Summer Of 99--historical Soak
Bathing in the Tassajara hot springs brings a sense of relaxation and connectedness.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
To the native Ohlone Indians, the natural hot springs below Chews Ridge in the Santa Lucia Mountains were powerful healing waters. For the pioneers 150 years ago who braved the grueling stagecoach trip into Carmel Valley, 14 miles up the ridge and down the other side, the hot springs were a relaxation and Tassajara Creek a source of fresh water.
Tassajara today is a Buddhist retreat but is still open to bathers May through August. And although the journey to get there is still a tiring, dusty, two-hour drive from Carmel, it''s well worth it and makes a great summer escape.
In fact, the drive is half the fun...well, OK, maybe a third of the fun. The actual mileage is not that fun--only about 30 miles to Jamesburg on paved road and 14 miles on dirt to Tassajara--but the winding length is hard, unbelievable to imagine in a stagecoach.
The views are amazing after climbing 5,000 feet to the peak of Chews Ridge.
Coming to Tassajara for a day of soaking is possible (adults, $14/weekdays, $17/weekends), but an overnight stay is recommended because of travel time. Reservations must be made, usually weeks ahead for overnight guests, because of the limited cabin and room space. The naturally hot mineral water is piped into pools in separate men''s and women''s bathhouses. The 110-degree "plunge" pool is only good for five or 10 minutes until you might start to feel light-headed. The 100-degree rock-lined pool is just across the outdoor sun deck, with a steam room behind the pool. Steps lead down to Tassajara Creek, with its natural pool of cold mountain water. Dip into all three in succession and you''ll feel exhilarated beyond words. Drinking water and bug spray are two must-haves; insects are attracted to the sulfuric mineral water smell in droves and will give you no rest when you lay on the deck.
Tassajara/San Francisco Zen Center reservations: (415) 865-1895 or (831) 659-2229.