Saturday, November 2, 2019

Soaking in More Than the Sun

My friends, Amy and Stephanie, planned three bikepacking overnights. This is the story of the third one...Goldmyer Hot Springs. 

First, a little history lesson. Goldmyer Hot Springs is a minimally developed wilderness area owned by Northwest Wilderness Programs, a Washington State non-profit. Their stewardship policies were established in 1976 to enable them to preserve the hot spring and the surrounding private property. Goldmyer offers visitors access to old growth forest, a crystal clear natural geothermic hot spring, beautiful waterfalls, and campsites. Access is limited to 20 people per day (regardless if camping or just day use), and group size is limited to 8 people. Reservations are highly recommended. Info says, if they are full , walk-ins without reservations will be turned away. They mean business!

When Amy and Stephanie posted this bikepacking trip, I immediately said yes (of course I did). Amy made the reservation for the four of us who right away said yes. Shortly after the reservation was made, Goldmyer was fully booked for the two days (one night) we would be there. Unfortunately, unless someone canceled, it would be just the four of us...Amy, Stephanie, Derik, and myself. 

Since it was just the four of us, we were able to all go in Derik’s truck. I took my gravel bike, Sly. Friday morning they arrived to pick me and Sly up, and we headed up I-5 to I-90. The way to the trailhead for Goldmyer is along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the Dingford Trailhead parking area. We arrived and bikes were loaded up by about 1:00. 

Getting our gear packed onto the bikes. 

Almost ready!

The route to Goldmyer was mostly a rocky (often big rocks) “road” that went as far as a footbridge. From there it was about a quarter mile to the caretaker’s cabin. 

Lovely waterfall not far from the start. 

Stephanie pedaling on. 

Amy rolling along. 

And, Derik too. 

Here we stayed to the right. We had directions, but there was also a small sign pointing the way. 

Goldmyer even has a bike rack!

The caretaker’s cabin (you ring the bell by the sign when you arrive). 

Although it was just 4.5 miles to the caretaker’s cabin, it took us an hour to get there (did I mention the rocks???). My Surly ECR, Mama Cass, would not have been overkill on this ride. 

We rang the bell, and reviewed the rules with Esa the current caretaker (she’s been there for 6 months and is leaving soon). 

Quite a few rules. We really wondered about the rule of “peeing on a rock” (if one could not make it to one of the two outhouses in the camping area...say, like in the middle of the night) so as to not attract the goats. It didn’t really make sense however, Amy Googled it on the way home. Turns out, it has more to do with the goats liking the salt, and if it’s on the plants, they will eat all the plants. Well, that’s not what Esa said. Regardless, we didn’t see any goats. 

Esa showed us the map of the place and suggested a couple of campsites (there are 8). 

We opted for campsites 7 and 8. Derik and Amy on 8, and Stephanie and I on 7. 

We set up our tents, then promptly headed for the hot spring. It was about a 10 minute walk from the campsites. We walked through the old growth forest, and by the waterfalls to the hot spring. 

The lower pool is the coolest (not counting the small cold pool). 

The next pool up is warmer, and the third pool is in the cave where the source of the hot spring flows. The cave goes back about 30 feet. This is the warmest at about 116 degrees. 

At the hot spring, there is a covered changing area where you can hang up your clothes. We all started in the “coolest” of the pools, then worked our way up to the cave. The water in the cave was deep enough to be able to submerge up to our necks without having to stretch out. Even though it was a very nice sunny day, it was chilly out, so the hot pool felt wonderful! I didn’t take any photos of us in the hot spring is optional, and the lens would have fogged up anyway. Goldmyer sells candles to take to the back of the cave where it’s pretty dark. It was pretty awesome! 

We soaked for a good long time. Steph and I headed back as we were both hungry, and I preferred to have a bit of daylight to walk back (still ended up using my headlamp for better depth perception). 

Derik and Amy soon joined us back at camp, and we all fixed our various dinners. I finally finished off the last repackaged Mountain House dinner from the aborted Glacier Peak backpacking trip (you can see the posts for that on my hiking blog at I also had a Mountain House Apple Crisp for dessert. It was good, but my favorite is still the Raspberry Crumble. 

After dinner, the three intrepid soakers returned to the hot spring. I declined because walking in the dark is no longer my strong point (with my less than perfect vision). Also, my toes were cold, and the rest of me was headed that way too, so I retired to my tent. 

It got pretty cold during the night, but I stayed warm enough in my quilt. I’m really liking the Katabatic Flex 15 quilt with the Thermarest Neo air Xtherm sleeping pad. 

Morning came (another sunny, but cold day), and Stephanie (who had already gotten in another soak) and I went down to the river to filter some water. 

Seriously cold water!

It was rather frosty. 

Check-out wasn’t until noon, so we headed back for another soak in the nice hot water. Several people started showing up (I guess they were right about being fully booked). A group of what sounded like Russians had also ridden their bikes (including a girl who looked to be about 9 or so). Since we needed to break camp, we dressed and headed back. 

Waterfall by the hot spring. 

So, we didn’t exactly get out by noon (we tried...sort of), but we eventually got everything packed back on the bikes. 

Starting the pack-up. 

Amy already has her tent down. 

We returned to the caretaker’s cabin, and checked out. 

The ride back was more downhill than up but the first bit after the bridge was a good heart thumping warm up. 

Selfie on the bridge just before the climb. 

We bounced over the same rocks as yesterday as we rode the 4.5 miles back to Derik’s truck. 

Amy on a bit of smoother road. 

A brief stop in the sun. 

The river is truly crystal clear! Those rocks are under water!

When we got back to the truck, Amy proposed that some of us ride the rest of the way to the parking lot (for another trailhead...another 6 miles). Derik offered to drive his truck down so us three women could do the ride. We took off for more rocky and bouncing fun. We encountered a few vehicles heading up, but it wasn’t bad, and they were all kind enough to stop to let us pass. 

Down at the parking lot, we loaded up and headed home. This was a great bikepacking overnight! Thanks go out to Amy and Stephanie for putting it together. Goldmyer is open year we’re thinking it could be cool to snowshoe (if a vehicle could make it to the Dingford Trailhead parking) there this winter! So many adventures!!!