As I was wandering in the desert, an old man in a bathrobe left me.
Now it was time to start following him!
At the bottom of an ancient lake
The entire town of Tecopa was out of cell phone range.
I had inadvertently arrived in town without checking the location of wild hot springs.
When I was looking for the place that looked like it, I found a hippie-looking old man.
Bathrobe in the desert...
He must be heading to the hot springs, so I followed him.
The dry land of Tecopa was at the bottom of an ancient lake until about 10,000 years ago.
The brittle soil is a remnant of it.
In a desolate landscape that rejected vegetation, reeds grew only around the hot springs that spouted their water.
Only a few minutes' walk from the paved road led me to the swamp.
It was an easily accessible hot spring, just difficult to find the trailhead.
The surrounding soil had a toxic color due to the precipitation of mineral elements.
The front side of the long and narrow shaped swamp was lukewarm, about 90 degrees F.
The water temp was getting hotter and hotter as I went deeper.
There was a sign.
This wetland appears to be home to an endangered species of rodent called Amargosa Vole
A note explaining that they are found only around the natural hot springs of Tecopa in the world.
Incidentally, Amargosa is a place name derived from the Spanish word Amargo, meaning bitter, and a dry river called the Amargosa River runs through the area toward Death Valley.
The water was muddy, but not so much because of the quality of water, but rather because of the fine mud that had accumulated at the bottom of the ancient lake.
When I reached the far end, bubbles were intermittently generated from the bottom of the pool.
I could see that water outlets were concentrated around here.
The water temp was 111 degrees F, a bit hot for a soak.
The wetland is not only home to rare animals, but is also a treasure trove of creatures that survive the harsh natural environment.
There have been reports of nasty tick bites.
I carefully examined the water's edge and wondered if I should take a dip, but the hippie was swimming naked next to me.
I began to feel somewhat foolish, so I soaked so as not to startle the voles.
The deepest point was about 3 feet.
The bottom was fluffy mud, but it had a good feeling of grounding, so it was not as scary as a bottomless swamp.
It was accompanied by a faint sulfur smell.
When the hippie guests left, I was finally alone in the desert.
The area was completely silent, even I could hear my own heart beating.