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Soap Lake, Washington:
Spa in Our Backyard
by Eva Urbaniak, N.D.
We lovers of the outdoors, hikers, runners, bicyclists and skiers, after a long day in the hills have often spelled relief, "Hot Tub" or "Hot Bath." We can all agree that there is something very relaxing and soothing to body and soul in a hot bath. Ancient societies like the Greek and Roman empires knew the benefits of bathing ands built elaborate bath houses, some with special chambers where hot air was circulated beneath the floors and behind walls for the comfort of the bathers.

Here in the Northwest we are blessed to be surrounded by healing waters in the form of natural hot springs. Some that come to mind are Goldmeyer Hot Springs near Snoqualmie Pass, Sol Duk and Olympic Hot Springs over on the peninsula, and Baker Hot Springs in the North Cascades. But only a three hour drive east of Seattle lies one of Washington's best kept secrets, a spa seeker's dream come true, a highly mineralized lake called Soap Lake, with a small town named after it. The chemical composition of the lake water is nearly identical to Baden-Baden Germany, the world famous spa. It contains 16 minerals in varying amounts. For many centuries the Native Americans of the Washington and surrounding area nations brought their ailing people and animals to the lake for healing, and enjoyed playing games, gambling and socializing. The name given by the Native American people for Soap Lake was "Smokiam," which in their language meant "Healing Water."

The extremely alkaline, highly mineralized water of Soap Lake has been credited with curing such conditions as arthritis and rheumatism, skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, muscular pains and nervousness. It also seems to be the only known successful treatment for the rare Buerger's disease (Thromboangitis Obliterans). Since the only treatment that medical science has come up with is amputation of the affected limbs, one can easily see that taking a relaxing bath in this remarkable water would be most preferential. There are folks who have re-located and become long-time residents of Soap Lake who arrived as a last resort before amputation surgery and still have all their limbs and no sign of disease.
Of course, if Soap Lake water can do such miracles for sick people, imagine the benefits to someone who is healthy. The salty water has a strong sulfur-like odor and a very slick and slippery texture. It is best to be able to bathe in the water for weeks at a time, taking a minimum of two baths a day, but even a weekend excursion can provide benefit to anyone seeking some natural style relaxation. One lovely benefit of Soap Lake is that the lake water is pumped directly into homes and motels in closer proximity to the lake's edge, which enables one to enjoy the water at any temperature. Water should be warm, not hot, for older people.

So, if you are planning a trip across the Columbia to Eastern Washington this summer, or at any time of the year, treat yourself to a weekend treat/retreat do-it-yourself spa. Three hotels on the waterfront of Soap Lake that have Soap Lake water plumbed in to the rooms are Notaras Lodge, The Inn at Soap Lake, and the Tumwata Motel. Soap Lake offers all the comforts of home, with much peace and quiet, warmth and sunshine, breathtaking views of canyons that have remained unchanged since the Ice Age, and of course, the beneficial healing waters of Smokiam.

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