Ever notice how folks who live in an area like to "brag" about their town. I've received priceless information from such folks about different things to see and do when I'm traveling in their neck of the woods. One such local I met while camping at Hickison State Park told me of Spencer's Hot Springs. Dave, a retired teacher, claimed that Spencers was a "must" since I'd be driving past the access road on SR376. "Regular users of the springs have made some improvements like laying astroturf around the site (to keep people from tracking mud into the baths). Take the dirt road just south of the 50/376 which runs southeast." Trusting his directions and luck, I steered down the graded road. Half a dozen miles down the road, I saw a camper and van parked 1/4 mile off the road. Taking another dirt road, I headed toward a green patch of desert I spied.
Sure enough, there it was. A large cattle-feeding bin, eight feet in diameter was surrounded on one side by astroturf. A firepit was located off to the other side. A 4" PVC pipe ran between the spring uphill and edge of metal bin turning it into a hot tub. Water from the pipe flowed half in, half out of the tub; Had it flowed completely into the tub, the collected water would have been much too hot to safely soak in. Printed on the side of the pipe was a warning that the water flowing through was 192 degrees explaining why the water was steaming. Printed on the side of the tub was a request that users rinse off soap before entering. Out of deference to the folks camped a 1/4 mile away, I donned my swim suit, cracked open a cold beer and slowly immersed myself in the tub. Glorious is the only word I can use. The water washed away aches, pains and muscle stiffness I didn't realize I'd had. As my fingers began to wrinkle, I hopped out, lathered up rinsed with the provided gallon container hanging on a nearby post. Dragged a razor across my face using water I didn't have to first heat, a novelty on this trip! With a clean body and a renewed spirit, I left a wooden pallet (as thanks) for the regulars to use in their firepit. I also "planted" four plastic pinwheel flowers, having a hearty chuckle when two small butterflies appeared from nowhere to circle and investigate the new plantings!
Before leaving the area, I saw what looked like two caves a short distance
away. Thinking that it might be worth a look, I headed over, passing the
van I'd seen parked earlier. A couple waved as I approached.
Stopping, we exchanged greetings. They were a couple of the regulars I'd
mentioned earlier. Asking why they were parked so far from the hot tub,
they smiled. "Drive 'round the to the other side of this mound",they instructed.
There was another hot spring, perhaps the original Spencer's Hot Springs.
Constructed in a circle, the hot water from the spring was captured through
a series of pipes and valves in a below-ground tub featuring a flat rock
floor and seats seemingly fitted together by a master craftsman. Indoor/outdoor
carpeting protected the spring from mud being tracked into it.. "Most visitors
stop at the first spring" they said, "just like you did!" Next time I'll
know better. The "caves" were the remains of the abandoned Linka mines,
I was told. I didn't bother investigating because I'm sure the urge to
look inside would have been too great, over-ruling good sense. Exploring
abandoned mines is both foolhardy and dangerous. Dry-rotted timbers, pools
of water hiding dangers, rattlesnakes escaping the day's heat, bad air
and forgotten, unstable explosives make abandoned mine exploration a past
time for experts, not the inexperienced visitor.
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