Sunday, March 29, 2009

Swimming when it’s 10° below zero

Soaking in the hot pools at Chena Hot Springs is a surreal experience. You walk into the dressing room, bundled up in four layers of winter clothing against the 10° F below zero temperature, and you walk out of the dressing room in just your swimming suit.

Ok, maybe I didn’t walk out in my swimsuit. It was more like a cross between walking and running, the kind of speedwalk you do when you don’t want to break the “No running by the pool” rule and definitely don’t want to slip on the ice and land on your swimming-suited keister on the cold wooden boardwalk below.

When Rebecca and I came out of the dressing room this way, we were surrounded by a thick mist, similar to what you see in the photo below, and so we couldn’t see if Ray had made it out of the men’s dressing room.

So, using her best loud teacher voice, Rebecca started shouting: “Ray? Ray Cain? Are you out here?” At that moment, the mist started to clear and we could see all the folks in the pool silently looking at us, and the big sign that said “The rock pool is a quiet place for meditation”.

“Ooops….” Rebecca whispered to me. “I guess it wouldn’t help if I were to yell out “Sorry everyone! Sorry for being loud and ruining your meditation! We’ll be quiet now!”

At that point, we figured that Ray could find us without us yelling for him, and so we made a dash for the hot water of the pools.

Aaaah…it felt great to walk into that nice hot water. We walked around inside the pool, finding the hot and hotter spots, and enjoyed studying the shapes of the snow crystals on the large boulders surrounding the pool from the comfort of the warm water. Ray joined us and we enjoyed relaxing and chatting.

Nice. Aaaah, toasty. Except my ears. Which are freezing. Brrrr, ears. Aaaaah, everything else. Brrrr, cold. Aaah, hot.

It was then that I did something stupid. I put some of the hot water on my ears, thinking that would warm them. But the hot water just quickly cooled, and my ears were colder now.

The good news is: they also have indoor hot pools. Before speedwalking from the outdoor pool to soak in the indoor ones, we captured a few photos of the frost that formed in our hair when the steam from the pools landed there and froze.

The next time I go there, I'll know to put on my earmuffs at the same time I put on my swimsuit.

1 comment:

Grandma Kate said...

When I first saw that picture I thought, oh no, do-it-yourself highlighting gone bad lol! So glad to know that it was the steam/ice. You are my new "world traveler/explorer/good will ambassador" super hero!