Swimming under snow clouds


It’s the dead of winter. Temperatures are barely above freezing and the afternoon sun and blue skies are veiled by thick, gray clouds; yet, here I am, teeny bikini and all, taking a dip in the community pool. God, I love hot springs.

Growing up in Florida, the ocean and swimming pools were like a surrogate mother. A swim in my Papa’s pool was a daily ritual and reward for me, and I developed gills by the time I was 10. Which makes me feel out of sorts when I move myself to a place like Colorado where nobody has a swimming pool, the ocean is almost 1,000 miles away and water is so precious there is a constant worry of whether the supply is ever enough.

Luckily, I moved to a special part of the state where I never have to worry about being far from a body of water. The Ouray Hot Springs pool still gives me an opportunity to relive winter days spent swimming in my grandparents’ backyard pool.

Ouray’s pool is like a giant bathtub, minus the bubbles. Waters reach just over 100 degrees making it warm enough to soak even as snow is falling (I have yet to try this but will soon). Naturally sourced and gravity fed from Box Cañon (where water temperatures can be as high as 150 degrees) about a mile away. It is one of the community’s greatest assets, one of my favorite places to relax, and one that I should find myself in more often.

It’s odd though, because I’m typically not a fan of public pools what with the potty-training children splashing nearby and the chlorine pumps running in excess. However, the hot springs are different than the neighborhood pools I’m used to. The summer months can be overflowing with children running and screaming, but there’s still a calm I get when I look up and see the snow-capped peaks of the mountains surrounding me.

During the winter months, it’s even more peaceful as the season is slow and things are quieter at the pool. While I usually find myself taking a dip after extraneous physical activity (ie. running a half-marathon or summiting a 14er), yesterday afternoon we decided to go for a swim because it was a holiday and we had nothing else to do. And days like yesterday where I can relax in a hot pool with a good book in hand are the perfect end to a long weekend.

Parting thoughts: How do you like to relax on long weekends? Ideally, I would love to spend a long weekend taking a medium-length road trip to the middle of nowhere, set up camp for a night or two and just be. No cell phone service, no traffic, nobody else. Good thing I live in the mountains, huh?


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