I’ve taken a while to write this post about our trip to Cougar Hot Springs because I was so disappointed it didn’t turn out as planned. Cougar Hot Springs is located up the McKenzie River almost an hour away from Eugene. It’s made up of six connected pools fed by natural hot springs and it is absolutely beautiful. As this spot is pretty popular and clothing optional (especially the higher pools), we’ve never been. So when I heard there was a landslide blocking access and a little known backway to get there, I decided this was the perfect time for us to go and enjoy it.
We left decently early, about 11 am, and started our drive into the mountains. It was a nice sunny, yet chilly day and the views on the drive up were spectacular. I had stopped at Market of Choice beforehand and gotten some drinks, deli sandwiches, and fancy snacks. I couldn’t have been more excited, everything was going to be perfect. We turned off Hwy-126 just before Finn Rock and followed the forest road as the map had shown. Little by little, patches of snow started to appear on the side of the road. Eventually, the snow got too deep for my Outback to handle and we had to turn back. Then we got stuck.
I thought we were prepared for where we were going. We had plenty of food, water, and a blanket. I knew cell service would cut out and I had taken a screenshot of our map. What I hadn’t planned for was getting stuck in the snow or needing an e-tool to shovel us out. Chris remained calm and it rubbed off on me. After trying to dig us out for probably half an hour, and aggravating his shoulder which is missing some collarbone, he wedged a large stick long enough to cover the distance between the rear tires and we were able to use that for traction. It was horrible seeing him in pain on the drive home, especially since it was all for nothing.
After we got back down the hill, I took Chris to Onsen Hot Tubs to help relieve some of his back and shoulder pain. That place is amazing. We’d never visited them, even though they’re only a few blocks from the University of Oregon near where we live. The price was reasonable, $27 for two people per hour, and the setting was relaxing. Each private hot tub room is open to the sky and has large, leafy plants. We soaked in the warm water and enjoyed watching the rain as it mingled with the steam from the tub. Bonus: when I was checking the place out, I saw some otters playing in the river pond out back! Although things didn’t turn out as planned, we found a cool spot close to home that we can visit anytime we need a break.