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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Meager Creek Hot Springs Update

From Mike Sato,

On Oct 10, 2007, I visited Meager Creek Hot Springs with a Recreation Officer from BC Ministry of Forest. We were doing an assessment of Meager Creek’s current conditions in order to determine what improvements would be necessary before opening Meager Creek Hot Springs to the public.

In fall of 2003, the Meager Creek Bridge was washed out due to heavy flooding. Since the site had been closed for over 4 years, I was expecting a much worse condition for the hot springs. However, it was not bad as I had thought it would be. Some portions of the trees on the trails are overgrown, and several fallen trees need to be cleaned up. As well, a new trail head may be necessary. Change room, signs, and toilets need to be cleaned and needs minor repairs and new paint. The only major problem I could find was with the Creek Side Warm Pool.

Meager Creek has shifted some 30~ 40 feet south due to the 2003 flood, and in the past 4 years, Meager Creek has moved to within 8 feet of this pool. If this continues, the Creek Side Warm Pool will most likely be eroded within a few years. To prevent the erosion of this pool, a backhoe or excavator will be required to create a stone retaining wall. However, before this can be done, a geotech engineer’s assessment will be necessary. Depending on the geotech engineer’s report, this pool may have to be abandoned or be rebuilt at a safer location.

Meager Creek Hot Springs is closed until maintenance and pool repairs are completed. It is anticipated that this will be completed in spring of 2008, and that Meager Creek Hot Springs may be open to the public by summer of 2008. Formerly, Meager Creek Hot Springs was a BC Ministry of Forest Recreation Site. However, it is now in the jurisdiction of BC Ministry of Tourism, Sport and Arts due to restructuring, along with all other Forestry Recreation sites. Therefore, the actual opening date will be dependent upon the funding available from the BC Ministry of Tourism, Sport and Arts.

The Meager Creek Bridge still remains under the jurisdiction of the BC Ministry of Forest and an announcement will be made by the BC Ministry of Forest regarding its reopening. It is likely that the Meager Creek Bridge will also open in the spring or summer of 2008. However, it is doubtful that the bridge will be reopened until all pool repairs and improvements are completed at Meager Creek Hot Springs.

When Meager Creek opens to the public, there will be a user fee. The fee is expected to be $5.00 per person per day. Children 12 and under are free. Meager Creek Hot Springs is bathing suit optional. Dogs are not permitted on the Trail or in and around the pools. During the spring and fall, the pools are open from 8am to 6pm. During the summer, the pools are open from 8am to 8pm.

Camping is not allowed at Meager Creek Hot Springs Recreation Site. Camping is restricted to the junction of Meager Creek and the Lillooet River 8km away. This area is called the Upper Lillooet Campground, and it has over 30 camp sites. The camping fee is $10.00 per night for each vehicle. Upper Lillooet Campground is open daily from May 1~Oct 15. Both the Upper Lillooet Campground and Meager Creek Hot Springs Recreation Site will be maintained by Mt. Currie Indian Band in 2008.

The gates to Meager Creek Hot Springs are located at 9 km on the Lillooet River FSR, just west of the Hurley River turn off. The gates are closed and locked from December to April. The distance from the gates to Meager Creek Hot Spring is about 36km.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Scenic Hot Springs Update

From the property owner:

Scenic is still not open to the general public. The only people allowed to use the springs are those who have a permission card or have been given permission for a visit in advance. Permission cards are only issued to those who have two or more involvements in past clean-up parties. Any visitors who do not have permission or a permission card are trespassing. If you are caught hiking up to the springs by Scenic’s representatives, you may be asked to leave . . . even if you are almost all the way up to the hot springs. Please do not argue with us. We do not allow late night soaking or camping because the Scenic property is in King County fire-restricted zone. Late night soaking is not allowed as we cannot control the irresponsible activities that traditionally take place after the sun goes down. Occasionally the Scenic’s reps will make the hike up to the springs late at night and ask those there to leave. Please do so without argument.

Those who want to request permission to visit the hot springs should contact If you would like to take part in future clean-up parties, please also contact us at the above email address.

The reason for the above restrictions (including the permission card requirement) is because we are in the middle of sensitive negotiations with the county, state and federal representatives over permits to reopen the hot springs to the public. The permit process is taking a lot of expense and time for everyone involved. The unexpected presence of people heading up to the hot springs while sheriff and King County code enforcement officers watch, may jeopardize our permits application.

I am hoping that the negotiations with the King County DDES and Public Health will be over soon and the Scenic Hot Springs will be open to the public sometime in spring of 2009. The first obstacle is to clear up the county code violations and restore the hot spring pools for public use while making them much more safe and enjoyable. Currently there is only one 8 x16 feet concrete pool at the Scenic Hot Springs. The King County DDES requires that any construction done by volunteers over the past 20 years, whether it was a small piece of concrete or small wooden poles, be removed from the hot spring site. Therefore when the time comes, the existing concrete pool at the Scenic Hot Springs will also have to be destroyed.

The Scenic Hot Springs is still in the process of negotiating with the County, so I cannot reveal any further details. If you have been to Cougar Hot Springs, then you can see the general direction the Scenic is heading for; a natural hot spring that is kept under control without making it a truly commercial facility. In the future, Scenic will have 3 natural rock-lined pools. When opening to the public, Scenic will be a day-use facility open from sunrise to sundown, and may have a minimum user fee. I would also like to mention that this improvement project has no official connection with the Friends of Scenic or the Scenic Preservation Association. However, some of their members have been involved as volunteers in the clean up efforts of Scenic Hot Springs.

Currently, visitors should at least follow guidelines listed below:

    • Have Permission First
    • No Night-time Soaking
    • No Guns, No Camping, No Fires
    • Be Responsible with Alcohol - No Glass
    • No Dogs at the Springs Site
    • Be prepared to leave when asked to do so

Mike Sato

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Snow Plows have blocked access

The snow berm across the entrance of FS850
- image courtesy a friendly WSP trooper

We got a good dumping of snow in the Cascades on Monday . . . up to 14 inches in some places. You can expect snow from Skykomish on up. The pass cam shows US2 unplowed of several inches.

FS850, the access to Scenic Hot Springs, is well within the heavy snow zone and according to one report there is a snow berm in place from the highway plowing operations.

Expect more snow this week . . . and please do not park on FS850 (even if your 4wd can get in). You'll probably get trapped. Also, do not park on the highway, the shoulders, or in chain-up areas. These are tow-zones. The nearest safe parking is in the Surprise Creek Trailhead area within the BN Rail Zones.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why you should care . . .

A few of the many 38cal(?) cartridges we found
scattered around the base of the Monster Tub

I won't go into why firing guns from the hot spring pools is such an incredibly stupid idea. I've had guns fired in my direction on two occasions up at Scenic. I don't like the idea of an errant bullet whizzing past my head on the trail downslope.

Irresponsible gun usage is one of the reasons we have rules in the wilderness . . . and particularly at Scenic. Mix it in with a partying attitude involving alcohol and weed at nighttime, and the chances of something going terribly wrong go way up.

Scenic is not open to the general public. You either have a permission card because of your involvement in past clean-ups, or you have been given permission for a visit in advance. What that means is if you are caught hiking up to the springs by the owner or his representatives, you may be asked to leave . . . even if you are almost all the way up to the hot springs. Please don't argue with us . . . if you do not have permission you are trespassing! If you do have permission, the owner can revoke it.

So why?

The first reason is because we are in the middle of sensitive negotiations with the county, state and feds over permits to reopen the hot springs to the public . . . and by the unexpected presence of people heading up to the hot springs while bureaucrats and inspectors watch, our permits get jeopardized.

Secondly, irresponsible soaking will not be allowed to take root at Scenic. Even if you have permission, I will challenge you and send you packing if you are not prepared for the weather . . . or if you are drinking too much or otherwise being an a**hole. We've had our share of people hiking in street jeans, teeshirt and sneakers thinking they were immune to an oncoming snow storm.

We do not allow late night soaking or camping because we cannot control the irresponsible activities that traditionally take place after the sun goes down. Occasionally the owner or one of his reps will make the hike up to the springs late at night and ask those there to leave. Please do so without argument. I didn't hike up there three times for the exercise this past Sunday.

It's within your power to help make the re-emergence of Scenic Hot Springs happen. You could volunteer . . . you could ask first . . . instead of assuming . . . you could also soak responsibly. But just don't enter the property en'mass near nightfall carrying cases of beer and expecting me to allow you to continue up to the springs. That is just the sort of activity we need to minimize in the county's eyes. I will ask you to turn around. I expect the other representatives will also.

    • Have Permission First
    • No Night-time Soaking
    • No Guns, No Camping, No Fires
    • Be Responsible with Alcohol - No Glass
    • No Dogs at the Springs Site
    • Be Prepared for Conditions

Snowtime at Scenic

A dusting of snow near the main springs at 3,500ft

Not much yet but it's coming as a new weather system with high winds and a lot of moisture is due in Monday. The freezing level is down around 2,400ft.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why no Sulphur Smell at Scenic . . .

A question I often get from those who have been to Scenic is "How come there is very little rotten egg smell like other hot springs?" Often the pungent smell of Olympic Hot Springs is brought up in comparison. Scenic Hot Springs barely has any smell, whatsoever. Why?

That rotten egg smell is the result of H2S, or hydrogen sulphide. As ground waters percolate downward and heat up, minerals are dissolved out of the rock being traversed. Heat and pressure dissolve heavier minerals as the temperature and pressure increase . . . generally with depth. A common mineral dissolved out by most geothermal systems is sulfur . . . which by itself has no unpleasant smell. Bacteria deep down converts sulfur to the rotten egg gas smell of many hot springs.

The presence of H2S indicates that the water has penetrated to great depths. As the water percolates deeply into the crust, pressure increases, and this allows the anaerobic bacteria (germs that work in the absence of oxygen) to convert sulfur in the form of sulphate to the sulphide of H2S. A quick trip to the surface retains the H2S created. A slow surface route may retain the gas only if the passage excludes oxygen, allowing the anaerobic bacteria to continue their work.

Olympic Hot Springs evolves from fractures in the bedrock around an active fault line over the Olympic subduction zone. Temperatures and pressures are very high and the resulting hot spring waters are highly mineralized with very high concentrations of sulfur . . . and the smell of hydrogen sulphide in the air.

Scenic, by comparison, is a shallow and rather benign geothermal system. The heat source for Scenic Hot Springs is an upwelling of solidified magma (called a pluton) that has been cooling for the last 35 million years. The residual heat from this solidified upwelling is shallow (~600ft) and does not give the pressures and heat for much reduction of sulfur into the rotten egg gas.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Last Chance This Year: Clean Up Party Oct 27th, 2007

An ounce of prevention . . .

The snow's not far behind us and this is our last chance to join with Mike to clean-up the springs area in preparation for the winter season. We need to do a substantial bit of winter erosion control and cleanup.

Dress for the weather and be prepared to get dirty. It's hard to predict where the snow will be so dress in layers; have good, sturdy boots; and work gloves. We have need of shovels and picks for some of the work.

We will try to meet at the gate and drive further in . . . but those plans are dependent on weather. It's important that those who can (or plan to) participate RSVP so we can keep you updated on where to meet up. RSVPs can be made to me at bangedupshins AT gmail DOT com

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Hot Springs Guy: YouTube Western US Hot Springs Player

Well, my friend Josh over at Idaho Hot Springs (also known as TheHotSpringsGuy) has given us a great new resource in the form of a video tease of a number of natural hot springs in the Northwest. Check it out and pay Josh a visit at his great website. Rick

Friday, September 07, 2007

Impromptu Clean Up Party Sept 9th, 2007

An impromptu cleanup party is being held at Scenic this coming Saturday (Sep 8th, 2007). This is short notice. What we will be doing is moving some of the trash from the upper levels further lower on the trail to where it can be more easily picked up during later cleanups. As a result of the winter and springs weather much of the garbage pile of odd construction materials got scattered and is become a mess. Uninvited visitors have also been adding their garbage to the pile.

Volunteers may arrive at any time in the morning and hopefully we will get enough to form a bucket-brigade arrangement to move material. I will arrive around 10am to unlock the gate (Matt? Bob? If you're coming maybe you can open the gate early?)

Standard safety stuff:
  • Sturdy work boots
  • Gloves (I have a case of work gloves if needed)
  • Water

Do not forget to sign in with me if you want credit.

Of course, credit for participation and a soak afterward.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Anon Poster Wants Springs Given Back to Government

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Minor Cleanup Party this coming Sunday":

This site used to be great until all of this legal crap. Maybe the owner should just sell back to the gov and let them try to regulate.

This really should be open to the public and left to be natural without wood boxing, fake rocks and all this effort to caretake.

I guess the anonymous commenter just cannot read. Seems it's always the anonymous ones that don't seem to have a clue. Shame.

This land has not been government property since the mid-1800s when it was granted to Mr. Werheyser and Mr Hill for right-a-way for the Great Northern Railway. The present owner did not buy it from the government but from the former owner. If that hadn't happened the likely scenario would have been the former owner bowing to pressure from the county to pump hydraulic concrete into the springs and capping them off forever . . . just to get away from the legal enforcement hassles that users created.

The present owner (the one responsible for the property taxes, by the way) was presented with that bureaucratic suggestion when he applied for permits to clean up the site. Here were his choices:
  • Bow to county pressure and cap the hot springs sources, taking a huge loss in the amount of money he paid for the 40 acres. However, he could have recouped that devaluation by logging the 40 acres, as is his right, or;
  • Go completely private and not allow anyone to use his property. Build a cabin and enjoy the hot springs himself, or;
  • Pursuit the bureaucracy and permit process at great expense and time in order to reopen these hot springs to the public.
He chose the more difficult process and you have the gall to tell him to give YOU the hot springs? Got a lot of balls, boy.

As far as giving it back to the government . . . LOL, I already know what the feds will do . . . dynamite the springs as a public nuisance . . . which they are because of people with attitudes like you. The government doesn't want these springs and the headaches they will cause them. Be thankful that someone is trying their damn best to give you an opportunity to eventually enjoy Scenic in the future. Be thankful that pool Nazi's like yourself will not be permitted to tell others how to use and enjoy their property.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Minor Cleanup Party this coming Sunday

Where: At the gate on FS850

When: Sunday, June 3rd at 11am

Here's a chance to visit Scenic Hot Springs and do a little tender-loving care to the property and the adjoining areas of the litter and erosion from the winter and spring months. Afterward, we will have an opportunity to enjoy the springs. This cleanup party will not be a major undertaking and we will simply hike on up to the hot springs, cleaning up a few culverts along the way and collecting trash that the unrespectful have left behind. Participation counts toward gaining more opportunities from the owner . . . so don't forget to sign in. I will also hand out new 2007 Season Permission Cards to those who are already involved in the restoration of the hot springs. The cards issued last season will retire to weed out those who are not actively involved, do not participate in clean-ups, or that we are unable to contact. Permission cards are not a perputual invitation to visit the hot springs . . . they are at the pleasure of the owner.

As in past cleanups, let's meet around 11am at the gate, signin, and proceed up FS 850 to park in the clearcut area. The cleanup and soak will last to around 3pm when I will go back down to let vehicles back out (or later if there is consensus). those who might need to leave before 3pm, please park before the gate.

  1. Cleanup the litter on the areas off the gated area down to Highway 2. We owe this to the Forest Service as it is the people who head up to Scenic that are tossing this trash. I did some cleanup last week but I'm sure there is more.
  2. I need a few people to litter patrol the FS Road from the gate to the clearcut, and one or two to do the same on the first bypass trail.
  3. The road cut at the second bend could use some filling to help ease vehicle across without bottoming out; likewise, there is a tree snag partially blocking the road near the clearcut which we need moved out of the way.
  4. From the clearcut, those that like to hike, there are a few fallen trees and snags down in the BPA loop that could use an assist off the road. For the rest, up the second bypass trail to pick up litter on the road and the side slopes.
  5. I need to re-plant a new 'No trespassing' sign near the second tower. I have the signs and post. Likewise, just inside the trailhead we need to figure out how to correct the floded over 'No Trespassing' sign high in that tree.
  6. As we head up the upper BPA Road, we should check the culverts and unblock them as necessary. Where streams cross the road, we will assess if there is anything to do that will keep the streams in their course, and protect against erosion on the downslope side (usually means partially blocking the flow to slow the water down and create sedimentation filling).
  7. We will do litter control on the trail and correct errant seepages on the water bars we placed two years ago.
  8. Litter patrol the pool area and the downslope area from the pool.
  9. Enjoy a soak!!!!
Tools: Nothing major. I'll bring my folding shovel to do culvert cleanout. Perhaps a hammer to post signs.

Everyone, good shoes and gloves. Bring water, something to snack and a smile.

Is there anyone out there that is good with making conceptulized drawings? We need someone who can look at the hot spring site, visualize what the pools might look like in place, and produce a nice drawing in colored pencil. A 2007 Permission Card to the individual who can make drawings for us.


Another Black Bear near Scenic

A black bear roaming the lower areas of the clearcut (near where FS850 enters). Seen near dawn grubbing for it's breakfast of bugs, it wandered on up the slopes into the heavy canopy above the clearcut, seemingly avoiding the human-made bypass trails.

Although the bear knew I was there and less than 100 feet away, it paid me no attention other than glancing my way every so often to see if I'd come any closer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend and the Springs

The Memorial Day Weekend has always been a difficult time for the hot springs so this year, as with last year, we are going to enforce the NO TRESPASSING rules at the springs.

Starting Friday afternoon, a representative of Scenic Hot Springs will be present on the property (including overnight) and TURN BACK those who attempt to visit the springs. Anyone who doesn't cooperate will be referred to the King County Sheriff's Department. There will not be a repeat of the vandalism and trashing of previous holiday weekends. Stay away!!!

On Saturday a private hot springs clean-up party is taking place. This event is already filled to reasonable capacity. If you are not on the list for this particular event, please stay away.

For those that have asked, a regular clean up party is being planned for possibly the following weekend after Memorial Day. Activities planned are cleaning of culverts and shoring up the intake basins, re-setting the water bars on the trail and other general erosion control measures. I will contact everyone on the volunteer list early next week with the details.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Scenic Hot Springs Conditions, May 11th, 2007

The pools after cleaning and refilling. KEEP THEM CLEAN!!!!
Pool Temperatures as of
May 11th, 2007 @ 4 PM

Conditions: Clear skies, 68F @ Pools; Patches of snow on the upper trail above Main Creek crossing. FS850, BPA Road and lower trail are snow free. As predicted, some enterprising soul has chainsawed the tree blocking access to FS850.

Spring Source
East #1 (Lobster Upper): 78.3F, Flow: 18 gpm (measured)
East #2 (Lobster Lower): 58F, disconnected from feed tube
Upper feed tube is redirected around pool.
West #1 (Bear): 110.3F

West #2 (Bear): 111.4F, Combined Flow: 6.8 gpm (measured)

Pool Temperatures:
Lobster Half: Inlet 77F (diverted from pool), Pool 97.9F

Bear Den Half: Inlet 109.3F, Pool 101.7F

The Lobster sources have gone cold as predicted from the increased snow melt; while the Bear sources have notched up a degree or two. Both sources show increased flow rates. Lobster, at 77F, is too cold to feed the combined pool, so has been diverted around the tub. The second fracture at the source is now active and supplying most of the colder water to Lobster. Bear is just enough to provide a pleasant soak with two different temperatures that suit the ambient weather.

Water Quality
Without the added flow of Lobster, Bear springs is barely enough to turn over the water adequately . . . especially when someone keeps removing the small pool-bottom siphon (the green hose). Algae quickly builds up on the lower portions of the pool, which gets little turnover. The weir dams were heavily coated with a half-inch thick coating of algae that also builds up on the concrete outside of the tub under the overflows. The two halves of the tub were in bad need of some serious cleaning. I completely drained the pools, removed the pool divider and spent the next two hours scrubbing the slippery algae coating off the interior and exterior pool surfaces. The liner is showing increasing areas of wear and will probably have to be replaced sometime this soaking season.

Site Conditions
There has been more earth slippage on the trail above the Bear Den sources. Step carefully around this area or preferably, take the latrine access trail. The litter problem was very heavy. I removed four 33gal trash bags of beer bottle, cans, liquor bottles, clothing, towels, food wrappers, candles and assorted other garbage from the site.

Notes The tree across FS850 has been cut up. At first I thought the Forest Service but I later found out one of the visitors took it upon himself to cut up the tree to make it easy for people. Next time, pay attention and notify me or Mike first. You need a permit to go cutting fallen trees on Forest Service property and that tree was tagged for a timber permit. I was aware of that and perfectly willing to let the tree sit until we needed access. Whomever did the cutting, I suggest you don't admit to it.

While I worked on cleaning and oiling the lock to the gate, the owners of several cars (and one motor scooter) arrived from their unauthorized visit. I didn't recognize any of them and one couple was downright obnoxious when informed that the springs are closed and on private property. I didn't even bother to ask if they'd like to volunteer and earn the right to visit. Didn't seem the type. Fortunately, I have pictures of their vehicles.

The forest service road is completely snow free and in real good shape. There is a fallen tree snag near the BPA clearcut, but easily driven around. The first hiker's bypass is also clear and in good shape.

Likewise, the BPA Road and clearcut is also snow free. The upper BPA road shows some moderate to significant erosion but is 4WD HC drivable . . . in fact, someone has recently driven up the road, though which of the volunteers with keys I don't know. Near the top immediately short of the Honeymoon Creek BPA road cut, a large boulder has come to rest in the center of the road. It can be driven around but will take two or more people to safely move this boulder out of the way.

Lower down, I cleared out the culvert grates of the Main Springs creek crossing, and of the BPA Springs. Shoring up of the basin around the intake of the culvert was necessary. Where Meadows Creek crosses the BPA road, there is heavy flow but erosion is under control.

The trail, itself, is in good shape. The water bars are doing their job. Melt runoff continues to come down Rock Alley. The snow begins just above . . . patchy but unavoidable. The snow is soft, wet and slippery . . . but will soon be gone. Most of the snow is from the switchback area to just short of the short path above the Bear Den sources . . . the result of remaining mostly in shade. The latrine bypass trail (the original and one of the historic trails) is snow free. Due to earth slippage in the route above the springs, I recommend taking this bypass trail.

As the condition report noted, the pools were in terrible shape and needed serious cleaning; which I did. There is also a lot of irresponsible partying going on up here late at night with dozens of beer bottles (Blond Ale?), a full bottle of Schnapps, a half full bottle of Jaggermeister, various articles of clothing, food wrappers, uneaten food, a half-dozen melted candles and lots of cigarette butts. The site was filthy and a lot of that garbage was in the pools, themselves. Have you ever stepped bare-footed on a bottle cap. The pool was full of bottle caps and I managed to step on one and cut my foot. So, my unauthorized friends, I have no sympathy for you! All in all, I made two "up the mountain-down the mountain" trips to drag four trash bags full of garbage away!

Used Pampers!!!! That means babies, unless you have a control problem yourself. Do not take babies up to the hot springs to soak. It is both dangerous for the child (babies have undeveloped control of body heat), and dangerous to the pool waters (babies have bowel control problems . . . which is why they wear Pampers).

A young lady's spandex top left on a rock near the top of Rock Alley

What surprises me is the amount of clothing I found discarded on the side of the trail. Are people stripping off their clothes on the way up or down? I'm all for a nude hike (especially after a hot soak), but throwing away perfectly good clothes? Come on . . . take your laundry home . . . don't leave it to rot on the mountainside!

The difficulty, of course, is controlling access by these irresponsible people. I would like to catch them in the act but I really don't have time to sit by in the evening hours. Perhaps the sources need to be secured and shut down. I know I piss a lot of visitors off by draining the pools in the late afternoon . . . at the present flow rates it takes hours to refill those pools. But I can't be up there everyday. So we're going to be looking at other alternatives.

In the coming weeks, while we wait on permit decisions, I'm thinking of setting up a clean-up party . . . with the idea of litter pickup at the gate area and alongside the BPA road and trail. This is to be a mini-cleanup so if anyone wants to join in, contact me. The bonus is enjoyment of the springs for the rest of the day after the cleanup. Contact me if you want to participate.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Scenic Hot Springs Conditions, April 5th, 2007

Conditions: Clear, sunny skies, 50F @ Pools; 68F on the Upper BPA Road. Snow is still 2-4 ft deep, wet & heavy. Melt is accelerating. Snowshoes are not required as snow will support boots. Some icy areas under shade.

Spring Source
East #1 (Lobster Upper): 96.1F, Flow: 15.35 gpm (measured)
East #2 (Lobster Lower): 68.8F, disconnected from feed tube
Feed was back in place supplying the pool.

West #1 (Bear): 106.6F
West #2 (Bear): 108.3F, Combined Flow: 5.8 gpm (measured)

Pool Temperatures:
Lobster Half: Inlet 95.2F, Pool 93F
Bear Den Half: Inlet 107.5F, Pool 95.9F
Could be hotter except for some mixing with the cooler water from the Lobster side.

With the snow melting and the recent rain, you would expect Lobster to remain flowing very cold and at high rates. That was not the case; both the Lobster Springs are at higher than expected temps and more normal flow rates. At the upper source, where two springs come together at the outlet, the westerly fracture that produces most of the cold spring melt is dry. All flow is coming from the easterly fracture and it is hot enough for a warm soaking pool. It is unknown why this spring has suddenly dried up. I see no modifications to the source.

Water Quality

Someone has been cleaning the Bear Den side and it was relatively clean. The Lobster side was algae-encrusted through lack of use and attention (and cooler temps). A layer of dark algae sedimentation three inches thick covered the bottom of the pool.

Pool was completely scrubbed, algae blanket siphoned out and then a siphon set to completely drain the pool and refill with fresh water. I left the feeds in place.

Site Conditions

The area around the sources and pool is snow free, although large cornices of heavy snow remain above the pool site. The trail above the pool also shows moderate movement of the supporting soil below with fracture lines on the trail. Stay to the inside. Site is drying out with the warm weather. Some litter but under control.

Note: As of today (Sunday) we have a large series of showers running through the area. The snowline has dropped back down to 2,500 feet and forecasters are calling for two to three inches of fresh snow. The lowered snowline will firm up the existing snow and probably ice up conditions.

A couple of sunny, warm days have accelerated the snowmelt dramatically. The berm across FS850 (and down along Hwy 2) is almost gone. However, FS850 is under shade and a full two to three feet of snow remains up to the gate.

The upper BPA road remains snow-covered because of the north-facing alignment. Snow averages two feet, has become very wet and heavy . . . tricky to walk on. Snowshoes no a bad idea but you have to keep on removing them to traverse bare areas.

All of the snow bridges created by running creeks, have collapsed . . . however, melt from beneath is making some snow cover unstable.

BPA Springs Area on the BPA road short of the Meadows Creek crossing. The exposed hillside continues to show minor erosion.

A rather large boulder coming down from above the BPA Road (near Honeymoon) sits at rest atop some remaining snow.

On the trail, still quite a bit of snow in the lower section . . . here, the Honeymoon Creek crossing.

Looking back down on the almost clear area of Meadows Creek across the trail. I corrected some major melt erosion to redirect water into established channels.

Rock Alley is clear of snow and major running water. The headwall remains with deep snow above, most of it in shade and icy as I travelled over it.

Past the switchback there is still a lot of deep snow (3-4 ft) on the bench. It will take some time to melt this snow.

The approach trail above the Bear Den Bench shows earth slippage and crevassing of the soil . . . due in major part to the heavy weight of the snow that lingers on the bench.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Olympic Hot Springs Update - Mar 31st, 2007

The road up to Olympic Hot Springs remains closed at the dam due to winter storms. That leaves a hike of around 14 miles round trip.

There are a large number of downed trees across the trail, all navigatable. There is one large one right before the last (highest) springs that is difficult to get over. The stream crossing is navigatable but don't expect to keep your feet dry. There are still patches of snow no deeper than a foot in some places across the trail at the higher altitudes so watch your footing there.

The rockslide before the bridge to the the last incline to the springs (not the last bridge) is a little tricky. The distance of the hike plus this little element might make this hike avoidable for kids. The rope is also gone from the tree that was there to help you keep your footing up or down from the bridge.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scenic Hot Springs Conditions, March 26th, 2007

In a nutshell, the snow is melting but there is still plenty of it. FS850 is undriveble with unstable snowpack from three to six feet. Erosion on the slopes is typical for the spring melt, with a few new wrinkles but no major sliding. Snowshoes are still advised but they will go on and off, as there are plenty of bare patches. The air temperature at the pool was a cool 39F when I arrived at 4pm.

The springs sources have done a switch with the Lobster sources between 57F and 43F and triple the normal volume. The Bear Den sources are a lower-than-normal 101F with nominal flow . . . enough to keep the pool a less-than-comfortable 90F. As I write this, the freezing levels have dropped to 3,000-3,500 ft, and it is snowing lightly on the north slopes of Scenic again. Rick

At the request of Mike, I hiked up to Scenic Hot Springs to check on the snow conditions. The snow berm is still in place across the entrance to FS850. The berm up the highway from the BN staging area is very unstable and dangerous to walk on. Rather than take my chances walking close to traffic on the narrow shoulder of the highway, I decided to check out the hikers' back route . . . a route I haven't hiked in years. This route avoids the highway entirely but makes for some treacherous footing and steep slopes. Heavy snow evens out the ankle-biters from snags on the steep slope but with the accelerating snow melt there are a lot of places to fall through if you don't have secure footing before putting weight on your snowshoes.

Starting at the BN Staging Area, the back trail to the
springs begins at the spectacular Scenic Creek Falls

From the parking area you take a spur trail into the canopy toward the lower waterfalls of Scenic Creek. On the knoll, overlooking the waterfalls as they plummet 100ft from the precipice of the clearcut above, is an indistinct trail upslope to the east (looking left as you view the waterfalls). This is the backdoor route used by Scenic HS visitors many years ago.

The trail heads steeply uphill following
'Murphy Creek' just inside the treeline

Slopes approach 50-60%, so sturdy and sure footing is necessary. However, you gain elevation very fast and quickly negate the 400ft difference between the BN staging area and the first tower where the forest service road enters the clearcut from the more traditional approach.

Another waterfall, this one nominally a trickle. Just beyond
Murphy Creek you enter the BPA Clearcut west of the FS 850 tower

On go the snowshoes. This view looks back at
the ravine created by Murphy Creek.

Looking back from the top of the second bypass trail. You can see my
tracks from the back trail around the left of the BPA tower.

Looking up the upper BPA Maintenance Road

Most of the 'snow bridges' over
running water have by now collapsed

The Meadow Creek runoff has split into two streams,
one of which is running down the road

Meadow Creek is running strong at the BPA Road. Coming down the slopes from above, it has cut several separate channels with one of the streams running down and eroding the road surface.

Minor sliding is common along the BPA Road as snow melts and slumps

Culvert grates are 70-80% blocked and need to be cleaned out

Meadow Creek where it crosses the trail

Melt and erosion where the Main Creek crosses the trail

The amount of melt around the Main Creek crossing surprised me. At the upper end of the melt zone in the above picture, we installed a waterbar last year to divert flow. However, flow from a couple of spring sources further up are coming down Rock Alley, jumping the waterbar and eroding the trail down to where the water rejoins the Main Creek. All the snow in this picture and the preceding ones, is unstable and perched next to the downslope sides of the trail. Crevassing is indicative of the threat of this snow breaking loose and tumbling down the slopes very soon. Footing is very tenuous because you don't know what will give.

'Rock Alley' has melted of its 8ft snow plug.
A 4ft snow wall greets you at the head of the alley

Two weeks ago, Rock Alley was filled with an eight to ten foot plug of snow. That is all gone now. Just before the headwall of snow at the upper end, a couple of springs are flowing strong and that is the source of the flow seen coming down Rock Alley.

Once above the headwall, the snow stays firm and deep . . . icy, for the most part. I needed the cleats of my snowshoes to feel comfortable hiking the rest of the way up to the springs.

The Monster Tub as you come upon it from above

The snow above the springs remains deep and heavy . . . perched dangerously above. Around the sources and the pool area, the ground heat has melted most of the snow.

From the tub deck, slumping snow has taken down a few smaller trees above

A large boulder has dropped onto the latrine
trail a dozen feet from the structure

View of the area just above the Monster Tub
with minor soil slippage into pool

Water is reasonably clean due to the huge rate of flow.
There is a lot of breccia and dirt in the pool from minor slope erosion

The feed from the Lobster sources is large and cold.
I've redirected it around the pool

Monday, February 12, 2007

Scenic Hot Springs Snow Conditions Update

I must apologize to my lack of posts regarding Scenic. It's not that Scenic has been forgotten, but more of that there is little of a public nature that can be posted and a certain desire on the part of Mother Nature to make it difficult at best to visit Scenic. Weather in the Cascades has been pretty brutal these last several months. In a nutshell . . . there is still lots of snow up at Scenic!

I want to also acknowledge all those who have contacted me about Scenic . . . and in most cases, volunteered to help out in some form. No, I haven't forgotten you . . . there is little, if anything, we can do while there is snow on the ground. But spring is coming and I have your contact information recorded and ready for the next clean-up party.

Saturday, Ryan and myself . . . along with several grad students from the UW . . . met for an impromptu snowshoe trek up. Little did we realize just how heavy the fabled Cascade Concrete can be, and how just a few hours of mild February sunlight can weaken the top crust of snow and make snowshoeing a reasonable facsimile of 'postholing' . . . at least for us heavier guys. The girls had no problem staying on top. Ryan, unfortunately, misjudged the nature of the snow crust and attempted to do it sans snowshoes and with a 50 pound pack! He postholed all the way up and really got a workout. I understand he was pretty sore at the NAC Swim later that night.

Eight foot high snow and ice berm across FS850

The berm produced by the snowplows this season seems a record high . . . seven to eight feet, and it continues all the way down the highway on both sides. Either you climb down and chance walking next to traffic, or you trust your sense of balance and hike the top of the berm all the way from the BN staging area down the highway (again, close to traffic a few feet away.)

Once over the berm and on FS850 and eight feet of snow that's getting friable and giving way we can relax and head on up. Note that a good-sized tree has been blown down across the access road. A project for clean-up once the snow is gone. Any volunteers with a chainsaw? Let me know first.

On the way up FS850, snowshoe tracks lay evidence to a number of visitors recently. Most take the longer and easier route of the road and we try to stay in their tracks on the unstable snow. Some take their chances on the bypass like we did. It does cut off a lot of distance but is steep, narrow and very icy.

The BPA clearcut

The beauty of virgin, undisturbed snow over the BPA clearcut looks like a snowshoer's idea of heaven. Five days earlier and I would have agreed . . . having made my own trails easily to the upper BPA road. As pretty as this stuff is, it's better to stick to the more-or-less packed down tracks of previous visitors.

To the right are tracks coming down from the first BPA tower. Those tracks would mean little to most people unless they knew there is an old trail coming up from the Surprise Creek Trailhead area. This is the back way into the area and known to few people . . . mainly because it is exceedly steep and especially difficult during winter. It's also easy to get lost with the loss of trail blazes over time. This trail was commonly used during those initial years after the enforced closure of the hot springs by the sheriff's department. Diehard Friends of Scenic would use this back route to evade detection.

Once onto the upper BPA Road the going doesn't necessarily get any better. The snow is as deep and subject to a lot of drifting from the constant wind that blows from west to east through the clearcut. Under all this snow (and cutting across the BPA road) there are a number of running streamlets from the hot springs sources higher up. They cut snow tunnels beneath the snowpack, giving us the snow bridges that can make life very wet, cold and uncomfortable for those who are unlucky to collapse one and end up the the icy-cold water beneath. I think everyone I know of has experienced falling through one of these. It's not much more than a trickle below but it is enough to ruin your day. Fortunately, we had no incidents on our way up. All of the creek crossings were identifiable by the diagonal dimple in the snow cover; or had already collapsed and partially melted to give themselves away.

I keep my eyes open for the signs of higher-than-average geothermal gradients. Winter and snow cover make this easier because patches of snow-barren ground stick out like a sore thumb. There are a number of them that I keep my eyes on during the hike up.

52.7 F is quite high in the overburden, considering that ground temperature measurements fifty feet to either side of this snow barren area are in the middle to high 30s. This particular measurement was taken in a young spring source uncovered during the BPA road realignment of 2003.

The 70 degree F spring water coming out of several fissures in the decomposing rock and breccia is substantial and warranted a culvert when the BPA crews accidently opened up this spring. This area continues to erode and continually block the grate in front of the culvert. In the image above, the grate is almost occluded and requires clearing before major snowmelt starts. Otherwise it will overflow the BPA road and do major damage. This will be one of the cleanup projects in the coming weeks . . . to clear that (and other culverts) for the spring melt.

Collapsed area of Honeymoon Creek above the BPA Road

Another area that continues to show a large geothermal reservoir is the area where Honeymoon Creek crosses the BPA road near the trailhead. Two years ago this area did a major landslide and buried the then-existing culvert under tons of mud and rock. The creek continues to erode a channel across the BPA road, which we remediate temporarily with fill. Eventually the culvert will have to be replaced in a better location.

Ground temperature measurement where
Honeymoon Creek crosses the BPA road

Several hundred feet higher, the Honeymoon Springs fill a small pool with 85-90 F water. The thermometer stuck a few inches into the ground near the BPA road shows 78 F. There is a lot of hot water flowing through the ground here and evidence of it can be seen in the massive snowmelt on the slopes below.

Snow melt on Honeymoon Creek below the BPA Road

There are several obvious warm-hot springs sources evident on the slopes below the road. Unfortunately they are unsuitable for use.

View looking up from the trailhead

Turning onto the trailhead gives you an even more impressive idea of the amount of snow we are going to be up against. Fortunately it's not as bad as it looks due to the camera angle. Tell that to Ryan as he postholed is way onto the trail.

Two hundred feet up we come to Honeymoon Creek again . . . this time as it cuts across the trail after cascading down the steeply eroded slope from the source. The snow here is four to five feet deep and you can see the scramble up the other side from someone who didn't quite manage to step across the narrow fissure.

Substantial melt of snow from ground
heat in the Meadows Creek area

In the Meadow Springs area the snow cover is thinner and the area shows substantial melt. It makes a good respite from the arduous trek up so far.

Looking back down Rock Alley from above

Five days earlier Rock Alley was essentially impassable with over ten feet of snow filling the vee. Three to four feet remain but the snow is very soft and givable. We opted to come around from the old logging road side and thence up onto the middle crest. The rest of the climb up was essentially more of this stuff.

Upon arriving above the hot springs we got out of the snowshoes for the final climb down. The snow is very unstable here and I spent some time breaking loose large slabs of snow to make a safe way down.

As can be seen in the image, the piping from Bear Den Springs was disconnected, and I suspect that is a result of a moving slab of snow from earlier. We reconnected the pipes and got ready to enjoy a soak. The pool was in pretty good shape; water clear but the liner slick with a coating of algae. Scrubbing and some siphoning brought the pool back to tiptop shape. Lobster was running it's 120 F hot with Bear Den around 110 F. Conditions, trash-wise, were actually pretty good around the springs. I'm sure that was because of the difficulty of access these last several months.

The trek down was much more difficult than the ascent. Snowshoes were an essential yet snowshoes are not very good on steep slopes. You have to remember to dig and plant the cleats in before transferring weight. Nonetheless, I found myself on my butt sliding down the slope more than a dozen times.

Homeward bound after a great day on the mountain