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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.

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