Into the Woods

On the trail to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, Idaho. Dec 25th, 2018


Yesterday, while Mike and I were hiking through the woods amid the winter wonderland-scape en route to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, we were trying to figure out how many years we’ve been upholding the tradition of hot springing on Christmas Day. The best we could figure is that it’s been around 10 years.

Here’s to having lovely holiday traditions that allow our hearts to crack open just a little bit more with every passing.

I’ve walked these woods
10,000 times,
carried them with me
through every turning of day
and maturation of thought

I’ve made use of their good tidings
as cordage to anchor me home

and when storms have raged,
as they have tendency to do,
I’ve held firm to their wisdom
of  resiliency and strength,
so that I may learn
when to sway
and when to shed



I made a 6-minute video montage of our excursion yesterday – here it is! (And it’s set to my newest favorite song: Trevor Hall’s You Can’t Rush Your Healing.)



Back to the Woods

dscn5229Jerry Johnson Hot Springs trail, December 25th, 2016, Idaho

Becoming part of a winterscape thick with cedar,
walking tall among elder trunks
and undergrowth buried in snow,
we communed with a part of ourselves
that often lies dormant.

Under nature’s influence
we can be guided back to what has been forgotten.
And when we are ushered
from our slumber to remember,
we will continue to return,
over and over,
back to the woods.


Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Suspension bridge over the Lochsa River, Idaho

Suspension bridge over the Lochsa River, Idaho

My husband and I have an annual tradition of spending Christmas Day at one of our favorite places, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs in Idaho.  It’s about an hour and a half drive west from Missoula, Montana.  Traveling from town you know you’ve reached the trailhead when you see the beautiful suspension bridge stretching over the Lochsa River (shown above).  There’s a nice large parking area across highway 12 from the bridge.

Warm Springs Creek, next to the trail leading to the springs

Warm Springs Creek, next to the trail leading to the springs

The skies above were clear blue and filled with winter sun streaming down through the evergreen forest.  Due to its popularity the 1 1/2 mile trail to the springs is always well worn no matter the time of year.  The springs are natural and the hike is on a pretty easy trail.  Sometimes it can be quite icy so during the winter months having yak tracks for your shoes is totally money well spent.  We visit the springs often throughout the year – for me it’s always a good day when I trek to the pools.  There is great medicine in getting out in the woods.

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Daily Practice – Day 10


Today’s hike to Jerry Johnson’s Hot Springs in Idaho

Day 10 – This morning I awoke a few minutes before my alarm was to go off.  Knowing I would have a full day of plans I made the quick decision to simply sit up and do my 6 minutes of meditation before my alarm was to sound.  Without a trip to the bathroom, sleepy eyed and all I met the morning straight away by practicing meditation.  I know myself well enough not to delay my sitting until the evening when I can be quick to lay down and rest for the remainder of the night at early hour.

My 13-year old step-son is on spring break this week and so today after breakfast he and I and a young friend of ours took a trip to Jerry Johnson’s (JJ’s) Hot Springs in Idahdo, about an hour and a half from where we live in Montana.  It is one of my very most favorite places to go.  After a wooded 1.5 mile hike beside the Lochsa River a few natural hot pools encircled by rocks sit beautifully in the earth.  Since moving here in 1998 I have frequented JJ’s many dozens of times throughout all four seasons and every time I go I see clearly that I am watering seeds of healing, joy, ease and connection with every hike and soak.

Today at Jerry Johnson's Hot Springs

Today at Jerry Johnson’s Hot Springs

Things I noticed or thought about today in the woods:

Cultivating my relationship with the present moment comes effortlessly in the forest

Nature nourishes the widening of my self/world perspective

Getting in touch with the earth, water and air elements helps to ground my thoughts and emotions

Our growing up young people have difficulty knowing what to do with themselves without a computer or cell phone in arm’s reach

Food tastes better when you eat next to a sun drenched river

I often take for granted what I am afforded in life

Beauty doesn’t just exist in certain pockets when the conditions are right, beauty is inherit to life in all things

Connecting with the natural land helps me to connect with myself


A cairn I made next to the Lochsa River

Breathing in I feel the sun shining through me

Breathing out I feel the river flowing all around me

Breathing in I take refuge in mother earth

Breathing out I smile

My pocket buddha sitting on highway 12 in Idaho

My pocket buddha sitting on highway 12 in Idaho