A cold snap had descended over the west coast. The sun was an intense ball of fire in a clear winter sky, illuminating the icy mornings. On a chilly weekend, my partner and I escaped to a local getaway, a peaceful sanctuary boasting magnificent views of a vast lake nestled in the arms of the mountains. Hot springs bubbled from the earth, tinged with a trace of sulfur, forming wispy steam trails in the chill air. The waters were named “Warum Chuck” by the natives, and it was believed that as long as there was sickness in the land, the waters would always boil. These magical springs were thought to be a cure for many ailments, such as rheumatism, paralysis, skin conditions, syphilis, diabetes and much more. People come from miles around to indulge in their warmth and find relief for their afflictions. I was about to be one of them.
We arrived at the main hotel majestically standing along the beachfront. Tourist and locals’ flocked to this tranquil place to bathe in the warmth of the springs, soothe their aches and pains, and drift away into a state of luxurious relaxation. Three attractive pools were assembled in the belly of the hotel, surrounded by polished walkways and tiny bridges. Underground pipes worked tirelessly to syphon in the scalding water heated by the earth’s core for the guests’ pleasure. From behind glass doors, we shivered at the sight of frost glittering on the shorn blades of grass beneath the winter sun. We stepped outside, a single towel wrapped around our body, our flip-flops tapping over the frosted path. Steam lingered above the pools, cleansing the crisp air with a hint of sulfur. We stripped off our towels, shivering in the winter air with only our bathing suits for protection; goose bumps popped up all over my skin. We moved quickly towards the steaming pool, stepping gingerly to avoid an unwanted fall in the wet footprints around the deck. I stepped into the sultry water reveling in the soothing warmth that wrapped around my body. My goose bumps disappeared like stars blinking out in the dawn. Every sore swollen joint was instantly appeased. I have always enjoyed a hot bath to cool their angry inflammation, but there was something uniquely different about this water. It was Mother Nature in all her restorative glory stripping away the discomfort of arthritis. It was like dipping my body into a hot paraffin dip, the sulfurous heat coating my inflamed joints and removing the relentless throbbing ache. I floated in the shallow water, staring up at clear winter skies. I couldn’t believe I was submersed in water at 37 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit) while the temperature in the air hovered at zero. It was invigorating to feel the sting of the cold air against the intense heat of the springs. I emerged feeling years younger, reveling in the tingling of a renewed energy flowing through my body. My skin was soft and supple, as if its youthful elasticity had been restored.
Lounging in my own bathtub, immersed in the subtle fizz of bath salts, I look through the steam at a buttery ceiling, conjuring up the image of an unblemished winter sky and catching a whiff of that slight sulphurous smell. The worst of my symptoms diminished in the wake of those springs for almost a week. I can’t say for certain that it was a result of their legendary therapeutic powers or pure coincidence – I guess I’ll just have suffer the task of returning a few more times to verify the validity of their magical gift.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.
Totally awesome that you got that kind of relief. Getting out of pain is a great thing even if it does not last as long as we would like it.
Phil – Syracuse NY
Yes, and a little bit of luxury and relaxation was a perfect partner to a dip in the springs. That’s enough to help forget about any pain.Hope you are well. Best,J.G.
Oh, does that sound NICE! Like you, I’ve always loved soaking in a hot bath to soothe painful joints, so soaking in Nature’s bath sounds even better. And in such beautiful surroundings! I’m glad you enjoyed yourself so much, JG, and that the pool relieved your pain for a while. I hope you’ll get to go back soon!
Oh, it was lovely. And yes, it’s a gorgeous place settled in the midst of the mountains. I will be making plans to return again very soon 😉
Sooo interesting re: heat and joints. I seek hot baths to ease my aches (never ice although I know it has a useful purpose). It’s hot water that I crave and hot water that comforts. Wonder if anyone has studied this phenomena?
Baths are my favourite way to relieve my joint pain. I love the heat, seeing as I’m always cold 🙂 But I do use ice for my major flares – when my joints are hot and swollen, ice is usually the best thing to reduce the inflammation. I think it’s a very individual choice. Some people prefer hot, some prefer cold. Hope you are doing well 🙂
A good reminder to take a soothing bath when we can, even if it’s not at a hot springs getaway. Whether there was a placebo effect or a special power to the springs, the main thing is that at least it was as good as a hot bath at home. Have you ever tried a bath with Epsom salts specifically? Do you notice any difference between those and aromatherapy or other bath salts? I’ve heard that Epsom salts are good for soothing muscles, if not joints.
Yes, I’ve tried Epsom salts. I find they work for me; but I also love aromatherapy as it uses my senses to take me away. I think everyone needs to find what works best for them. This was my first experience with the hot springs, and the best thing about them, is they don’t start to cool after ten minutes of soaking 🙂 Also, I think the idea of getting away from regular life can be very powerful in the healing process. Thanks for stopping by. Stay well, J.G.
Looks like a lovely and relaxing place. I’m glad your symptoms abated for a few days. Water is healing, especially warm water. Definitely a place you might want to revisit often. Glad you got to experience it.
It’s a beautiful place only 90 minutes from my home. It’s a wonder I didn’t get up there much earlier, but now that I’ve tried it, I’ll be going back. Hope all is well with you.
Wow, JG… need to get there myself! I have just been diagnosed as Diabetic. It’s about time you found some comfort though, I’m happy for you. 🙂
I’m sorry to hear that Kev. Diabetes comes with its own set of challenges. Here’s hoping you don’t endure too many complications. And yes, I highly recommend a mini-break relaxing in some hot springs. It’s a wonderful way to recharge, no matter what your ailment. Cheers, J.G.