The star of week 7 of the #52AdventureChallenge is hydrothermal activity. Best beloved for soothing weary bones or simply serving as a stellar setting for good conversation with good company, hot springs most definitely steal the show. While most minds tend toward Yellowstone when thinking of sulfur-infused water soaking the ground, geothermally heated groundwater exists everywhere and in many forms—probably even in your backyard!
During rainfall or as the snow melts, water percolates through the earth's relatively porous crust, trickling its way hundreds of feet below the earth's surface, amassing minerals as it goes—everything from radium to the sulfur that best dominates our senses later. Eventually, the water will encounter a thrust fault or crack in the bedrock, and, as it becomes heated by the hot belly of the earth's core, it'll be forced back upward from whence it came.
If the heated water can swiftly navigate back to the surface, often by way of a slowly dissolving limestone byway, it'll emerge hot and ready to host a profound variety of plant, animal, and microscopic life that's generally radically different from the surrounding habitats (think watercress and tropical fish in the Canadian Rockies). If you're lucky, the water will be cool enough to enjoy a soak.
From developed commercial hot springs, to small, handmade dammed pools, geothermal pools abound and serve up thermal water bathing experiences all across the West Coast. Note that far too many popular hot springs sites are extremely poorly taken care of by their patrons—if you don't have to work hard to find it, it's unfortunately probable that you will find broken glass and garbage. The Forest Service and other local management agencies are considering closing access to many of these sensitive locations due to excessive trampling of plants, large amounts of garbage, cans and glass bottles, human waste, and toilet paper left behind. They simply do not have the staff or the funding to attend to these issues. If you want to continue enjoying these areas, pack out all garbage and toilet paper and dispose of it properly, use vault toilets and other restroom facilities when provided, and stay on established paths. Using these areas responsibly will increase the chance that people can continue to enjoy them. Always practice the principles of Leave No Trace, and leave each site better than you found it.
We believe good things come from people spending time outside. We strive to provide inspiration and supporting information on incredible adventures to make it easy for you to get outdoors and explore new places. We understand that life is busy, but we strongly encourage you to make time for outdoor recreation on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To keep you inspired all year, we've put together a list of 52 geologic features and adventure themes. Check them out and join us in our #52AdventureChallenge!