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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Insanity at Bagby: Getting trapped in a winter storm

An enlightening recap of one couple's visit to Bagby Hot Springs only to be caught under the full brunt of the winter wind storm that hit the Cascades on Dec 12-13th, 2006. Bagby is a very popular natural hot spring in the National Forest east of, and reasonable close to Portland, Oregon. The original discussion thread was posted in the Soak.net forums.

After some light snowshoeing near government camp. My gf and I headed for Bagby hot springs. We arrived around 3pm and were greeted by a nice couple who planned to camp. The weather was calm and seemingly stable. On the trail my gf and I passed two men with hoods who stepped off the trail to avoid us, they said nothing, who knows what they were up to.. With our personal safety in mind we decided not to soak until the couple showed. They arrived and headed for the back pool, Four russians were following and they chose the lower pool, my gf and I decided the Honeymoon tub was ideal. No more than five minutes in the pool and at about 6:00pm the winds began to howl... a few branches came down, then we heard rotten tops dropping, echoing like gunshots from just a couple hundred feet to several miles away... Without a word we were dressed and were conversing with the russians. They didn't seem to grasp the concept of a forest falling apart but quickly got the picture. My gf and I along with the other couple took shelter in a hollow log and the russians took shelter somewhere in the complex, time went on and we heard yelling and saw a flashlight, I believe they only had one between them. The russians were attempting to go for their vehicle, senconds after they went it was a cataclysm of events, hearing 50 to 100 trees fall in just seconds, assuming that landslides carrying everything had blocked the trail and surely killed them. All we could do was pray. We waited for over 4 hours in the middle of this mess. Out of desperation we charged the trail climbing over several insane blow downs that were 3 and 4 feet in diameter. Dodging falling limbs we made it to the car only to find more trees blocking the road..I pondered squating in the concrete outhouse, the surrounding trees were just way too big. I even considered hiding under a concrete bridge before the log but also canned that one due to the river rising past flood stage, plus I was wet and felt hypothermic, so we parked our cars.. tried to close our eyes and accepted our situation..it was miserable being in that box hearing the madness outside and wondering when a tree was going to pick us. Around 4 am the temperature dropped and snow began to fall. Several inches accumulated.. my gf and I decided then to get the hell out of there and snowshoe 12-15 miles to ripplebrook. After making it several miles and being somewhat confident in ourselves... we were astonished to see a convoy of sheriffs who had received 5 separate reports for missing persons..my g/f and I being two of them, unfortunately nobody reported the couple.. The sheriffs explained that they cleared a few dozen trees all the way from carver to get to us, it was a great feeling to know they were out there. After they cleared the last log, we were on our way home. Sleep deprived and hungry we were thankful to beat the odds, I personally heard at least 250 trees drop over the roaring 90 mph winds and pouring rain. There hasn't been a storm of that caliber in over ten years and we just happened to be in the cascades. I wish we had payed closer attention to the weather report, we've seen snow up there, landslides and people trapped but, somehow there was still no way to imagine what was in store. All in all... we coped fairly well and i've decided if someone is going to pursue the outdoors.. they are gonna learn a lesson or two along the way we sure learned ours! Those mysterious guys on foot had to be die hard to be up there with no car, who knows what they did... as for the russians it's doubtful they ever made it anywhere, they probaly just took whatever spur roads that weren't blocked. I'll almost guarantee they ended up in a miserable situation far deeper into the wilderness. We hope they're okay, But the odds for tragedy were very high.





is the latest from Volunteer Jack:

/>
I was curious about the storm damage and went up Saturday to investigate. There was a sign at the beginning of Hwy 46 indicating "Storm Damaged Road". Hwy 46 had maybe 5 places where trees fell across the road and Hwy 63 and 70 had about 6 more. In each place, only enough of the tree was cut to allow a single vehicle to pass. With the ice and snow, it was pretty slow going. I moved several large boulders off the road.

/>The Bagby trail is passable now. I cleared 30 or so large fir limbs from the trail and many smaller ones. I pushed three smallish tree trunks out of the way (8-12 inches in diameter). The only remaining obstacles are 3 very large trees that have fallen across the main trail about 1/2 mile in from the trailhead. The first tree is about 3 ft, the second is 3 1/2 ft and the last is over 4 ft in diameter. The first two are flat on the trail and can be straddled. The largest tree is two ft above the trail on one side and 3 1/2 ft on the uphill side. Hikers are ducking under the uphill side as there's no way around and the tree is too big to climb over.

/>Be safe, check the road conditions with the Forest Service, and make sure you know the weather forecast. Conditions can change quickly in the mountains, so be prepared!






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2 comments:

  1. Hi Rick, my name is Gary. As of March, I will have been in Western Washington for almost a year. I moved up here from Tahoe, and before that, Colorado -- which is where I was born and raised.

    I've followed the Scenic Hot Springs' controversy a bit, and am really interested in kind of getting up to speed with rules, what we can do to help, etc. You seem to comment the most on this page. Would you be willing to contact me? I'm gary.vdb@gmail.com.

    Thanks for your time.

    ReplyDelete
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