Return to the magical land of Tolovana
We had an enjoyable evening with our friends Eric and Jay. It took some coaxing to get me out to the springs, where luxury means a wooden horse trough with two hoses — one gushing with scalding spring water, and the other with 32.1-degree creek water. It's imperative to strip down fast, but only after ensuring you got the mixture right, otherwise you're going to have boiled legs and a frozen torso. The last time I went for a soak in the wind, I sustained frost-nip where ice-crusted hair pressed against my scalp. It was quite painful and has made me reluctant to return to an activity that I associate more with suffering than relaxing. I was going to make up an excuse and stay inside the cabin while the guys went for a soak. However, after hearty servings of hot chocolate, pizza and ice cream, the winds died down and I mustered up the confidence to venture outside. The water temperature was perfect as we watched trees sway in the breeze beneath an impressive meteor shower. I caught a glimpse of the brightest meteor I've ever seen — an orange fireball with a white tail, ripping through the moonlit sky.
So you can see, can't you, why Tolovana is a magical place? There are always surprises. The next morning, the wind was gone, and even though a respectable cold (-20) still lingered in the valleys, calm air made me feel impervious to the chill. After making a wide arc through the long night, the nearly full moon set over the mountains while we marched up the dome and ran down the other side. I raised my arms and took large, loping steps — flying, or more like moonwalking, through the surreal landscape with its glistening ghost trees and lunar plains.
It was an easy climb back to the trailhead — not much effort at all compared to the rewards. Frost-incrusted trees slumped over the trail like a crystal tunnel, sparkling in the early afternoon light. Simply magic.