As of recently, if I’m not rock climbing, taking photos or writing, I’m most likely engulfed in hot spring beta. My newest obsession: geothermal hot spots throughout California that are not yet taken over by fancy resorts.

Eventually I will have an article for y’all that covers my top 10 favorite hot springs in California, but for now, I’ll give you the deets on this one.

Ellen V Baker

But first, a story:

The over-obnoxious vibration along with a terrible tune that nearly slaps me awake forces me to roll over and hit my phone viciously until the madness stops. I always tell people it’s important to have a calming alarm. “You need something that will wake you softly and surround you with positivity for the day.” Yet here I am, smashing my phone against the wall because waking up to this awful horn is the last thing I want to do. It’s 7 a.m., and it’s time to get up. Well, I’m self-employed, so do I really have to get up? Right now? Five more minutes …

I had gone to bed frustrated. Anxiety about life had been building and building and when I heard that horn the next morning, that was the last straw.

Getting swept away in a tornado of negative emotion is easy. We start to feel sorry for ourselves and that tornado grows and grows. We stop eating or we start eating unhealthy and forget to care for ourselves. The one actual responsibility we have in life is to care for ourselves, yet the moment our bodies need it most, we stop caring.


So how do we accept that the bad feelings are there and allow them to pass? The best medication I’ve found is in the outdoors. The brisk air, sun shining down on your face and seeping into your pores, the view of blue skies surrounding snow-capped mountains, all while soaking in a natural tub with water heated from the depths of the earth—how can anyone argue that this is not therapeutic? I don’t think any pill can give me the kind of satisfaction and happiness that nature can.

So, I woke up that morning, with the smashing of the phone and the blaring of the iPhone horn, packed my bags with a couple good friends and set out to a hot spring I had never been to.

Ellen V Baker

East Carson River Hot Springs, approachable by raft or four-wheel drive, and as far as I know (from the Internet), never approached on foot before us. My beta includes the hiking aspect, as we spent the first day of our trip traversing slippery mountains, weed whacking and searching for trails, which were not apparent until the hike home, the following day.

A 4.8 mile hike, arriving at two incredible springs overlooking the East Carson River. When you first arrive, there is a tub up the hill from the river that will most likely be empty. Simply use the (rather ingenious) plug that someone left, to plug the drain and let it fill. This will be the hottest of the springs and the hottest hot spring I have ever encountered!

Down the hill right on the river is another tub that is already filled, but not nearly as warm. The views from this one are spectacular.

Katherine and I enjoying the landscape

Katherine and I enjoying the landscape

So, how to get there? From Sacramento jump on Highway 50 toward Tahoe—just another weekend heading up to the slopes. I’m assuming you all have some sort of GPS system, so go ahead and just put “Airport Rd. and Scossa Canyon Rd., Markleeville” into it. Follow Scossa to the end(ish) or just find some parking.

Now, instead of hiking straight up a mountain, FIND A TRAIL. There is a four-wheel drive road that you can take, but once you find this, your skills will be put to the test as the trail changes from four-wheel, to ATV, to bicycle, to walking, to barely any trail, multiple times throughout the 4.8 miles. It is not a walk in the park, but I promise you it is worth it.

Bennett enjoying a fine whiskey at the spring

Bennett enjoying a fine whiskey at the spring

Camping is allowed near the hot springs but don’t expect any amenities. Bring trash bags and PLEASE, keep the hot springs cleaner than you found them. Many hot springs have been shut down due to people trashing them—let’s change this and be advocates of saving nature while enjoying it.

Turn off that horrendous morning alarm and take a dip in what nature has to offer.

    Ellen Baker

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    Rock scrambling, exploring and taking photos along the way.