After organizing a successful clam digging event last month, my friend Michelle seemed to have discovered her superpower in event planning. And, reaping that benefit, I am in all encouragement mode. “So Michelle,” I asked her in the lounge one day, “What’s next on the fun to do list?”
“Have you heard of this place called Goldmyer?” She said thoughtfully.
Oh have I heard of Goldmyer? Yes, I have.
While bored on the internal medicine service at the VA during my intern year, I decided to make a list of fun things to do around Washington. I searched and stumbled onto a blog that listed the best hot springs in the state. I have since been to Sol Duc Hot Spring twice and Scenic Hot Spring three times. But Goldmyer, being the first on that list, had eluded me. It’s always booked full six months out.
Goldmyer, a popular spot for hot spring enthusiasts, is not easy to access. The property around the hot spring was privately owned initially with the intention of building a resort. However, the place was chronically abused by people sneaking onto the property. One of the resort buildings was burned to the ground in the 70s by squatters. The owners eventually turned the property over to Northwest Wilderness Programs, which has kept the place as natural as possible.
“You can’t find a spot to Goldmyer. It’s all booked.” I waved Michelle off. I have checked the goldmyer calendar on their website many times a year looking for a weekend getaway.
“Only weekends are booked. We can go on a Thursday,” She smiled mischievously, “Yilei and Jamie are always off Thursday; Timmy and I can take Thursdays off. We can make this happen.”
I pulled out my phone and scrolled through my calendar. I was post-call three of the next eight Thursdays and randomly having a Thursday off in early May. Interesting!
A few weeks later on a Thursday morning, I woke up to my alarm set for a meet up at exit 34 off Interstate Highway 90. Since I was the only one in the group coming from Seattle, the rest of the group, coming from south sound, all crammed into Jamie’s car. A few miles after passing the parking lot of Mailbox Peak, the road branched to the right and became bumpy. The potholes got bigger and mud puddles got deeper as we advanced on this service road. Jamie lead the way in her Subaru driving 15 miles per hour. After almost an hour of tumbling in my CRV behind Jamie’s car, we finally arrived to a parking lot.
We walked on a gravel service road for two hours before finding a sign nailed fifteen feet high on a tree that read “Goldmyer Hot Spring.” Hooray!! We followed the narrow trail, which led us to a wooden cabin. A bearded young man strolled out of the cabin before we had the chance to ring the bell and greeted us with a big smile. He took our print out paperwork, laid out the rules of the hot spring and waved us off.
Goldmyer hot spring allows 20 visitors a day for a good reason. It’s not a big place. There are three pools with hot water coming from the depth of the granite mountain. There is a lonely cold water pool for people looking to be refreshed. A cave, maybe 20 feet deep, 5 feet wide and 8 feet tall, was said to be created by dynamite years ago. Inside the cave, the water was waist deep and the air was steamy like a sauna. The two pools below the cave were shallow, with water that reached halfway up our calves, and got incrementally cooler as it flowed further from the cave. Thirty feet from the poolside, a waterfall rushed spring melt down the mountain.
We arrived to find two naked couples spreading out in each of the pools below the cave. We looked at each other. It seemed too awkward to squeeze in with the couples. We decided to eat our lunch, which was only allowed at a picnic table fifty feet away from the pools. I was given special gift, a sandwich made with bread baked by Michelle’s mom and meat smoked by Yilei. I wolfed it down before realizing that I hadn’t taken a photo. I failed my Asian responsibility for the society today.
As we sat at the picnic table, more people showed up and no one was leaving the pools! That’s it– I was done waiting for the naked people to come out. I wrapped a towel around my waist, changed into my swim trunks, and waded into the bottom pool. The warm water felt nice on my legs. We then explored the cave, found the water source and sat on the rock bench at the far end of the cave. Outside the cave, clouds parted, the sun lit up the mountainside, and sound of the roaring waterfall reverberated in the valley.
We lingered in the pool until we outlast everyone else. I wouldn’t have minded camping a night here for only $5 extra dollars a night. The hike back was long, and we were hungry. Fortunately, North Bend offered some food options like Rhodie’s BBQ (one of my all time favorite bbq places in the region) and Rio Bravo (a New Mexican place). We ended up settling on Snoqualmie Brewery for some burgers, which hit the spot for me.
So, Michelle, what’s next on the fun to do list?