Global Traveler|April 2020
AT THE SPRINGS RESORT & SPA in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, I’m soaking in a tub called “Lobster Pot.” From the color of my skin — crimson — that nomenclature seems about right. Today’s posted temperature reads 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Ouch. Or glorious. I can’t decide. I take a whiff of the fresh, high-altitude, chilly air and ease further into a watery mélange of 13 curative minerals, a medley composite that ranges from sulfur to potassium to lithium, among others. Submerged in water from the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring, I feel like an ingredient in a salubrious stew.
Balneotherapy and hydrotherapy are two lofty terms that refer to healing by the use of water. But the ritual of soaking for optimal health dates back centuries, perhaps millennia. Even animals and apes intuitively seek hot springs for healing. Think of the macaques (snow monkeys) who luxuriate in Japan; the horse in Avène, France, who legendarily cured his own skin disease four centuries ago in a silica-rich mineral spring (now frequented for eczema relief by humans); or the black bears who wander into backyard whirlpools and splash about as gleefully as teenagers. Ancient humans followed suit. Well-worn paths leading to hot springs around the globe attest to that. For indigenous peoples, thermal water (and the sea) counted as strong medicine.
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