On the very first day of a new year, I like to do something ~memorable. For several years I have participated in some sort of Polar Bear Plunge. You know, jumping into icy cold water with other crazy souls to “refresh the spirit”.
I had just arrived back in Montana two days earlier from Florida. It had been three days of constant driving and an adventure in itself. To do something a little bizarre was not on my priority list, little did I know, it would become another memorable day.
I invited myself to go with my oldest daughter. We drove to Yellowstone National Park to do a little “hot -potting”, a short drive…two hours at the most. We took along cross country skis, snowshoes & swimwear.
We first stopped at the visitor’s center, which was actually open. We laughed at the sign that stated “Restrooms Located Outside Under Stairs”
I don’t remember the last time being in the park in the wintertime. We drove as far as we were allowed… to the top of Mammoth Springs. Instead of getting out the gear… we just hiked along the trail and visited the various springs. There wasn’t much snow, very unusual for January. Visiting Yellowstone in the winter is actually pretty amazing!
To sit in icy in a cold river where boiling water runs thru it, is quite an interesting thing to do anytime of the year. On the first day of the New Year… though, it’s pretty special, as you know the other soakers made it a conscious choice to be there also.
With the exception of an outhouse at the parking area… a half mile away or more it’s very primitive. You must hike at least a half-mile on a dirt path on foot to where the pools are located. You never really know who or what you may run into along the way. I did see a really nice naked guy changing out of his suit. To look or not, it is one’s choice. There is nothing so freeing as to drop off your warm clothes in 30-degree temperatures and journeying into the water, hoping to feel the hot water as soon as possible.
We arrived just a couple of hours before “closing”…. Even so… there was a massive amount of soaking fools!
It takes a bit of maneuvering to find just the right spot with the perfect temperature. The pools are not very deep, just enough to sit on your rear and have your head stick out of the water. What is interesting… is people up stream control the flow of the water… you realize this when they move…. releasing previously blocked hot or cold water to interrupt your personal soaking experience. The boiling water that flows off the cliffs and out of the caverns is about 140 degrees F. The water from the river is icy cold, but not frozen.
It’s important not to get hypothermia. It is wise to remove wet cloths, cover up right away and get your shoe & socks on. I thought I was really being smart by bringing my robe, which is what I hiked back to the car in.
The plan was perfect… except when I got to the car… I realized I had forgotten my pants back at the fence.
Nothing like taking a nice hike in your robe under the moonlight in January. Another day to remember!