• Aria Zoner

The Hot Springs Trail's First Thru-hiker


Welcome to a new style of adventure, thru-soaking! On August 25th, 2016, the Hot Springs Trail was successfully completed for the first time as a thru-hike by a (2X) Triple Crowner hiker who took on a challenge that was issued during an interview I did on The Trail Show podcast (Episode 37). Just 10 months later, inspired by the promise of hot springs and summits, Bernie Krausse left from Santa Barbara with his partner Stacey Mathews. Armed with only the earliest version of The Hot Springs Trail Official Guidebook, they found paradise - and soaked in it!


Bernie Krauss - on The Hot Springs Trail


Besides an abundance of bliss, they also had numerous hardships to face - like blisters and burrs. And tough choices to make - like "Should I stay another day?"


The following videos will take you on this adventure, from Santa Barbara to Canada. But as you'll see, unlike Bernie, I took an official bike-packing option which comes into play near the end of The Nevada Trail.


Although revealing and in-depth, this series only touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the natural beauty and sheer wonder that is waiting to be experienced on this trail.



PART 1: The Coast Connect Trail


The first order of business on this trail is enjoying the beach before beginning the journey. Then, it's off to remote canyons and open ridgelines. Nearing the end of the CCT, a long and partially trail-less walk along Lake Isabella leads to more beaches and private places to swim. Cold plunging is an important part of this trail and an excellent way to start or finish a hot soak.


To Another State - by Aria Zoner

Grab my juice, grab the mic then I let loose.

Thoughts be falling from my head like fruit from the tree.

Boost up my skills. I’ve been known to climb hills.

Travel the desert. Gather sage. Watch for quills.

This is where the new hiker highway’s getting drilled.

No more private lands and no more roads, damn!

I’m on my own, in the dirt is where the bloom is grown.

And I always got my compass so I make it home.

Which to me means out on the roam.

I chill in sacred places and refer to these as zones.

Some days I atone and remain still.

Then others I’m like grasshoppers jumping in the flower field.

I’m excited for Little Caliente.

Where the pools are deep and the soaking is excellent'e.

Ah yo, hey! Look out for the ranger.

To Big Caliente Hot Springs I’m no stranger.

I’m not just thru-hiking, I’m thru-soaking.

Chilling in the shade having a good time no joking.

Looking around, what I see makes the good vibes compound.

Ah man I better calm down.

Turn up the heat, I’m ready to sweat therapeutically.

Rejuvenating me so beautifully.

I survive earthquakes, overcome drought, keep my body in shape.

I’m ready to take it to another state.

A place I learn, a place where animals get their turn.

A place where I can spread my wings free from harm.

In the day I’m in the lowlands with the willow.

But at night I’m up high with a view from the pillow.

Then I awake and motivate and cross another state.

How many legs does a ladybug have? It’s not 8.

I stop a lot and look around as I’m cruising ‘round.

Despite how it may seem from the miles that I’m throwing down.

I search for views like a scanner.

I don’t even care if the guidebook’s got bad grammar.

With views like this! In no time I’ll be shoeless.

Soaking in the next hot springs. Oh! Who’s this?

A lonesome miner eating lettuce.

I wear running shoes not Sorels. Morels I had for breakfast.

Although my heart’s as big as Texas.

Sometimes my body gets tired and I have to rest it.

I’m not just thru-hiking, I’m thru-soaking.

Chilling in the shade having a good time no joking.

Looking around, what I see makes the good vibes compound.

Ah man I better calm down.

Turn up the heat, I’m ready to sweat therapeutically.

Rejuvenating me so beautifully.

I survive earthquakes, overcome drought, keep my body in shape.

I’m ready to take it to another state.

With a fresh resupply, I walk on water and remain dry.

I got the High Sierra in my eye.

On the lake. I feel great. Contemplate. This is a healthy state.

And it’s exactly what I had in mind.

I remember when I left from Santa Barbara.

They said I’d never make it this far, I’d be a goner.

But Part 1’s done. Cold plunge. I reached my goal son.

For this day, I just sit blissed away. Mind’s blown. Done!



PART 2: The High Sierra Hot Springs Trail


Contemplating on the ocean, it's easy to envision a SOBO hike of this trail - with the Pacific Ocean being the end point. The bonus with this option would be getting to hike the High Sierra section in the fall. Being that it's late May for us now, we've got deep snow to surpass and flooded creeks to get across.


Forget a towel though, just bring your climbing legs. Look out Kings Canyon here we come!




PART 3: The Nevada Trail


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk across Nevada? Probably not. Me neither, until I went out there. Not only does Nevada have the most natural hot springs and named mountain ranges of any state, but it also has one of the most diverse wildlife profiles and a reputation for incredible sunsets. See why this route deserves National Scenic Trail recognition.




PART 4: The Idaho Soaktennial Trail


Are you liking the soundtrack for this series so far? I hope so. Maintaining a good rhythm is useful when trying to complete a long-distance journey.




I hope you've enjoyed your time here and can someday go out and visit these sacred places for yourself. Like Bernie, all you have to do is take the first step.



The entire Hot Springs Trail might be best summed up by what Drew "Dreams" Reams said after he became the first person to complete The High Sierra Hot Springs section, in 2015:


"A great challenge with huge rewards!"


What are Bernie's thoughts on the trail?


"You've got something amazing here Zoner"


I invite you to go see for yourself.


Congratulations Bernie!


Follow Bernie along his adventures, HERE >



Interested in becoming a thru-soaker? First, Become A Subscriber >



Read The Dreams Report Here >


Soundtrack by:


Part 1 - CCT: Thovo - Autumn Vibes


Part 2 - HSHS: Soldier - Swayzee Addict / Orchard Music - Jazz Like That


Part 3 - NVT: JAW - Parental Advisory / Andreas Klamm Sabaot - Dance and Sing for Love


Part 4 - IST: Good.To.Go - She's Away / Banger Committee - Sick Beat / Positivepsyche - Washers We Become / Funky DL - None Love


...and Aria Zoner



#HotSpringsTrail