While winter’s attempt to reinstall its reign over New York City on Monday night failed totally, with the morning rain washing down almost all snow and the afternoon sun dealing with the rest, my friends in Europe are still suffering from yet another particularly long and snowy winter. So, here is probably my last blogpost of the winter season. Well, this one is from Californian ‘winter’, so don’t expect anything like jumping in the ice hole in the Moscow River, or frolicking in the snow by the naked gym in Paris… but rather soaking in hot springs! California has lots of those, so Niko and I spent some time choosing which ones to visit on the way from Eureka to San Francisco. Orr hot springs called our attention by having a reputation of providing exquisite tranquility; it is a cute rustic resort with small cozy cabins, excellent self-service kitchen, and of course saunas and baths filled with natural thermal water.
Orr hot springs are quite easy to reach from Bay Area, but seclusion is one of their key words. There is no cell phone service, no wi-fi, and actually, not even an official webpage! I don’t think there is a lack of visitors though, thanks to the word of mouth and reviews in Yelp… and websites like this one 😉 Therefore, to make sure there is a spot for you, reservations by phone are required +1 (707) 462-6277.
We arrived quite late in the evening and had the main bath for ourselves for a while.
It was gorgeous full moon night, and mist gathering above the hot springs made the whole place look mysterious.
In the morning, the mist highlighted sun rays peeking through bamboo.
… and the mist that condensed on the grass around hot springs, provided another pretty display – hoar frost – and a proof that it did get down to freezing temperatures during the night.
Not a problem though, if you are surrounded by hot springs and saunas.
After absorbing the heat of thermal waters, it feels just great to walk around butt-naked despite the cold.
By the way, the whole resort is clothing optional except for registration desk.
We explored the territory of Orr for a bit,
and after the check out time in the cabin (noon), we decided to go for a hike.
Unfortunately, there are no trails starting at the resort, but there are some in its vicinity, in the Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. The afternoon was getting quite warm, and as we turned away from the main trail, I felt comfortable to get unclad.
This trail mostly featured young redwoods, as the area was probably still recovering after logging. One of the huge redwood stumps looked like a stage.
We didn’t see much wildlife except for a few birds and a couple of these ancient-looking creatures, red-bellied newts.
It was the first time when I saw an adult newt, as previously I only saw juvenile forms (efts) of a related species in Harriman State Park, NY. Adult forms aren’t that bright, except for the belly in this species. By the way, only preparing for this blogpost did I find out that their red belly “serves as a warning to potential predators, as [they] have enough of a neurotoxin … in their skin to easily kill an adult human”.
Speaking of warnings, soon we reached a fence with a sign saying that there was private property further up the trail and no trespassing was allowed. Why wasn’t there any warning in the beginning of the trail? We turned back and went down to the main trail, which went through old growth redwoods, including some of the tallest trees around!
We didn’t have enough time to explore the whole trail, but even the trees near the beginning were impressive.
In this forest of giants, we looked somewhat Lilliputian, but it made us appreciate only more the splendour of nature.