Okay, so its officially hot (finally!) and you know what that means...time to go find the water. There are definitely a lot of day trips to swimming holes in our future, but here's to hoping there'll be more long weekends of warm-weather camping like the one we just had at Lake Del Valle. Its probably obvious by now that I possess a very romantic ideal when it comes to the perfect weekender in the great outdoors and certain moods call for certain types of camping. Wintertime? Lots of trees, a good fire pit and plenty of whiskey. Maybe even a foggy beach. Definitely more of a me-and-Franklin-holding-hands sort of trip. But when the weather gets warm its a whole different story. Most of the time its still just Frankie and I, but what I want is completely different, namely water. You know, of the swimming-in kind. The closer to the tent the better and the hotter you can get the surrounding air the happier I'll be. So, in honor of the upper 80's I'm posting up some of my favorite warm-weather camping spots.
In case you can't tell (or infer from the heading) these are natural hot springs built out in the early 1900's along the Pit River when there was a resort or something nearby. Since they're a little hard to get to there were only a few people there when we pulled up and the pools were just beginning to fill up (there's a drain that you can plug if you're the first one there or unplug if you're the last). Three of the pools are built up from rock and ancient cement and another is dug out right on the river bank.
Since they're all right along the river, you can throw buckets of icy water into the pool if the temperature gets too high.
About halfway through our first day there someone told us there was another pool around the bend all by itself. On the walk over we found a perfect spot to set up camp on a little hill overlooking the river and not ten feet from what then became our own (nearly) private pool. It doesn't get much better than that.
Time for a soak? Big Bend isn't exactly close, but its so worth the drive if you have a few extra days. The pools are located outside the town of Big Bend which is about 5 miles northeast of Redding (we took I-5 north then the 299 east towards Burney). The directions to the actual pools are a bit tricky, especially since the resort/campground that used to run them closed up shop a few years ago. Basically, you need to take the 299 to Big Bend Rd where you'll turn left (north) and continue on until you hit the town of Big Bend. If you continue along past the town you'll get to a bridge and this is where many people park and walk along the river (heading west) about a mile and a half until you hit the pools (which on second though I believe are technically called Hunt and Kosk Hot Springs). The direct approach by car requires a bit more 4 wheel drive, though we did make it in Old Bluey, though (again) we might be an exception since we treat that poor old Volvo to all sorts of things its not really made to endure. Basically, if you've got a truck, you're fine, if not go scope it for yourself. Anyhow, by car you'll go the same way as before this time crossing the river and keeping an eye out for Forest Service Rd 3702 which should be about a mile past the bridge. After passing that road take the next small dirt road to your left (approximately 100 yards past the service road) and take a right at the first fork. You could also park here and walk down if the road seems too rutted. Either way you'll pass an old cemetery and then hit the river and the pools are just to your left. While we were there someone told us that the surrounding area was owned by Native Americans and somehow this meant you could legally camp there. Not sure if that's technically true, but we certainly weren't the only ones camping along the river so maybe its okay or maybe no one of authority really cares. Its definitely nice to be so close to the pools, but if you're coming in during the dark hours I'd suggest setting up at Deadlun instead. The name makes it sound like the perfect setting for some Friday the 13th action, but its actually a nice (free!) campground just a short drive away.