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Stay Wild

Deep Creek Hot Springs

34.339393°N 117.176963°W

Deep Creek is home to the Southwestern Arroyo Toad, an endangered species who lives in the sandy shore of the creek.

Photos and Story // Sera Lindsey

Hikers // Hannah Harding, Ashley Snively, and Nayung Chang.

Music // Ozarks // See them live at the Stay Wild EXPO

I typically don’t find myself in what could be called “college-student havens” very often. I didn’t when I was in college, either. “Secret spots” where you were bound to find condoms, broken bottles, cigarette butts, and poorly extinguished bonfires never made major appearances in my life. Perhaps I found it all a bit tacky. Yesterday, however, I ended up at Deep Creek. After a two-mile walk into the canyon, you’re suddenly surrounded by boulders, water, a healthy number of naked people enjoying the hot springs, the cool creek, and a possible 40 or joint. I laughed to myself upon seeing it. Phil and I walked through the cold water to what appeared to be a fraternity on a nature trip. Two boys fell into the middle pool, and one said, “Damn this one is biiiig.” The other in his Beavis & Butthead boxers confirmed: “The bigger the better, bro!” 

I have no idea why, but this shook me into a playful awareness of life. I giggled. Drunk people, stoned people, giddy people, naked people, people unsure of how naked they wanted to be, newbies, tenured elders, big dogs, little dogs, dreadlocked children, brown-skinned babies, pierced nipples, weird tattoos, and plenty of genitalia were all there in the hot water pouring from one pool into another, into another, into another. It was a lot to take in.  I worried about my bag getting wet, the rocky creek floor on my bare feet, and the crowd. I had expected a quiet Sunday, but expectations can definitely lead you astray, and make you miss whatever greatness is already there. A girl offered snacks to everyone, and we had fresh fruit in the sun. My body felt free, and the hodgepodge of culture was a perfect escape from the humdrum of a typical brunch crowd. People opened up about themselves, asked questions, talked about their lives... it was a great moment of sharing. Everyone was welcome. 

On the drive home we managed to sink the car into a ditch. The sun was nearly down and there was a moment’s pause. We laughed. Sighed. Phil got out his AAA card and before he could finish dialing, a car pulled up behind us. There was a novelty license plate which read “REDNECK,” and out from the car emerged two Mexican guys accompanied by a very large redhead. He proceeded to locate and wedge a plank under the tire while the others sat and bounced on the elevated car rear. We exchanged hugs and were gone in less than five minutes. 

I quietly considered the people we met. No one had left an individually lasting impression, but as a whole the day felt full of kindness. Humans surprise me constantly, and when I get away and let life simply be, without attempting to cater or shape a situation or experience... that’s when I’m most moved. There was nothing complicated about any of it. Simplicity can be stunningly powerful. 

All the looks featured in this adventure are from our friends at Patrons of Peace