Visiting the Cold Springs


The hot springs have been described here:

And Here:

AND Here:

We stopped in last weekend. The temps were in the 80F’s. It was just one of those perfect times when wearing clothing couldn’t be more wrong-headed.

Our arrival takes us to new spots that had been carved out of the tamarisk/mesquite woods. They are near the big pool. Although winter still has its potential, leaving most branches bare, there is quite a bit of shade to be had. We set out our tarp using low branches and below it pitch the net tent. We will be spending all of our time outside and experiencing the sensuality of the weather naked. I have a terry robe and warm mineral waters when the evening turns cooler. A camping quilt will get me through the night which will drop down closer to 50F. My down hood traps in the heat.

The next priority has brought us to that double Olympic sized, 85 degree, mineral soaked cement pond with its 20×20 hot tub. We spend hours in pleasure. We can’t seem to get out. Our feet wrinkle.

At sunset, we wander up to the drum circle on the hill above. There is a wonderful 360 degree view. The ruins of a concrete water tank looks like something more, something sacred. Around its circle sits the drummers. There are three of those Native American drums that explode with that wonderful bass tone.  There is a subdued and consistent rhythm. DF takes up a shaker, setting aside her drum. I grab her tambourine and blended in, making a chime, as if there are bells on my ankles.

At the Hilltop Circle the Next Day

We wander around naked through the creosote covered hilltop, dancing as we stroll, gazing across the vistas.

More revelers arrive, many take to a more energetic style of dance, arms stretched out, gyrating, some spinning, some dressed, some naked. One couple strips in joy as they smile and dance.

All around us, the sunset lighting highlights the natural forms. Shadows get more distinct and red orange light saturates. The local mountains with their horizontal bands of granite turn red. The towering Pinaleno Mountains are snow-capped, which turns pastel pinks.

I shout to all. Behind us, the moon has popped up. It is huge at the horizon and a dazzling silver white. The place has a spiritual high and a sense of blessings as we celebrate, as a part of that.

A potluck is shared after sundown and we get to know other revelers. In the kitchen as we prepare, all is cooperative. People are very friendly, introducing themselves, extending hands. It is a great group.

We retire to the main pool, once again swimming and hugging in the waters. We hop the short wall into the stinging hot tub, and then leave it once again to swim, over and over, until probably midnight.

The full moon illuminates everything. There is a fire near the edge by the boathouse backdrop. There sits a gathering with a ukulele and a guitar. Two feminine voices entertain. The sweat music drifts across the waters. People show up more and more, until I count 23 nudes in the hot tube area, many talking in relaxing comfort, some simply showing moonlit faces, eyes closed in peace.


The Hike:

We wake with the sun climbing and its warmth. We originally think that we are running very late, but DF soon discovers that one cell phone is picking up nearby New Mexico daylight savings time the other one Arizona’s. My watch confirms the earlier time. We are on a tardy schedule, which is more attuned to our usual tardy morning start.

We walk away purposely, heading back up to the top of that same sunset hill. I had discovered a way through the barbed wire fence that borders the property the previous night, while I wandered in my dance with tambourine.

I scratch my lower back on a barb that is hiding in the shade, but it just a light skin wound, no clothing entanglements. Along this fence, according to the satellite photos on google map, there is a road. We soon discover that it is a very little used jeep trail. The exposed rock from the last hard rain hasn’t been disturbed. Only the single file traffic of cattle is found. We have no need for cover-ups, as there is a near certainty that we will have no surprise encounters on our journey’s first leg.

Using the Cattle Path

Walking down the trail, we find two people at the guitar pond inside the fence. They ask us how we got through. I tell them. They then just pass through an opening of a wide couple of barbed wire strands. They are on their way to their own walk about, but soon head straight out into the creosote desert. We all then encounter yet another nude man, who is carrying a camera on a tripod. It seems a very busy coincidence.

There has been a wonderful refreshing breeze across our bodies. When it stops occasionally, I already can feel the heat of the sun on my back at 10:00am. We continue, discovering unusual cactus and sage along the way in the chest high dominate creosote forest. The trail runs up and down hills. The ridges give us views for miles. At each crest, I look for signs of the cold springs. I have no clear idea what they may be like. I just know approximately where in relation to the riparian area and a road to the west. I am translating a satellite image on my computer and memory to this different perspective. I have no idea what the actual distance is.

The walking is filled with river rocks and occasionally slippery. Eyes are directed to the ground to compensate. Eventually, I find the fence changing direction and a new trail. We follow the fence downhill. Soon, I am seeing the familiar white crystalline powder that builds up where the minerals dehydrate around short grasses. It looks like a frozen dew has hit. The texture crunches under foot like that kind of frost, but we are feeling a fine warm morning today.


A stream, well trampled by cattle hooves, shows itself. The emerald green band meanders gently down the hill.

Soon, we near the bottom of the valley. The trees, all bare, present a desolate feel, but in this, lays a healthy pond filled with reeds in contrast. As we approach there is a constant sound of large frogs jumping into the water. Each calls out a cute “bleep” before escaping its fears. I see only one; its legs are maybe seven, or eight inches long. It makes the same sound as it hits the water. I assume that this size is typical. Bleep, plop, bleep plop, bleep plop…. We speculate who might eat them. We ponder about ancient Native Americans who populated this area centuries before and the use that they may have had with what is available.

Reeds and Grasses throughout the Pond

We had been watching for the road, listening for the sound of traffic, looking for clouds of dust behind any vehicles, but in all of this time no one has been seen. All indications are that this road heads out to a few sleepy ranch houses and this is Sunday a day of rest. Just a few feet away, it is seen, but we have no reason to feel concern of an encounter. This is no Sunday swimming hole, and sound carries far in the silence, giving warning.

A Very Old Cattle Gate

Inspecting the perimeter as best we can, before the thick growth of mesquite and tamarisk blocks us, we see how the stream continues on through the thicket, gently draining the old vessel of life as it fills.

DF and I have achieved the long awaited curiosity of the “Cold Spring” and at midday, we feel a need to return to the fine waters of the cement pond.

We follow the stream of mineral water to its source under a tree.

The Spring Source

The trails rocky warmth and the uneven surface is beginning to wear at our feet through the thin barefoot soles, as we return. A mile in the distance, the air carries the sounds of children playing, screaming in the mineral waters at a three year old’s birthday party. I can recognize some of the voices. These disappear. Occasionally there is a new spring bee. I get entangled in a flurry of pesky flies as I pass through them.  I pick up my pace and they fall away, seemingly anchored for some reason to where they were. One, however, remains swarming. My arm’s swishes finally have an effect in this tenacious one…then there is once again, notable silence.

We hold each other’s belongings and help spread the wire fence for each other, this time next to the guitar shaped pool. We sit down on the small park benches and remove all traces of clothing. We then, step into the shock of the pond up to our ankles. This one is much hotter. DF sits down on the river rock ledge contemplating deeper submersion. I join her. It is pleasant, but I know that braving the dip has rewards. I gently splash and rub the warm healing waters over each part of my body and then slide a little more, incrementally entering to my shoulders and then to the neck.

We both have the urge to remain barefoot all over. We simply clip our shoes onto the straps of our water bottles as a young man and two pretty girls arrive to imbibe the blessing of this place. They had been down at Geronimo pool (each pool has a name). They are taking a sampling of the various mineral ponds. Arriving in bikini bottoms and he nude, they strip the silly modesty off and slide in to be engulfed in pleasure. He describes how he had fallen asleep there in the full moonlight the night before.

The additional sense of naked during our walk is liberating and seems to heighten the sensual awareness. This grounds us to our moment with each successive step. We know that there will be a rough area, before the part of the trail that leads through the woods along the trough of water flow. We know that the rocks today won’t be so hot in the early spring. Still, it is uncomfortable going. Every few steps turns up something new and sharp. Our feet have walked a good distance with little covering and the hot water has softened them up. I show DF how to lift at the knees to essentially prance. The action naturally places the feet in a toe then heel movement, as they are designed to do. I quickly pass her and move on, looking over my shoulder at her. She is emulating this and does much better, until we reach the trail covered in mulch and soft earth.

We wander slowly through the complex, enjoying the naked state and revisiting familiar sights. Arriving at the grand cement pond, slipping in, we begin swimming across its length. We have already discussed our hunger and lunch, but again, it all feels too good to leave.

We pass through the sensations of different temperatures. The flow of the hot mineral water mixes with the already cooled, creating huge bubbles of hot and cold, then hotter, then cooled as we pass down the gentle slope. Eventually, we settle in a warm spot and embrace. I squat as DF sits on my knees and then massage her shoulders. We trade. We embrace some more. Our bodies buoyant in the waters slip and slide together, as they float gently.

All of the while, there are the sounds of small children playing at the birthday party. We float into the outflow of the hot tub near them. A cake is presented and we all sing “Happy Birthday to You. “

The hot waters again sooth our muscles. I realize that there is much in my body that is used while swimming and much stretching is needed after a dormant season.

We gather what we need for lunch and head to the communal kitchen, which is a well-stocked converted shipping container.  We begin to prepare. Most are dressed in something here, if nothing more than a sarong. We are paid no mind in our altogether. I get out of the way as DF takes over and sit down under a thick tree to play my old guitar. For now, I find myself spontaneously making up tunes, placing cords and plucking whatever sounds best at the moment. Each note is savored as they come off of the sweet strings, then on to the rest, gently.

We sit down in the last vestige of shade on the long picnic style bench and enjoy something called “Quinoa Cowboy” burgers. My Goyzo sauce has been forgotten at home, but I smother the strange yet tasty food with available what have you and curried leftovers.

Back to the pool, exercise, gently float, stretch, hot tub, pool, tub, pool….

We watch unusual birds in the trees above us and listen to their unique calls. One male bird has as rich of an orange/red glow as I have seen on anything. He is a glowing fluorescence, nearly unnatural in contrast to his surroundings.  We relax and observe another bird. It has a look of a small kingfisher with a dignified chevron on his chest, white belly and black upper…hotub, pool.

A couple of times, a group of “mud people” walks through. They are covered head to toe in mineral mud, some partly dry and part wet. The effect is a camouflage pattern. They must continue to the far end of the pool, where it drains out in a waterfall, to bathe the mud off. They stop to be photographed.

We head back to break camp and text our local friends for an ETA. When they arrive, we catch up with each other, conversing in the hot tub at sunset.

The ducks do their nightly formation at an incredible speed, before bedding down for the night. The bats stir in the boathouse, emerging out of the windows. The trees are silhouetted in the bright orange backdrop. The mineral water heals us. We stay as long as we can, but it is a long drive back to Tucson.

We love the waters, the people and the tranquility at this place. There will be two more gatherings this spring and I suspect that we will make it to at least one of those.









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One thought on “Visiting the Cold Springs

  1. Pingback: Free Range 101 at the Hot Springs | The Free Range Naturist

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