Soaking in the Sierras

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘this is what it is to be happy.” -Sylvia Plath

On the eve of another trip into the mountains (this time, the Colorado Rockies!), I thought I would recap my last foray into the Sierras over New Year’s Eve week.

Back in the fall of 2014, my sister and I decided that we wanted to get out of town for New Year’s Eve. We didn’t want to be in the City, we wanted a low-key destination, and most importantly, we wanted to do something we would both enjoy.

It didn’t take long to decide on soaking in hot springs in the mountains! But of course!

So off we went to Sierraville to spend some time at Sierra Hot Springs.

Sierraville is about 30 minutes north of Truckee, which is the boutique-y gateway town to the popular Lake Tahoe vicinity and the area’s ski resorts.

Sierraville is a tiny settlement, just one stop sign, which sits in a valley surrounded by soft mountain peaks. It’s a world away from Tahoe.


There’s one main intersection, a Mexican restaurant, one gas station, a feed store, and the Globe hotel which is owned by the hot springs (which is where we stayed).



I love these small mountain towns. Love the space, love the vibe, love the friendly people. Love that no one is in a rush.

Erica and I got our morning coffee and tea fix from the sole cafe in town. The owner of the cafe was playing guitar when we walked in, I had a friendly chat with the cute barista, and it just felt downright homey.


The hot springs are located off a dirt road just outside of town. There’s a main lodge, and a few different pools to choose from. We stayed in the Temple Dome area, which has the sauna, a large warm pool, and a very small sand-bottom warmer pool.


On New Year’s Eve, we bundled up, braved the 10 degree temps for the 10 minute walk to the Dome area, and relished in the relative quiet of NYE under the stars feeling the tingling of our nerves as we cycled between hot and cold, sweat and ice, solitude and camaraderie. My worries melted away as I soaked, truly practicing presence. Truly soaking in all the Sierras have to offer.

As it got closer to midnight, we noticed it was getting busier, so we left the springs and welcomed in 2015 from the comfort of the hotel communal dining room as we nibbled on a few snacks and sipped on champagne. The hotel was eerily quiet and we were in bed by 1am.  Our low-key NYE was complete.

The next day, we opted for a walk in the forest. The air was crisp, the snow crunchy, but not too deep to require snowshoes, and the sun was shining in through the tree canopy.

We had one of those conversations as we walked, the kind that goes all over the place, but still feels focused and just right. We talked about our hopes and dreams for the year, what we’re grateful for, and yes, even caught up on gossip as we admired the surrounding winter landscape.


The parking lots at the hot springs were full when we returned from our hike. Not wanting to squeeze next to that many bodies, it was an easy decision to hang out by the fireplace in the Main Lodge instead.


The next morning, we soaked one last time and our timing was perfect with just a few other early-risers around (okay, so it was 10am!).

I had a moment or two of pure bliss in which nothing else existed in my world, not my past, not my future, just that moment.

Next, it was off to Tahoe to spend my pre-birthday evening. It was a lovely scenic drive down to South Lake Tahoe.



However, South Lake Tahoe itself just wasn’t my scene. Well, you learn something new each day, am I right? We did have a delicious dinner so there was that.


Despite the somewhat unflattering ending to our mountain escape, it was an awesome few days spent with my best friend laughing, smiling, breathing in deep, and being present.


One comment

  1. Oma Less · · Reply

    Sam: Another beautiful article. I loved reading about you and Erica on NYE. What a wonderful way to celebrate a new year. i am getting better, slowly. Love you, Oma

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