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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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A Comment on a Comment on a post (good this time)

Ron at the Hot Springs Association made such a good and valuable comment that I felt it deserved to be prominently displayed as a main article . . . so here it is:



Hey,



Well said Rick!



The secret to using closed hot springs - Never ask to soak when you know the public is not invited to do the same.



-Never expect to soak and leave without asking.



-Volunteer repeatedly for all cleanups, work parties, meetings, and do some of the real hard work (like writing, and planning, and building relationships with the Forest Service).



-No owner, nor steward of a closed hot spring, who has a real understanding of health codes, state laws, federal laws, county laws, and city laws will EVER say that you can soak. Not if they are smart.



However, if you are smart, work hard and often, and never ask about soaking in a closed springs, maybe, just maybe, you'll find yourself on solo work detail, or guard duty one weekend. And at 4am, when no one is there, you can ease into that pool of blissfully warm water, stare at the stars and realize, that if you work harder, and keep your mouth shut about your presently illegal soak, it might all just happen again.



The point is, if you cannot contribute to a hot springs future, and you cannot forgo a soak today so that all can soak years from now, the springs can and will be lost to all, and forever, at least in any real sense. (Think Ohanapecosh, or one of many others)



Think for the long-term.



Regards,



Ron



Ron at hotspringsassociation dot org



P.S. Always sign your name to your posts.









Ohanapencosh, Baker destroyed and a serious look into its' future by the Forest Service, Olympic under threat by the Parks Service, Lester, Green River, Wind River, Austin . . . etc., etc. Do you see a pattern folks? Get involved! Rick

Quick Update

With all the wild weather we have been getting recently there is not much to report on the actual situation up at Scenic Hot Springs. The springs are still there, as is the Monster Pool, but there has been very little activity other than minor cleanup activities and some topograpical site surveying (done by yours trully).



I assume there is a lot of snow up there. The last time I drove by (right after the November storms) there was already an appreciable snow berm across the FS road. Snow is as probably as deep as it was last year. A number of volunteers have expressed a desire to snowshoe up to the springs. To those I say . . . please be careful and don't bite of more than you can deal with. Please let me know if you plan to make a trip . . . and please give us a trip report on conditions afterward (with pics).



On the bureaucratic front the battles go on and there is better news to hint at from that direction. As much as we may detest the very necessity of hiring lawyers and consultants, they are finally begining to make an impact on the county's way of thinking about Scenic Hot Springs. There is a solid glimmer of success coming from these endless meetings with the county. I wish I could share the specifics but that might compromise negotiations. Just suffice it to say that the latest round was VERY PROMISING.



Rick

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Comment on a Rude Comment

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous said... GROWUP GET THIS HOT SPRING OPEN RICK YOU AN ASS HOLE THAT IS FLAT OUT BLASNK YOU NEED TO GROW AN ACT LIKE A MAN NOT A BABY THE HOT NEED TO BE OPEN AN THAT IS IT FUCK ALL THIS SHIT WITH THE FOOLIN AROUCND

So goes a comment posted in this blog relating a visit to the hot springs by the sheriff. Actually, I laughed when I read it . . . and then a little peeved off at the audacity of the poster's comments. Sort of a challenge, isn't it. Should I just ignore the person and comment . . . delete the comment . . . or take the bait and yell right back? I think the latter . . .

Must be easy to attack someone from behind the mask of an Anonymous post. Cowardly, it might be said. Are you afraid to give your name? Good move though because if I knew who you were I would make sure you never set foot on the hot springs property again. You . . . meaning the idiotic, spelling-impaired commentor . . . are the main reason these hot springs are NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC . . . and probably will NOT BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FOR A LONG TIME! There, I can yell too.

Now, you're all intelligent and edumacated; tell me how we can get the hot springs open as you seem to imply it would be to do so. Simply throw open the gate and let anyone wander onto the land to do as they please? How f*cking naive can anyone be? You are the f*cking idiot who needs to grow up and be a man!!!!!!!

The facts are:
  • FACT: This is private property and the owner of this property is obligated legally under threat of contempt to destroy the hot spring pools and to close access by the public to the property.
  • FACT: Even if the owner gave the property to the public (and the Forest Service for free), the Forest Service would not take it because they know what problems hot springs produce . . . including clueless idiots like the commentator.
  • FACT: The owner has been navigating the masses of governmental red tape for three years now, spending thousands of dollars to bring this hot spring back to the public legally. I don't see idiots like this stupid, moronic commentator doing diddly-sh*t to help out in that process. There is no magic lamp to wish this to happen.
  • FACT: Hot Springs DO NOT BELONG TO THE PEOPLE, no matter how much you may wish they did. Get over it and grow up! The owner is under more legal and fiscal constraints than you have any idea. He is liable for the actions of idiots on his property unless he follows the process. You want and want and want . . . yet give nothing back.
So, rant over. The next time you feel compelled to open your mouth and spew vitrolic, take a deep breath and sit on a rock high in the mountains for a few days. You'll gain new perspective on life. Oh, and learn to use a spell-checker as well.

Rick (notice I signed my post?)