Alaskan Fire and Ice
The most relaxing thing I found to do in Alaska, in temperatures that froze my beard in seconds, was wear nothing but my swimming shorts and head into the boiling hot waters of Chena Hot Springs. The Springs had a mystical feel to them as the visibility could close to a few meters as steam rose from the pool, this was magical late at night in the moonlight. Unlike other hot springs I have bathed in the waters were not plagued with a strong smell of sulphor (that rotten egg smell) and just a vague whiff hung on the air every so often.
Chena Hot Springs was packed with elderly Japanese tourists hoping that they may catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis by night and were soaking in the pools by day. Their swimwear was uniquely theirs, unlike their winter clothing which was provided by the tour company and meant they all matched. This made for a very cute image as clusters of Japanese tourists waddled round in their red or blue outfits, depending on which tour group they were a part of.
The air was so cold that it meant that after a pre-shower and then heading outside resulted in my hair, eyelashes, beard and any other hair for that matter turning into a spiky shards of ice within minutes. This felt weird and fascinating and got many “ooo’s” from fellow bathers.
The waters in the Hot Spring were boiling. To the point that I couldn’t stand the heat in places. The only way I could cope was to stand half out of the water and let the -30 air cool me down. But when this wasn’t enough I had to grab snow and ice from the surrounding rocks and rub in on my shoulders to cool off. It was a bizarre experience, being far too hot in the coldest climate I have ever been in!