Zen On Dirt

Hot Sisters Hot Springs Day 16 – Road riding and nekkid people

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“Back when I first started coming here 30 years ago, all the young people were naked and the old people wore swimsuits. Now it’s the other way around.”

I didn’t think I’d ever hear a 70+ year old naked-shame young people. He did have a point…thought the hot springs seemed to fluctuate from mostly PG-13 rated to completely naked and back throughout our time there. The Cougar Hot Springs were the highlight of the day…maybe the trip so far.

I think I sort of woke up on the wrong side of the tent this morning. No reason, just woke up not into the idea of pedaling a bike all day. Plus, once we got over the giant mountain in front of us, we had another big climb and then what seemed like a really long road ride on the Aufterhiede to the hot springs, at least on the map.


Hopped up on Vias (thank goodness they had some in Oakridge), I was able to hide the overall grump for the first climb. Then we descended 2,000 feet, so there was no reason to be grumpy on that. Then on to the Aufderhide, a nearly deserted paved road that wanders through huge old-growth forest.

It was beautiful, as far as paved roads go.

We’d planned to get on the Constitution Grove Trail that someone had assured us was good trail. It looked overgrown the first spot we tried to get on it. Half mile down the road, we couldn’t even find the crossing. Finally, at Constitution Grove proper, where they nailed plaques with the names of all of the signers of the Constitution to 200+ year old trees, we were finally ready to give it a chance.


It was okay. Lightly used, but okay. But when trees started being down, I mentioned I wasn’t really in love with the trail, especially since the road was 50 feet to our left. We bailed pretty quickly.


“You’re grumpy,” Scott accused at the road.

“Am not.”

“Do you want a caffeine pill?”

“Yes please.”

Life got better after that. I guess the 2+ cups of coffee in Oakridge for three mornings didn’t really do a whole lot for the caffeine addiction thing.


We climbed the 700 vert of the pass and started what seemed like the longest downhill in the history of downhills. It felt like we were able to coast 90% of the way to the hot springs.

We stashed our bikes, paid our $6 each, and hiked up to the springs. They were stunning. Everyone should go visit them…but not if you’re not a ‘clothing optional’ person.

It makes me happy that in a society where some people want to ban yoga pants for being too suggestive, people can still get together and soak naked in the outdoors and not think anything of if.


We soaked for well over 2 hours before we decided we should probably hit the road. We made it up 3,000 feet of a 3,500 foot climb on the edge of the Three Sisters Wilderness. Tomorrow, barring rain, we climb to a fire overlook and then descend some sweet trail down to McKenzie Bridge. And then it’s supposed to rain….


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