My visit to Spence Hot Spring, on a day of hiking in the Jemez, New Mexico area, was entirely by accident. Just to the north of Soda Dam on NM 4, on the east side of the road, is a trail head parking area. I stopped to take in the view and decided to hike the trail. The sign at the trail head is very generic, and gave no indication that the trail led to Spence Hot Spring. However, down the trail there is a wooden marker indicating Spence Hot Spring is ahead.
The trail descends from the parking area through a series of switchbacks to the Jemez River. A bridge takes you across the river and then the trail climbs up a slope to the spring. The trail runs beside a small stream created by the overflow from the pools fed by the spring.
The spring forms a couple pools that people use for recreation. This being an unplanned visit, I did not have my swimsuit, and besides the pools were full. (Yes, the word is that clothing is optional … but everyone had exercised the option to wear clothing this day. Officially, nudity is against the law and you can be cited by a Ranger.)
The trail goes on up the mountain beyond the hot spring. My intention was to continue along the trail to a Geocache, but the clouds were rumbling and drops of rain were beginning to fall. I did not want to be caught on the mountain in a thunderstorm, and have to hike back wet and cold, so I turned back. My geocaching fanny pack is going to include a disposable poncho in the future.
For this hike, I had my Garmin GPS 76C turned on and recording the track. Somehow, it had gotten locked onto the road. Some button-pushing got the device to track actual position. Just goes to show that software bugs show up in unexpected places.
Due to the “lock onto road” issue, the initial track for this hike is inaccurate. Also, there is an inaccurate elevation. The vertical component of GPS is much less accurate than the horizontal components, which is why high end GPS receivers include a barometric altimeter.
About the Photos
These photos were taken with my iPhone, because my regular camera was with my daughter on her Senior class trip. There is not much that can be controlled on the iPhone camera — the focus is fixed, the aperture is fixed, and the camera picks its own exposure. A little cropping in iPhoto and that’s it.
There are more pictures available in my Picasa web album. Click on the slide show below to see all the pictures from my day trip to the Jemez Mountains.
Village web site gives descriptions and directions to hot springs in the Jemez Springs area.
Forest Service site describing Spence Hot Springs and related recreational activities.
A list of natural and developed geothermal assets in NM.