Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Breitenbush Hot Springs . . . and a Jamaican Connection

Sacred hot spring pools of mineral-rich water that leave you feeling cleansed and healed from the burdens of the world.

Hiking trails through groves of old-growth cedars.

A sparkling and pristine river with icy, refreshing glacial water pouring out from the mountaintops of the high Cascades.
Rustic cabins nestled within a cathedral of tall trees.

A community of workers/owners dedicated to sustainability and right stewardship of this exquisite 154 acre parcel of land.
These statements are only a small description of what I found at a recent visit to Breitenbush Hot Springs in the central Cascade Mountains of Oregon.
The magical water that bubbles out of the earth into the beautiful rock pools is like no water that I had ever experienced before. It took me by surprise. I had heard this was a special place but my experience was so healing, relaxing and rejuvenating, that on my return home, I immediately booked a return visit.
Another delightful surprise was meeting Margaret Duperly, a Jamaican woman who has lived and worked at Breitenbush for many years. Jamaicans are truly everywhere! Even in the rural depths of the Oregon forest. Margaret is one of the Event Coordinators at Breitenbush and when I asked her about what was important for the people who live and work here, she directed me to their Credo, which they strive to embrace daily. An excerpt of the Credo:

We see ourselves as guardians of Breitenbush Hot Springs, safeguarding the Earth and healing water, assuring their continued availability to all beings who respect them. Our primary service is to provide a healing retreat and conference center that promotes holistic health and spiritual growth and facilitates the gathering of people in celebration of the experience of life.
Breitenbush is a sustainable community that is completely off the grid. How do they do it? From harnessing the energy from the water. From their website:
The power of the river and heat from the hot springs combined with simple living allow us to thrive in this sanctuary without significant dependence on fossil fuels. Our small hydroelectric plant produces about 40 kilowatts, the amount of electricity typically used in three urban homes. And yet it supports a community of over 55 full time residents and up to 135 guests. In its early years (1977-1980), the Breitenbush Community drilled several geothermal (literally “heat from the earth”) wells and developed the technology to use that natural hot water to heat our buildings. Today over 100 buildings, from the guest cabins to the greenhouse are kept cozy year round making Breitenbush the largest privately owned geothermal facility in the Pacific Northwest.
From my brief first visit, I can attest to the fact that the circle of community members at Breitenbush are more than achieving their mission. This city-dweller who craves time and healing in nature is so grateful for their efforts to preserve and offer this magical place for the rest of us. Copyright©Kathy Stanley.

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  1. My kind of place... heaven on earth. Ellen and I hiked to a couple of other hot springs in the Cascades, but not this one. If memory serves they were Bagby (lovely hike but the springs were developed in stalls for bathing) and Cougar (beautiful springs but too accessible by car -- we ran into a a van load of Deadheads who asked to borrow my towel).
    Someday I will have to visit Breitenbush!

  2. Hi Bo, thanks for checking out the post. You would love Breitenbush. I've heard about Bagby - people here tell me that there have been problems there - apparently there is a group now trying to clean it up http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2009/04/guardians_watch_over_bagby_hot.html