We wound up in Pagosa Springs, a small city situated in the heights of the Rockies.
When we first arrived, we wandered around and happened upon a group of bath houses and inns. Two women were coming out of one, walking down the steps & chatting briskly. “Well, that’s not really a hot spring.” “What do you mean? The water was warm enough.” “It wasn’t a spring, it was a bath house.” Meanwhile, standing at the entrance of one establishment, a man twirled his mustache, and with a sly grin, counted his money. It was feverish and maniacal…
Honestly, I’m not sure if it happened exactly like that. I may be embellishing from the heat or the high. Maybe too many dusty roads.
“What are we doing here?” Paige and I asked ourselves. “Let’s get out of here.”
We found a place with live music, ate our meal, and on a whim, decided to stay at a motel instead of camping out. We welcomed a comfortable bed and the short walk to the springs in the morning.
We woke with the rising sun and sleepily made our way to the middle of town. Along the way, we crossed paths with a vagabond. He carried a hiking stick and laughed at a nearby dumpster overturned, of which, nothing fell out besides a crumpled piece of paper. Apparently, when no one is looking, curious bears wander the city and create all kinds of mischief. To avoid unnecessary cleanup, businesses strap their dumpsters shut. “Folks sure been talking a lot about bears!” exclaimed the vagabond.
We made it to the creek, scampering like little critters excited to jump in the water. A number of people fished, but other than that, no one occupied the pools.
I’m not sure who constructed them, whether travelers or public works or groups of volunteers, but the pools were made of small rocks & big rocks arranged in circles along the creek. It felt like an oasis. It was hard to believe we didn’t have to pay a single dime for the experience, nor was a permit required. Because, America. It felt strangely real, like hyper-real; the creek was pure and natural yet very much influenced by humans. There was a tent pitched right on the banks too.
We soaked for a while, dipping into the creek when the heat became too much, then back again when we became too cold. Although the water was incredibly clear and refreshing, it stunk to the high hells of sulphur. Without us noticing, the smell disappeared, replaced by the sweetness of dawn.