Cougar Hot Springs are like an It’s-It Ice Cream Treat:
- It’s uncomplicated as far as it lets the ingredients speak for themselves.
- It’s unquestionably good from a value for money perspective.
- But it’s over more quickly than you’d like, unless you make an attempt to savour it.
At the foot of Cougar Hot Springs you will meet the Enchanted Gnome, protector of this aquatic realm. He disclaims to you, as he must to all travellers, that dropped trou lies ahead. You consent with a knowing wink and pay your nominal $6. Taking a big swig out of his gallon-sized coffee goblet, this rosy-cheeked friend bids you good bathing, and points up towards the path ahead. There is only one road leading to Cougar: along a steep and unrailed ledge, then through the thick Cascadian greenery. The trail and the baths themselves are not embellished. A verdant fernscape surrounds the bases of impossibly towering trees–D-Firs in Portland hipster parlance. After a quarter mile walk you spot the wooden construction, enough to hang your clothes up but not to house a shower.
The 4 baths themselves are products of intentional rock rearrangement that divert hot spring water to trickle rather than rush down the hill. Given that the water cascades between the pools, the hottest lies at the top, which is comfortable enough even in the midday sun. If you’re looking for a scalding McCafé experience these may not be your baths. The hot springs are not designed with seating in mind, but a group of ten Tetris masters could optimize a pool. Due to the natural roughness, interpool navigability requires some degree of scampering and creative perching lest you pumice your perineum. The demographics we found there ranged from Nordic parent/adult-child trios, fruit offering Gaia couples, and lone wolf semicreepers with faithful canine companions. You might well be the recipients of wafting sage smoke, a nug, or a haphazardly sliced watermelon.
Even if you take a luxurious 15 minutes per tub, the running time is only a third of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (in which you can glimpse the aforementioned Gnome in minute :56). A typical time extension strategy at these places consists of out-of-water relaxing. The lack of lounging planks at Cougar make these intermissions challenging to take. Coupled with lack of on-site drinking water, an entire round here is capped at about an hour.
If the major things on your mind are that your boss is a wanker and you haven’t got your mom a present for her birthday yet, then Cougar will not be the most generous gelato. However, if you’re armed with the attention to really appreciate this melting ice cream of a hot springs, there’ll be plenty to lick off your fingers.