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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Springs Are Running Cold

Sushi Bob reports that the hot spring sources are now running cold as a result of the rains we have received these past few weeks. Until we get a freeze and a locking up of groundwater entering the spring sources, expect the springs to remain cold for at least two weeks after the rains.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon Video

Field Guide Video - Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon

Featuring my friend Michael Rysavy
Northwest Forest Conservancy

Producer - Stacy Libokmeto; Videographer - Michael Bendixen; Editor - Todd Sonflieth

Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon

Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Good News for the Springs!

The Scenic permitting process has been going on for four years now and finally we have received an official determination that resolves one of two major hurtles in the way of re-opening Scenic to the public. While I cannot be specific as the which hurtle we have cleared I felt it appropriate that those who have been patiently waiting at least know we are making progress.

And . . . I'd also like to personally thank Chuck at Goldmyer HS for attending the last meeting and providing perhaps a little bit of impetus (and the bearing of a knowledgeable lawyer) to get past the quibbling over 'artificial' versus 'natural' and make a determination.

Now we switch gears and approach an entirely different state agency for the other half of the equation. Scenic is becoming a reality!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is this your vehicle?

Three vehicles parked before the gate to Scenic last Saturday just before nightfall. I was checking the Scenic mail in Skykomish and hopped up the road just to see for myself if anyone was being so brash as to be heading up to the springs for a nighttime soak.

The Volvo was there when I arrived

The other two cars arrived while I was
checking out things beyond the gate

... and people heading up to the springs as the sun sets

It's interesting that despite the number of times I've posted about night soaking and permission, and the number of times the owner has reiterated his position on being at the springs after the sun goes down, that people still head on up there. Even with my car in plain view under the powerlines you'd think someone would think twice that maybe someone with access is up there and maybe they shouldn't go up . . . yet they do.

Being on a tight schedule myself, I didn't have the time to go up there and admonish them. I spent some time looking over the condition of the gate and possible fixes . . . and waiting to see if anyone came down. No one did before darkness fell and I had to get back to Seattle.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Scenic Update

It's been awhile since I've updated this blog on the situation at Scenic. This will be a quick and dirty update as time is at a premium right now as I catch up from vacation time.

The water is as clear as ever and definitely hot!
This is the newly partitioned Lobster side of the tub.


The hot springs are running toasty hot as of last weekend. The Monster Tub has been relined with a new tarp (thanks Bob and Matt) and partitioned into two separate tubs . . . one warm-hot (around 105) and perfect for summer soaking, and the other very hot (115F) for a brief immersion to relax sore muscles.

There is some activity taking place with the slow removal of some of the concrete as required by the county but active work on the site is in abeyance while we pursue talks with the county on permits. The status of the permits is sensitive and often confusing . . . certainly very expensive. Eventually we hope that all parties can come around to an agreement. Meanwhile, please be considerate to our need to maintain a low profile at Scenic . . . especially while these negotiations are taking place. It may seem that nothing is happening at Scenic but believe me, there is a lot going on in the background.


Night time soaking conditions against our explicit wishes, as does the building of fires. Those who insist of these activities peril our chances of getting permits . . . and worse, a smoky fire might elicit a fire lookout response. I photograph every vehicle I come across down below and if I ever catch someone building a fire on the Scenic property you can be sure you will be banned for good from Scenic (if not prosecuted for trespass and building illegal fires).

Trash on the downhill bench off the gate is also a huge problem. Though the gate is National Forest land, the rangers and LE all know that it is the visitors to Scenic that are leaving this trash behind. Hot spring lovers are supposed to revere nature yet it seems that reverence seems to disappear once the springs have been left behind. Please, wait until you get back home before you empty your trash.

Last Wednesday I almost had to use my Bear Spray on a particularly obnoxious person whom insisted that the springs belonged to the people and he was going to soak no matter what I had to say. Fortunately, it didn't come to that but assaults, verbal or otherwise are not going to stop me from challenging people who do not have permission or do not belong up at Scenic.

The Vision

Just to reiterate, we want to reopen Scenic legally to the public . . . offer Scenic in as natural a state as possible. I have seen and assisted in the plans and the artist's renditions are beautiful. While they remain tentative and under review by the county I can tell you that we envision several rock pools (we call them ponds) situated at the present site, and little of anything else to detract from the pristine beauty of the Scenic mountainside and views. A proper latrine, a changing place, perhaps a natural hot spring shower, and equipment shed . . . along with improvements to the trail. Scenic Hot Springs was always considered a 'hiker's' hot spring . . . and we will do little to make access too easy and over-run the site with visitors who will not make the effort to reach it. The hike up is as much a part of the experience as is the rewarding soak afterward.


Remember, Scenic is on private property and you can't simply hike on in there without permission. While in this stage of permitting access is loosely controlled because we simply do not have to time to intercept everybody heading on up there. Put simply, Scenic is not open to the public. Unless you have explicit permission you are trespassing. If you are caught heading up or soaking in the springs you will be challenged.

There are six types of access to Scenic:
  1. The owners prerogative and those who work with him on a continuous basis. We maintain the site, check on conditions, work the on-going things that need to be done just to prevent the site from falling into disrepair. We assist Mike in the planning processes and represent his interests. The number is few and far between . . . I can count them on the fingers of one hand: Mike (the owner), myself (Rick), Matt and Bob. We have unrestricted access to Scenic in order to do our jobs. The King County Sheriff's Department and emergency personnel also have unrestricted access to Scenic (as well as keys to the gate).
  2. Bureaucratic Access: Contractors and those bidding on potential work, consultants, geotech and wetlands engineers, on-site inspections by federal, state and county officials. Since National Forest and Wilderness surround Scenic on all four sides, Forest Service personnel have reasonable access to the site, as do BPA personnel maintaining the power transmission lines through the property. When these people are on site it is inappropriate and unfavorable for free-loading soakers to be attempting to use the hot springs.
  3. Volunteer Access: Those who participate in a minimum number of clean-up/work parties each year are rewarded with a 'permission card' to enjoy the hot springs on a 'check first' basis when nothing is on-going. Having a permission card does not give the holder carte' blanc to soak anytime they wish. They must still check that no official activities are taking place that their presence might jeopardize.
  4. Advance Request and Donation: We do not want to keep respectful soakers away but we cannot simply open the gates. Volunteers have earned their 'rights'. However, if you ask respectfully in advance for a specific date, we will probably say 'yes'. Making a donation simply is good karma . . . you get to soak and we have some extra money to pay for trash bags to cart out the messes left by the irresponsible.
  5. Caught on the Trail Sneaking In: Attitude says it all. If you pass muster (hey, guess what? A gaggle of teenagers heading up near nightfall with cases of beer and boomboxes is not going to go over good), then Mike might say yes. He'll probably either ask you to do some work cleaning something up or ask for $10 from each person. So will I. You are trespassing and freeloading . . . so pay up.
  6. No Access: Believe it or not, the list is growing. The aforementioned young adults with beer, etc. will be scolded and asked not to come back. So will anyone with an attitude, building fires, or carrying weapons. If you cause problems you will be banned and if found back on the property . . . well, you can deal with the deputy. We will press charges.
  • Ask Permission First (and be prepared for 'No'): Don't assume that because it's in the wilderness (or because someone says it's public or free) that it is okay. It is not. Scenic is private property and what happens at Scenic affects whether it will ever open legally to the public anytime soon.
  • Pack Your Trash Out, and then some: Yeah, sure, I know it's just too much effort to carry that empty plastic water bottle back with you but try to find the strength . . . if not the integrity. While you're at it pick up the candy wrapper, your cigarette butts and assorted wet clothing you just couldn't be bothered with taking home. Carry a plastic bag with you and do your part in keeping Scenic clean.
  • Expect Nudity But Not Lewdity! The tradition of soaking is clothing-optional so you are going to see people nude in the pools (and often on the trails). Wearing clothing in the hot spring pools kind of defeats the experience of the soothing waters and your clothing can actually add soaps and residuals to the water that many of us are trying to avoid. Your nude, rinsed-off body is much cleaner that sweaty clothing. Nude is not lewd. Lewd behavior will absolutely not be tolerated.
  • No Nighttime Soaking: Maybe sometime in the future when Scenic has established a good record and the respect of the authorities. Too many accidents happen in darkness; too many unfavorable activities take place. For now (assuming you have permission), please be off the mountain well before sunset.
  • No Fires: Two years ago a soaker's smoky campfire was spotted by a fire lookout. The generated response was two aircraft flyovers, sheriff and Forest Service vehicles at the gate and some poor, hapless firefighter's who had to trudge up the mountainside with all their gear looking for a brush fire . . . only to find a campfire near the pools. That does not look good in the incident reports. Permits are required for any fires to be built on the property. Do not build any!!!!
  • No Camping, No Dogs, No Firearms, No Glass Containers, No ATVs or Cycles: Respect those restrictions. I'll be more than happy to explain them to you if you still do not understand why.

Meanwhile, do you best to respect the difficulties of reopening Scenic. It is not easy, takes time to muddle through the bureaucracy, and is very expensive. Do your part.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Scenic Conditions & a Trashed Pool

In a nutshell, the snow is fast melting, the springs have gone cold and SOMEONE has taken it upon themselves to modify the good ole' Monster tub into a smaller pool and a total, ugly mess. Scenic Hot Springs is UNSOAKABLE for the near-term future until the owner decides on a new course of action.

Water flows are triple (if not more) from the Lobster sources . . . but at a frigid 50F.
Bear Den is tepid body temperature at 95F, but is a mere trickle compared to the flow from Lobster.

The snow berm across FS859 is almost gone
and in the lower reaches barren

On the upper, shaded stretch of the forest service road
one to a foot and a half of snow still remains, compacted hard.

Approaching the clearcut and exposed areas there is little snow

In the shade of the Upper BPA there are patches of snow

The historic camping area down below
(this view from the upper BPA)

Boulders laying on the BPA road (the large one is 3x3x3 ft)

Most culverts are flowing but filled with
large rocks that need to be removed

The trail entrance, still snow covered

Honeymoon Creek across the trail

Rock Alley above the main springs creek; snow
free except near the top, and flowing with snowmelt

Snow lingers above the headwall of Rock Alley . . . 1-2 feet deep

Looking Forward to a Soak but WTF!!!!!!!!!

Someone has cut up the liner and folded it over to make one small pool. The wood to shore up the inner wall seems to have come from several sources nearby . . . including a walkway above the pool.

Both springs feeding the jury-rigged pool . . . too cold

The wooden platform/walkway beneath
the large boulder is gone . . . for wood ...

Erosion/slide? Certainly some of the wood helping to
shore up the area has been ripped out!

Like the upper trail, the path to the old latrine has suffered

Took me several hours to siphon muck and cold water out of the remaining pool. Started a refill using the slow (but warm) Bear Den Springs but that will take several more hours and I need to get home . . . minus a soak.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scenic HS Conditions: Fresh Snow

Took a hike up up the hot springs today at Mike's request and encountered the following conditions:
  • It was snowing lightly at 2000 ft (the elevation of the BN Staging Area) when I arrived and near blizzard conditions once in the clearcut and up to the springs at 3,500ft,
  • I estimate in the four hours I was up there, an additional eight inches of fresh, dry pellet snow (the low temp, stormcloud stuff) had fallen to obliterate my tracks up. It was still snowing heavily when I left at 8pm,
  • The berm across the entrance to FS850 is still substantial and impassable for some time,
  • The snow on up FS850 and the clearcut averages 4-6 feet deep,
  • Onto the actual trail, snow is slightly deeper except in the places where the spring runoffs cross the trail,
  • Snowshoes are no longer required as the snow has compacted and supports boots for the most part (if you stay in established routes),
  • The main springs (Lobster and Bear Den) are running hot, supporting pool temperatures of 109F and 103F, respectively. There is little evidence of snowmelt or the expected cooling of the spring sources . . . and I don't expect melt to happen anytime soon.
The following images give some idea of the present (April 24th) conditions:

The berm across FS850

The BPA Clearcut

The entrance to the trailhead

Just before the Main Springs Creek trail crossing
Note the heavy snow weighing down the branches over the trail

Large slab of snow near the pools being held
temporarily by that ten foot tall tree stump

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My apologies for the lack of posting. On March 31st I lost my mother to a long-standing heart condition and I'm dealing with a sudden emptiness in my life.

A few days after my mother's passing away we had to take my mother-in-law to the hospital for a life-threatening case of flu-induced pneumonia so these past several weeks have been body, mind and emotion-numbing on me.

Both my mother and my mother-in-law lived in my home . . . and both are very dear to me. During the last few years role of mother and son reversed as I took on the role of caring for my mother . . . feeding her, helping her with her daily injections, massaging her feet at night and putting her to bed. It was a role that had become a part of my life and I enjoyed the time together. The loss is very great yet we had been expecting the day for some time. My mother had beat the odds of her bypass and lived an extra 15 years beyond expectations. When time came for the late night medic trip I honored my mother's request of no extraordinary measures. One week later, she passed away peacefully and pain-free with all her family . . . children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren . . . around.

My mother-in-law, fortunately, had passed the critical stage and is recovering from serious pneumonia.

My thanks to all those who have expressed sympathy and condolences. Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Goldmyer Hot Springs Update

From: Beth
Unfortunately, Goldmyer is still closed. The snow has settled down to about 4 feet deep at Goldmyer now, which allowed the cartetakers to evaluate the fallen tree root area on the hillside above the hotsprings. What they discovered isn't good. When the tree went over it loosened a lot of dirt and rock, which is poised above the hotsprings. Obviously this material will have to be removed before we can open Goldmyer again.
Despite the warming temperatures in the lower elevations around the Seattle area, it's still very much winter time in the mountains and at Goldmyer with deep snow conditions. Additionally, there is still about 1-1/2 to 2 feet of snow in the 'lower valley snow zone', which stops all vehicles about 15 miles below Goldmyer. This distance makes it impossible to send a work crew up to secure the hillside area. Our only option is to wait until conditions improve.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scenic Hot Springs on Feb 25th, 2008

Snow is deep; snowshoes a must. Pool and sources are running hot (110-115F in the pools).

The clearcut. Great snowshoeing!!!

Some slide activity above the BPA Road

Hard to tell from a distance but that is twenty feet
of fractured snow there

Rock Alley . . . completely filled in with snow
Stay left here!

The best approach is from above the old latrine area
as the top route is too sheer and dangerous

A large block of snow ready to fall down to the pool area

The reward for hiking up. Good flow, 105F in the cooler pool, 110-115 in the back one.
Both pool could use a good scrubbing and siphoning but it seems the hose is buried beneath a lot of snow.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Goldmyer HS Snow Conditions

Goldmyer Hot Springs Cabin
Feb 1st, 2008
Photo by the Caretakers
View more pictures here

From a message posted by BAS in the Goldmyer MSN Group:

Our group of 4 made it to the springs over the Feb. 2-3 weekend but not without an extreme test of endurance. We were able to drive a custom lift, 4-wheel drive jeep into the snow zone and within 13 miles of the cabin before having to pull over. We then skied the remainder of the distance through very deep snow. It took 7.5 hours to ski to the river crossing and 6 hours to get back to the car. This trip was epic and more a test of physical endurance than one of "soaking in the springs". The 4 of us were all experienced skiers with extensive wilderness-backcountry travel experience and in extremely good condition. We each carried enough gear, food and first aid for a multi-day winter trip into the wilderness. Unless you can ski 12 miles with 60+ lbs. of gear on your back, I do not recommend attempting a trip to the springs at this time. There is also enough new (large) windfall across both the lower and upper roads to make driving impossible. To drive there, plan on several days of cutting and clearing just to get to the locked gate.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Avalanche Control

Snoqualmie Pass (I90) but the same thing is happening at Stevens Pass (US2) with as much frequency.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

High Snows at Scenic-Slide Risk!

I just got off the phone with a friend in Skykomish, Wa (12 west of Scenic HS) and he tells me the settled snow base across the valley and at the same elevation as Scenic is 120" . . . 10ft. Scenic is on the colder, north facing slope, typically getting more snow.

The snow berms along Highway 2 are over 6ft high on average. Roofs have collapsed in Skykomish and a report of trees down across power lines.

Stevens Pass was closed earlier today because of avalanches and the risk remains high. Much of the 2 mi route up to the hot springs traverses cleared slopes with greater than 40deg slopes, the trigger point for avalanche worries. Added the seesaw wamring and cooling temperatures and we have all the ingredients for dangerous conditions in the Stevens Pass area and to a lesser-extent on the slopes approaching the hot springs.

Until these conditions improve, please stay away from the springs. The risk is not worth it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Scenic Winter

The trail may be blazed up but that doesn't make the going any easier. However, the springs sources are running a toasty 115 deg F. Well worth the effort.

The view looks out to the north over the Tye River valley. To the right, Highway 2 makes the final climb to Stevens Pass. For those of you interested in history, you can easily make out the scar and avalanche chute in the far background. In 1910 a fully-loaded passenger train became snowbound after coming out of the first Cascade Tunnel. During the night the accumulated snowpack gave way and carried 100+ souls to their deaths far down the mountainside. The Wellington Train Disaster remains the deadliest avalanche-train accident in U.S. history.

The disaster was the impetus for the Great Northern Railway to start construction on the new railway tunnel, the current Cascade Tunnel under Cowboy Mountain and Stevens Pass. The town of Wellington was also renamed to Tye in a public relations move. Tye no longer exists but as an Interpretive Center for the very popular Iron Goat Trail along the abandoned railway grade.

New Hot Springs Forum

A new hot springs forum has been established to share information of places to soak. Soakers Forum was started by a friend, Eric, of the North American Hot Springs Association (NAHSA) to take the place of the venerable Soak Net long run by Jim Lange. Soak Net has become unreliable and overrun with spam posts . . . often unreachable. Eric started Soakers Forum to keep continuity and to archive all the valuable information posted over the years. Come visit us there, join in on the discussions and find a great hot spring to soak your worries away.

The other venerable soaker discussion board, Northwest Hot Springs has also been rebuilt after a meltdown last November. NWHot Springs focuses on natural hot springs in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Members and moderators of both boards work well together.