
1. To pick up trash so all can continue to enjoy the area. If everyone leaves the place of beauty in better shape than when they arrived, there will be less to continually pick up. This also means to leave the plants, trees and animals where you found them.
2. They duoble as a protector for your clothes and other items in case it rains/snows. At many springs the ground around them is wet, so the bags help keep everything nice and dry.
3. Garbage bags also double as a floor mat t stand upon while changing, keeping your feet clean and dry.
First Aid Kit fairly self explanatory. It's just a good idea.
Backpack to carry everything in.Keep one loaded with your towels, suits, and garbage bags for those spontaneous trips.
Camera to capture nature's beauty. Mine is attached to my hip at all times.
Last but not least....
A Good Attitude! Remember that you are not the only ones out there to enjoy these wonderous springs. We need to do all we can do to preserve nature and all of its splendor.
Of course, this list is just the basic begining. If you wish to go beyond a road side soak you need to take into consideration where you'll be going, for how long, and al of the items that may potentially be needed.
Backpack loaded with...
* Garbage bags
* Swim Suit
* Water or sports drink
* Hiking Shoes
* Spirit for Adventure
* First Aid Kit
Above all, use common sense, enjoy where you're at. Happy soaking!