Checking out Brighten Bush hot springs, not the retreat portion, proved to be way more epic than I anticipated. Meaning to hike Jefferson Park after hearing what gorgeous wildflowers were in bloom, I quickly changed my plans when I reached the trail head and rain drops began to fall. I considered my options, bailed on the hike, began the long 8 mile drive back down the gravel road, and journeyed 10 more miles west to the junction at Detroit Lake to Brighten Bush.
Although the post-apocalyptic aesthetic of degrading tiled tubs leaves something to be desired in the way of ombiance at the hot springs, and the left-behind beer bottles, tents, articles of clothing only adds to the eeryness, I was pleasantly surprised there was an explanation for both. Apparently, miners in the 1940’s had built up the springs as a make-shift spa after a long days work, perhaps not considering how quickly geothermal water will degrade any man made structure (typically springs are comprised of volatile and harsh elements/compounds including sulfur) and the present day “leave behinds” where likely from abandon drug camps.
To my surprise, a man and woman from CA decided to set up camp at the springs as well. That night we shared great dinner and company. Enjoying the evening so much in fact, at midnight, time had passed so quickly, we were all surprised to find a 10 person group of gentlemen forging the river to join us at the springs. Because the river is wide and waist deep, and the expedition appeared to be severely impaired by intoxication, we had ample time to robe and watch the shenanigans from shore. Confused for a moment, wondering if this was some kind of modern run way high fashion underpants show, I pondered why these gentlemen decided not to follow the trail from our side of the river thus avoiding the late night forge, and where their bathers were?
When I they made it safely across, after inquiry, they explained they were hosting an impromptu bachelor party and therefore thought it would be fun to cross the river and each had not brought a suit to the bar that evening, where they had decided to depart for the adventure. All made sense- or not. As the gentelmen ditched their underpants and splashed about in the tubs, a different kind of show started and I was forced to look away for fear I would corrupt my exceedingly spotless morals.
Eventually it began to rain and at 4am. Mic and I packed up camp and slept in the car. In retro-spect I think I made the right choice forgoing the Jefferson Park hike for a memorable evening at Brighten Bush. Post-apocalyptic or not.