7-Day Forecast for Scenic Hot Springs Area (2,900 ft near beginning of Trail Head)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bear Warning

It was reported to me that a couple sneaking up to the springs (with two dogs . . . pit bulls, one off leash) encountered the black bear on the upper BPA road near the second tower. Fortunately the bear wasn't interested in them . . . just looked at them as they backed off. Unfortunately, this bear seems to have claimed the territory and is at home around humans and human scent. We have to remember, though, that this is a female bear with at least one cub and the potential for coming between her and her cub is high. I've had at least six sightings in the last week at all times of the day.

Bears are normally shy but will become extremely aggressive if they perceive a threat to their young. Be aware . . . make noise and make sure the bear knows where you are. Surprises cause bad encounters. If you are faced with a problem:
  • DO NOT RUN! Running incites the chase instinct in bears. Stand your ground and back away slowly. Besides, a bear can sprint up to 35mph easily. You can't.
  • If you are stupid enough to bring a dog up (like this couple did), keep it leashed. A dog will want to face off against a bear and you will be the loser here when the bear responds predictably and aggressively.
  • Speak in a deep, calm, measured voice. DO NOT SCREAM! Shrill sounds remind bears of their prey. Sound bigger and confident.
  • Make yourself bigger . . . hold a pack over your head. The bear has no desire to fight unless it's young are at risk. Make it think twice.
  • Bear are great tree climbers; better than you. Forget that idea. However, bears are lousy at climbing the braces of the BPA towers. If you are close to one and the bear won't back off, get up on a BPA tower . . . potentially high enough for your cell phone to work.
  • As a last resort, fight back with everything you have, sticks, stones, etc. Do not play dead to a black bear (as opposed to a grizzly). Black bears will back off the moment threat is removed.
An observation . . . I went up there. Yeah, I'm crazy but careful. Noticed my warning sign on the gate had been torn down (thanks, you idiots). I followed the bear prints as best I could and they definitely went up the trailhead area. Bears are foragers, especially for the garbage we humans throw over the side of the trail. Think about that the next time you feed the wildlife up at the springs. Are we inviting troublesome bears to take up residence?

Bottom line? Well, you probably don't belong up there on private property anyway, but if you are going to continue to ignore the signs please keep in mind that this area is forest and wilderness . . . this is bear territory. Be aware and Be careful!

Sightings? Let me know.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Good Intentions-Misguided Expertise

I'd meant to post about people taking it upon themselves to 'improve' the hot springs but never really found the time. But I want to tell you about one such attempt and the effect it has had on the volume and temperature of the springs . . . and just how difficult it is going to be to correct the problem.

The main, upper springs are generally grouped as four sources:
  1. Lobster Upper
  2. Lobster Lower
  3. Bear Den West, and
  4. Bear Den East
The Lobster sources are typically the hotter of the sources max'ing out at around 122F. The upper spring emerges in an exposed crack in granitic bedrock from an easterly direction but what few know is that a second fracture is exposed less than a foot to the east that sends a slight amount of hot spring water to mix with the main flow.

Sometime last year, someone got the bright idea to go digging in the source fracture to increase the flow from the westerly side . . . hoping to increase the volume to the pool. Like I said . . . good intentions. So, he (or she) got down close and with chisels and hammers, widened out the hot seep . . . lo and behold . . . flow did increase and that person must have felt really copacetic about his (or her) accomplishments. They just improved the springs (not).

What they really did was mess things up. There is actually a fifth source . . . the aforementioned fracture to the west. It is a totally different spring and it's water temperature changes at a radically different rate than the original spring did. All winter, spring and into summer I have been wondering why temperatures in the main spring (Lobster Upper) have been off by two to five degrees and slowly the story of this person's misguided attempts has come out. The original spring is still there . . . and temperature consistent as always. Except now, we have a second spring mixing its waters just prior to egress from the bedrock. That second spring runs colder and brings down the fabled skin-reddening scorch of the original Lobster Pot.

It may seem a moot point in the middle of summer . . . but come fall, winter and spring those few degrees make all the difference in the soaking experience. Mike says it can probably be fixed but it won't be easy . . . having to approach the spring emergences from below. For now, we have to defer the problem until after construction.

It also brings to mind how carefully we must protect the spring sources not only from accidental tampering or contamination . . . but also from well-meaning people.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bear and her Cub

Update: The bear and her cub have been spotted several times and are indeed denning in the area of the lower tower. Today's sighting (7-15-2005) was in the middle of the day and both mom and cub were noted by a visiting couple. I have posted a warning sign at the gate. Rick

There is a female black bear and her cub (I saw one, there may have been another) that might be denning in the new foliage of the BPA clearcut area around the base of the first lower tower . . . the one you must pass close by as you enter the BPA Loop Road.

Since the foliage is very dense and lush right now, I'm unsure exactly where mama and her cub went but that foliage hems in pretty tight along the second by-pass trail on up to the upper BPA Road. I suspect a den because I watched the area for a good half hour and noted ma and cub stayed around the lower tower area until darkness forced me to give up. Mother and young en' had come up from much lower down as dusk was falling.

BTW, it was a nervous hike down the bypass trail with all that foliage pressing in and me not knowing exactly where that bear was . . . I figured I passed within 50 feet of them on the way down. So be careful up there . . . make lots of noise if you have to be on the trail near dawn or dusk.