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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Help Save Remington Hot Springs


Hot Spring lovers know how rare and precious Natural Hot Springs are.

Unfortunately the Forest Service is considering demolishing the Remington Hot Springs, which have been beautifully maintained by Friends of the Remington Hot Spring volunteers for over 10 years.

Local residents and others are ready willing and able to address any valid concerns the Forest Service may have, but right now we need your help.

In just TWO MINUTES you can help by submitting a letter using pre-drafted comments or your own comments, which will be hand delivered to the Sequoia National Forest voicing your support for keeping the Historic Natural Remington Hot Springs open to the public.

Click the link below to submit your comment letter and thank you for taking action to help keep the Remington Hot Springs from possibly being destroyed.



Your Friends at Save The Trails

Monday, November 16, 2009

Assertion of the Owner's Rights to Scenic Hot Springs

adverse possession ... "squatter's rights"
A means of acquiring title to real estate where an occupant has been in actual, open, notorious, exclusive, and continuous occupancy of property for the period required by state law.

In common law, adverse possession is the process by which title to another's real property is acquired without compensation, by holding the property in a manner that conflicts with the true owner's rights for a specified period.


Do we need to say more about why access is controlled at Scenic Hot Springs? There are those who would love to see the old days of Scenic once again restored . . . exclusivity. Come visit 'my' hot springs. But the fact is, they are not 'your' hot springs. They never were. The current owner is the one who pays property taxes, the one who has to deal with county, state and federal agencies with regard to illegal construction and use on 'his' land. He asserts his rights by asking that those who want to visit his property have prior permission to do so.

There is a sad story about another hot springs in California . . . Crab Tree Hot Springs . . . where a cabal of users hunkered down and basically took possession of the hot springs to the point that innocent visitors were faced with booze-drinking, gun-toting squatters that drove these once really nice hot springs into obscurity . . . people afraid to venture anywhere near. The price of admission (according to one account), a bottle of whiskey. To the point where no one is making any real attempt to challenge this form of adverse possession by a group that has nebulous ownership of the property . . . that includes some areas of the Mendicino National Forest and certain high-water shorelines of the river that under state law are public property.

There are those of the old school of the Friends of Scenic Hot Springs that would like to see this happen at Scenic; they have expressed it in statements like 'hot springs belong to the people' and 'we have a right to enjoy nature's gifts'. You may think so but there is still the problem of the owner asserting his rights to use his property as he seems fit.

It does not matter that you disagree with the basic tenets of law and claim hot springs are for everyone. It does not matter that you believe that because the springs are way out there in the forests and mountains that they are public property. They are not and haven't been so since the land grant days of the railroads in the 1850s . . . before Washington State statehood.

We post 'No Trespassing' signs . . . and they promptly get torn down. We do spot visits and try to educate visitors . . . yet people still traipse up there late at night carrying boom-boxes and cases of beer.

There is another tenet of tort law, called 'attractive nuisance' that holds a property owner responsible for things that can go wrong on his property . . . unless he controls access and mitigates risks (for example, by education, remoteness, access). The Conditions of Access in the sidebar is but one means of accomplishing this. Simply put, if you do not have advance permission to visit Scenic Hot Springs and have not explicitly accepted the Conditions of Access, then you are trespassing, pure and simple.

A recent visitor to the springs . . . an old-school Friends of Scenic Hot Springs volunteer claiming thousands of hours of labor and work on the now-demolished decks and pools . . . bad-mouthed the current situation as "the blog being dumb" to "they never respond to permission requests" to "alot of nerve to charge $5". Okay, let's respond to those dissents . . . made by a person who was given a free pass and now has the nerve to badmouth to a number of responsible soakers who did have permission.

The Blog is Dumb:
Well, it doesn't say what you want it to say, so you are probably right from your perspective. This blog is here to give a focus point for what's happening at Scenic. Admittedly not much because the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly. Still, it is the only official place you will find out what is happening . . . because it has the owner's grace. So sparse and dumb it may be . . . would you like to write some historical articles about what it was like during the heyday of Scenic?

They Never Respond to Permission Requests:
You never asked for permission. Period. Instead you now imply that you are better than everyone else by dint of your previous, illegal involvement . . . privileged. Others mouth the magic phrase, "I know the owner," or "the owner gave me permission." Doesn't wash it with me or the other stewards. We have a list of those the owner has given explicit permission to visit. It is a short list, believe me . . . and I know most of those people on sight. The catch-phrase, "The owner said it was okay," doesn't wash with me. You do not have permission . . . you were given a complimentary free pass for the day. You want to continue going up there . . . request and agree to the 'conditions' as asked of everyone else.

I get three or four requests to visit every day and I respond to every one of them. Most never bother to read the Conditions of Access and that is the end of the request . . . no permission. Some ask to visit on that very day . . . sorry, you have to give me some lead time because I am not going to sit in front of my computer 24 hours a day waiting to respond to a request to visit that very day. If you look at the calendar in the sidebar you will see that only one or two parties a week actually do the right thing, agree to the conditions and ask early. The overwhelming majority are freeloaders and trespassers but we will eventually get to them in the form of increased calls for LE assistance, etc.

"alot of nerve to charge $5"
Why? Are you maintaining the site? No, so get a life. One liner (there are two) costs $80 . . . out of the steward's pockets. Replacing the locks on the gates . . . $20-30. Driving 50-80 miles to respond to an incident? Another $20 bucks out of the wallet and time we'd rather spend doing other things. Ruining the evening for a bunch of beer-drinking, naked teenagers trespassing at night and sending them packing? Priceless! (Sorry, MasterCard . . . I couldn't resist)

When the springs are finally permitted for access by the general public the steward's duties will pass to a paid caretaker and the access fees will be in the range of $10 to $15 . . . to pay the caretaker's wages and maintenance costs. You will find a safe, controlled environment with clean pools, potential good parking areas, etc. There will be no more trespassing. And there won't be a dictatorial band of squatters demanding you pay homage to them because they control the springs. Till then, we will continue to promote and advance the owner's rights to his property . . . as he has asked us to do.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Trip Report: Thursday, Nov 12th, 2009

Posted with permission:

We did make it into Scenic on Thursday (yesterday). The trail in was hard-packed snow, a bit icy in places. Took us 1.5 hours in, from the parking area in the works yard. There's about 50 cm (20 inches) of snow on the ground at the springs. Good footwear (boots) is now essential. Running shoes, which some people were using, won't do now - too dangerous. I'd discourage anyone who doesn't have proper boots from making the trek until the snow goes next spring.

The pools are in good shape. The western pool (left hand one, looking down) had an intake temperature of 44.3 deg C (112 deg F), and the right hand pool was 47.4 deg C (117 deg F). Rate of flow from the hottest feed was about double that of the cooler one.

We stayed about an hour. Packed out some beer and pop cans, and some miscellaneous trash found along the trail. A lovely day, and thanks very much, Mike, for permission to visit.

Glenn W.

It should be noted that Glenn had the explicit permission of the owner and that permission was forwarded to the stewards in advance. Glenn was on a semi-official visit . . . the others he encountered up at the springs were, simply put, trespassing and certainly not prepared for conditions (which can change in a flash this time of year.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Updates

Snow is coming down. Especially from Wednesday through Friday there is a winter storm warning for the Cascades. There is an Owner's Event Thursday; accordingly access to the springs is not being given out. The springs will additionally be closed through Friday (or beyond) until we see how much snow has fallen in the area.

Plows have already built up a snow berm across the entrance at Hwy 2. Tow trucks have already had to pull a visitor's car back up onto the access road. Conditions are dicey at the moment, leading to this closure.

Another note: please read the Conditions of Access before contacting us for permission. Please look over the calendar for restrictions instead of asking to visit of a day that is marked as closed.

We have our day jobs . . . we are not always able to respond on requests to visit the same day. Please plan ahead.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scenic Hot Springs: Soakng and Viewing the Orionids

Skies clear for a few hours for a spectacular show

Well folks, you missed one spectacular stellar show of the Orionids Meteor Shower this past Monday night. Though the weather at first didn't seem like it was going to cooperate, the clouds did part and clear at the elevation of the hot springs for a few hours just as the constellation Orion was coming into view directly above the hot springs. The trails of meteors streaked across crystal-clear skies every couple of minutes and I can't think of any better way to watch the show than to lay back in very comfortable water far away from extraneous lights.

Ten people had responded, giving desire to join in. As one of the stewards of Scenic Hot Springs, we don't often give permission to visit the hot springs at night . . . the dangers of hiking in the dark, misbehavior by visitors at night . . . being the primary reasons. A night visit doesn't happen too often. So I was a little disappointed when no one showed up at the gate after having responded positively. The weather, I guess. Fog was thick and the weather cool and on the damp side. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was committed because I'm hosting this event and I'd like to get any visitors up there before nightfall makes the trip iffy.

Eventually, I give up and head into the clearcut to park. The fog (or clouds) are thicker up here. The outside temperature gauge in my car says it is 46F outside. The air was still which helped. By the time I reached the trailhead proper at 3,000ft, I knew I was hiking directly into the heart of a cloud latched onto the upper mountain slopes. It got heavier and moister the higher I hiked. I could feel the dew beading on my skin, but I was feeling comfortable and enjoying every moment of the slow stroll up.

I reached the springs right as the last of the day was slipping below the western ridges. Time to set myself up, pull out those trash bags to protect my gear from dew (and possible rain) . . . and get into that marvelous water. Immersion into 103F silky water has a decidedly sensuous rush to cold-tightened skin. The water was perfect! The only disappointing part was that I could see no more than fifty feet or so above me. The springs were smack-dab in the middle of an obstinate cloud! No star views.

Night darkened and I soaked, alternating between the comfortable Bear Den pool and the much hotter 118F Lobster pool . . . and then out to stand and cool on the small deck with a cup of coffee before slipping back into the springs.

Around 8-8:30pm the clouds slowly oozed downward on the slopes. Some action of thermodynamics as the temperatures lowered? It was getting colder out. Below, on the slopes, I could see the top of the cloud bank, almost touchable . . . any potential head and tail lights from Hwy 2 far beyond seeing. Above, crystal-clear and millions of stars peppering jet-black heavens. I lay back to watch.

The Orionid Meteor Showers are the dust-particle-sized remains of Halley's Comet during it's last pass through the inner solar system. Once a year, during October, the Earth passes through that region of space and those tiny particles get swept into our atmosphere to burn up as meteor trails. The Orionids are so named because they appear to originate from the constellation Orion (those three closely-spaced stars in a line near Sirius . . . the brightest star in the sky . . . that we have all seen, but maybe not recognized).

Orion was due to rise directly overhead around midnight (from the southeast). At midnight the meteor showers would appear to be coming in directly from above. In the few hours before zenith, the showers would be streaking across the sky from the southeast . . . a much more persistent view. As I watched, lo and behold . . . there was one, directly over the crest of the slopes. A minute or two later, another. In the untainted black of the skies far from city lights the trails were stark and long lasting until the final burnout halfway across the skies.

Guys (and gals), you missed a show!

The shoulder of Orion was just coming into view when a new bank of clouds started occluding the stars above. Well, I got the best part, I suppose. I waited, hoping the mists were just tempoary but no dice. They just got thicker . . . and my soles and palms were getting wrinkly from prolonged soaking. Time to head back down.

The headlamp was almost useless, the hike slow and with very careful footing. By the time I reached the clearcut 500ft below, the wind had picked up and misting rain begun. Near the bottom I did get disoriented for a moment, wondering where my car was. I started to turn toward Scenic Creek until I stopped, thought about it and reasoned it out. Wrong side trail. Fifty feet away and totally obscured sat refuge and warmth. Moral of that thought . . . don't ever get so complacent or cocksure that you make a mistake that can get you completely turned around. Weather changes in an instant in the Cascades. That's the reason I carry survival supplies in my backpack . . . I know Scenic as well as most people (perhaps better), but I almost went off in the wrong direction.

Back inside the car as the heater is getting up to strength, the temperature gauge shows how much the weather has cooled. 36F. I'd been peppered on the final stretches by the light sting of snow. The windshield has a patchwork of those wet, melting particles now. Cold enough.

Yeap, you sure missed a great stellar event, folks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rare Opportunity: Night Soak at Scenic to View the Orionid Meteor Showers

Here's your chance for an escorted and permitted nighttime visit to Scenic Hot Springs to lay back in the hot springs waters and watch the annual Orionid Meteor Showers at their best on Monday night with a new moon. Conditions are predicted to be optimal.

This event will be escorted by a couple of volunteers from just before nightfall until the wee hours of the morning (midnight brings Orion, where the showers are coming from, and Sirius above the horizon for the best view in Scenic's awesome star-gazing vantage point). Participation is limited at a cost of $10 per person.

Dress appropriately, bring a snack and drink . . . and lay back for this stellar event!

Hike in begins one hour before sunset on the 19th of Oct, 2009 (Monday).

Advance registration only (email) or sidebar link

Meager Creek Hot Springs status

From Mike Sato:

Meager Creek Hot Springs was closed on September 19th due to a mudslide that occurred at Capricorn Creek. The Upper Lillooet River campsite and Meager Creek Hot Springs were fine. However, about 200m of Meager Creek FSR was washed out. Also the Capricorn bridge was washed out. So visitors will not be able to access Meager Creek Hot Springs until next spring. The mudslide damage was very large, so Meager Creek Hot Springs's reopening will depend on how fast the BC Ministry of Forest can fund the reconstruction of the bridge and access road.



Meager Creek this past June (before the slide)

{Updated} New Reservation-Based Method to Grant Permission

People, fortunately are beginning to request permission . . . and that's good. But handling requests to visit takes shuffling and time so if you note the sidebar, as people request a date to visit (and there are no other priorities) I will be entering them on the Google Calendar so that we have some idea of who's going up.

In talks with the owner, we've also introduced a method to contribute to the cost of maintaining these pools for your visit. A five dollar fee ($5) per person, per visit is now expected in advance of all users requesting permission to visit the hot springs. Visitors caught at the hot springs (or on the trail) without advance permission will first be assessed as to whether they should be allowed on the property and if so, then asked ten dollars ($10) per person or turned around. There will be no exceptions to this policy!

Contributions are used to maintain the pools, cover some of the costs of continually having to respond to incidents up at Scenic and for necessary pool maintenance (relining, etc.) to make this an enjoyable location for a soak. If you want to enjoy it then pitch in!

On a different note . . . nighttime visits are continuing and, we are going to put a stop to them. A number of volunteers have come forward to help Matt, Bob and myself stand guard duty with authority to turn around people heading up to the springs near nightfall. A benefit of being up there is that we are not going to begrudge the volunteerism of their time for a soak, themselves.

I didn't get a soak, myself, this last Tuesday . . . but I did turn back twelve people intent on sneaking up to the springs at night. Six of them were understanding and polite . . . the other six (a group of young men and women) were outright obnoxious . . . even claiming after they asked how to get permission . . . that they had permission. Sorry . . . that was a lie and you're still not going to get permission to soak up at Scenic in the dark.


One additional note: There is likely someone camping in the trees near the springs. One car . . . a beat-up red Toyota with Oregon plates has been there for several days, getting moved around (on Tuesday, actually parked on Hwy 2 . . . hope it got towed). I could not account for that person with the count of people asked to leave, but there is evidence that someone is living up there. I felt the same thing a week earlier when I spotted a candle flicker near the latrine but was unable to follow through the fresh snow.

I would ask everyone (volunteers and visitors) to protect the integrity of Scenic and help keep us informed of problems happening up there. Don't put yourself in jeopardy by confronting . . . just inform and let us know. We are fully prepared to start pressing charges against troublemakers.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Snow possible at the springs this weekend

Freezing levels are predicted to go down to around 3,500ft this weekend. Coupled with the new cloud front moving in and pass winds around 10-15 mph, be prepared for snow.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hot Springs in Cold Weather

. . . or, how do you get out of that wonderful water and get dressed without freezing your buns off?

I'm often amused by the hopping antics some soakers go through after a long and relaxing natural hot spring soak when they have to get out of the toasty warmth into cold weather. Some delay the inevitable for as long as possible and then go through a mad rush to find clothing and cover themselves amid 'brrrrrrrr's and wrapped arms around chests and one step, two step gingerly hopping on snow while shivering and declaring, 'Damn, it's cold out here!' Others again delay and quickly slip back into the pool amid growing worries that the day is getting long . . . the sun is sinking and sooner or later they're gonna have to face the cold if they ever want to get back home. It's only going to get colder out.

I'm amused because it's not that traumatic an event . . . if you're prepared and you know the secret to getting out of a superheated hot spring pool into freezing weather without yourself becoming a popsicle. Let's debunk one myth; you're not going to freeze. You might feel a little bit of the cold . . . how much depends on how you get out of the pool and whether the clothes you wore in are still dry. Two steps ...

Keep Your Clothes Dry

This is the 'be prepared' part. It does your soul no good if you emerge comfortable and toasty warm from a hot springs pool only to have to put on wet and cold (perhaps frozen) clothes. While you were wearing those clothes on the hike in they stayed warm along with your body . . . they wicked out sweat from the exertion of the hike. It doesn't take much time for really cold weather to freeze and stiffen those trace amounts of perspiration and moisture in your clothing into a shivering nightmare of redressing.

An intelligent hiker practices layering, avoids cotton and then forgets that these principles only work when the heat of your body is powering the system. Remove the clothes to partake in a soak, and your clothes are now subject to the environment on their own. Any moisture in them will freeze if the temperature is low enough . . . and you have to put that clothing back on . . . frozen as it is. Even if temperatures are not below freezing, there is nothing more miserable than having to put wet socks and boots back on for the hike out. As a hiker who hikes nude in cold conditions all the time (and enjoys it), I can attest that if my feet are dry and warm the rest of the body does not feel the cold quite as much. Get my feet wet and bone-chilling cold and I won't be hiking long.

Soooooo . . . while you are soaking, keep your clothes dry! That starts with having somewhere to keep your clothes while you are soaking away. The simplest answer is to carry a couple of plastic trash bags in your pack and use them to keep your clothes out of the elements. Plastic sacks also come in handy to sit or stand on and keep bare skin off snow, ice or frozen surfaces.

Ideally, segregate outer damp or wet clothing from drier inner clothing using two plastic sacks. Don't forget to protect your boots from the elements as well. A good approach is to pack a second set of dry inners wrapped around an activated foot warmer to keep them warm for when you need them. Whatever approach you take, the idea is not simply to hang your clothes from a tree or a post nearby, but to keep them dry and warm for a comfortable hike out. The sacks you used to protect your clothes can then be used to pick up a little of the trash left by less considerate users and pack it out.


Emerge in stages

This is the real secret to getting out of a hot spring into cold weather. Don't just hop out and madly try to dry yourself while shivering. Dry yourself from the top down while still in the pool, rising higher as you dry. For example, sit up exposing the upper chest and towel your head, shoulders and arms off. Stand up and towel down to the waist . . . and so on until your merely have step out of the pool (perhaps onto the plastic of one of your trash bags) to dry your lower legs and feet off. The process is as simple as it gets yet I see few who practice it, instead ending up hopping around sopping wet and barefooted on the snow complaining about how cold it is!

Water (and water-dripping humans) conduct heat 50 times more effectively than still air. You've probably spent a good part of an hour soaking in 105 to 115F water . . . superheated your body . . . and then you complain when the environment soaks that heat away 50 times faster than if your skin were dry? Stay in the pool and rise in stages to dry yourself off, limiting the amount of time wet skin is in contact with cold air. It works . . . trust me.

Three parts of your anatomy are particularly susceptible to the cold. They are: your scalp, your hands and your feet (no, that other part is not as vulnerable as you might think). The scalp, with close surface blood vessels, radiates as much as 30% of the available heat in your body. The hands and feet have limited peripheral circulation and especially feel the cold. Pay special attention to drying these areas and then get them covered and out of the cold soonest (hat, boots and gloves).

How you dry is just as important. Forget thick, plush bath towels. They soak and hold water without really drawing enough moisture off your skin to be dry. Drying with a cotton bath towel in cold weather is like re-wetting your skin with the absorbed water after a few passes . . . and that towel is now cold as heck! And heavy to hike back out with because you're hiking the water out.

I prefer using a hiker's chamois (like the chamois we dry our cars with but marketed for backpackers). This item will suck an amazing amount of water from your skin, works wet and is easily renewed by wringing out. Another cheap alternative are the Shammy's and Sham-Wow's now advertised on TV. These viscose materials also make great cloths to use in the pool to wipe the face, cover the head, etc. A small chamois dries you much more effectively than a cotton towel.


Dry, you withstand the cold better . . . your superheated skin guarantees it. A small, dry cotton washcloth finishes the drying of head, hands and feet. Get a knit cap on your head, then fresh, dry socks with the boots . . . gloves if needed. Then you can get around to dressing the rest of yourself, knowing that most of the moisture is off your skin and your not going to saturate your inner, wicking garments on the way out because your skin is still slightly damp.

Better yet, stay nude and see how long you can withstand the cold with the heat you've absorbed from the hot springs. You'd be surprised at your endurance level if you keep moving and generating additional heat. Of course, know your limits and dress when even the first hints of cooling too much (mild hypothermia) become evident. You'd be surprised at how pleasant cold weather nude hiking feels . . . especially after a hot springs soak!

Trip Report

The following is provided by a visitor to the springs who asked and was authorized to visit this past Saturday.

Rick, we had a great time, the tubs and the site looked great. however a [eastern European ethnicity-deleted] dad and 5 teenagers showed up, without permission, I filled them in on the rules and how to get permission. but then on our walk down we saw raisin wrappers and empty water bottles all over the trail on the way down, and they were not there on the way up. we picked them up and put them on the hood of their car. so if you get a e-mail from some [eastern European ethnicity-deleted] in Lynnwood I would deny the litter bugs permission.

Well dad . . . and kids? Sound like you? Are you teaching your children to be responsible citizens?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Snow at Scenic ...

... and a night of guard duty


Half an inch and still falling at 2am

Just a seasonal early dump as Tuesday's storm front piled up west of Stevens and was forced on high by the narrow pass. The snow evolved from some pretty heavy rainfall around 8pm as temps dropped below 40F, finally hovering around 37F when I left . . . still dusting snow lightly.

The snow level was around 2,600ft . . . just at the beginning of the clearcut (none at the gate which is 2,400ft). The springs are at 3,500ft, which is the same as the pass (plows were operating up there last night). Unlikely it will last past the morning warming.

Boring night, mainly. Got a lot of reading done and only had to turn around one party of three young men heading up. They didn't seem too happy with the sudden turning on of the headlights right in their path but it's kind of hard to argue they had permission under the conditions they were caught. Sorry guys . . . there is no nighttime soaking at Scenic Hot Springs and we are going to enforce that ban . . . with calls to the cooperative local deputy if need be. The fine for trespass is $1,000 if you want to be stubborn (felony trespass, if you've been caught again, carries a fine of $10,000). Stay away from Scenic at night time . . . ask permission first in all other cases.

A new twist are trespassers hiding out in the woods nearby the pools . . . or under shelter of the old latrine, as last night. Before I left I hiked on up to the springs . . . and I tend to hike with a very narrow headlamp. So coming back down off the bench I noticed a flicker of light passing above that latrine. Sure enough . . . someone was hunkered down with a little candle just waiting for me to leave. Where they parked, beats me. I suspect he was camping nearby but after telling him to leave private property I was not about to follow him back on the path he took . . . not into deep night and fresh snow. But I will make it a point to check the springs earlier during daylight for campers. BTW, camping and campfires are expressly forbidden on the property!

Again, a reminder. There is no night time soaking allowed at Scenic Hot Springs . . . for many reasons. We will be enforcing the ban and I suggest you don't argue with those who are empowered by the owner to act. As Tuesday's sudden snow dusting shows, conditions at the springs can change in a heartbeat.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vandalism at the springs again

Bear Den on first sight . . . draining faster than it can refill

I received a text message from one of the regulars at Scenic letting me know that the hot springs had been vandalized. I really wanted to do the Johnson Ridge hike as I had planned but when I got up there there was already another vehicle. Well, not much of a problem usually. Johnson Ridge has become much more popular with the closure of the Evergreen Lookout road. But at six am in the morning with the sun barely peeking up over the Cascade crest, I didn't expect to see anyone hitting the trail before me.

The pickup truck gave me pause. Brakes cold . . . they had been here for awhile, probably overnighting at Joan Lake. The seat inside gave me the reason for my disquiet . . . the padded soft case of a high-powered rifle . . . sans rifle. Uh Uh . . . there was no way I was going to go hiking tawny deer-hued on a narrow ridge trail with some hunter up there. As if to echo my concerns, the narrow valleys suddenly echoed two loud reports from just where I was planning to go. To many accidents have been happening in the wilds over recent years. I wasn't going to be mistaken for a deer by someone hunting on this popular trail.

A disappointment, really. But I really do dislike being anywhere near people carrying weapons on the trails. I'd rather avoid and find somewhere safer. So I supposed I might as well check out the conditions at Scenic Hot Springs. North-facing, the hike up to Scenic really doesn't catch much sun at this time of year until early afternoon. By nine o'clock the air was warm enough for a slow and comfortable stroll up. No cars at the gate below . . . I had the place to myself and no hurry to get there. I spent a lot of time checking out the types of mushrooms growing large off the trail . . . and revisiting a theory on the old iron piping partway down the trail . . . trying to trace it further afield to support or debunk historical claims of piping the waters two and a half miles to the long-gone Scenic Hot Springs Hotel. I drew no new conclusions but enjoyed the quiet time wandering about the slopes. Eventually I made it up to the top bench and the fire ring above the springs.

Despite burning bans, fires continue to be built

Night time visitors are hard to control at Scenic. Surrounded on all four sides by National Forest Lands and no full-time caretaker, kicking out unauthorized partiers becomes hit and miss. The problem with nighttime soaking is not one of being petty. The problems are real, ranging from the dangers and risks of hiking a steep wilderness trail at night to the seclusion that allows irresponsible drinking and partying at the springs when no one is around to discourage them.

And then they build fires. At first, little ones . . . and then idiots resort to pulling the remaining decking apart for firewood. Recently they have been raiding stacked treated lumber and burning that. Let alone the health hazards of breathing in the smoke from burning treated lumber, it's outright theft and, as the image above shows, much too easy to get out of hand with the low-handing branches of the evergreens nearby. The remains of this fire were still warm from the night before.

So . . . the evidence of unauthorized visitors is rampant and getting to be a bigger problem. At this rate the owner is close to limiting his generous access conditions even further. We may find trespass charges in the near term if this vandalism doesn't stop.

The feed to the Bear Den tub intentionally disconnected

The feed to the pools disconnected? Why? As tight as the above connection was, that joint was pulled apart on purpose, leaving an already half-empty pool ice cold without the continuous recharge of hot water. The runoff, uncontrolled, further eroded an already scarred slope.


Pretty colors but a mess of wax from unwanted nighttime soakers

Bear Den tub was half-empty, ice cold and filled with floating chads of melted wax from some party the night before. Must have been a doozy . . . scented candles in such pretty colors all lined up. Melted wax all over the place. I have to give some credit, though. At least the place wasn't littered with broken wine and beer bottles as the last time I responded to major vandalism.

The liner has been slit the entire length of the bench

At first sight it looks like the liner just wore out. But a closer look reveals the clean, straight line of a cut . . . a sharp knife drawn the length of the bench allowing water to drain out through the underlying wood structures. The tub could only fill halfway before draining out the bottom where the foundation is normally dry. On the downslope side of the tub there is new detritus from foundation erosion.

Subsequent users have attempted to slow the major leak with rocks to overlap and hold the cut edges together. Obviously it was not very effective.

The straight, clean cut of a knife can be seen here

Whomever did this wasn't content to slit the eight foot length. He or she cut into the sides of the tub to let even more water out.

Well, I'm not prepared for repairs. That will have to wait for a future work party because liner replacement is an all day affair. Tarps (there are two) cost fifty dollars apiece. The best I can do right now is to siphon and clean out all the water in that tub and attempt a better temporary seal until I can arrange replacement.

At least the Lobster tub was untouched (and running hot). I got both feeds up and running to refill Bear Den . . . crossing my fingers over the long refill that the leak was slower than the recharge rate and the pool would hold water. I also started cleaning and recharging the Lobster pool. By mid afternoon it looked like things might hold . . . at least for awhile. I started to head on back down, wanting to enjoy the sun while I could.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Summer update

Just thought I would post a quick update, as I have been up to the springs two to three times per week for the last few months. The springs for the most part have been respected by most soakers. I have had to clean up remnants from a few fires and pick up after a few late night parties (the springs are OFF limits at night and NO fires are allowed). The springs are back at peak temperatures. Thank you very much to those of you who pick up after yourselves, and a warm hello to those of you who I have met.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Meager Creek Hot Springs status

Meager Creek Hot Springs (also managed by Mike) has been open since May 15. The Forestry road is in normal conditions, it is manageable with a 2WD. There are plans on grading the road in early July, but it is still drivable at the moment. There are currently 2 caretakers at the site and the maintenance has really improved. There are 3 rocklined pools, including a newly renovated pool by the creekside. The user fee is CAN $5 per user, and camping is CAN $10 per vehicle. The campsite is 8km (5 mi) before the hot springs.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Scenic Access

I do apologize to those who have requested access to Scenic Hot Springs and as yet have not received a reply from me. I have been basically away for the past several months while undergoing chemotherapy for mylogenous leukemia. It is only now . . . after this round . . . that I even feel like rejoining the world around me. I even feel good enough for a hike let alone going through months worth of email.

That said, Scenic is still there. The last reports I received said that the Lobster feed was still running cold due to the snow melt while the Bear Den feed was running just above body temperature. Since the sole remaining Monster Tub has been segregated into two pools . . . each fed by the separate feeds . . . one tub is icy-cold while the other is a nice soak during warm weather. Both pools do require some scrubbing, cleaning and tender-loving-care, though.

Over the winter there has been a lot of unwanted activity up at Scenic, including a lot of campfire building, which is expressly prohibited. Other than that, the site is in pretty good shape.

With snow almost completely gone I expect both feeds will soon heat up and provide a great soak!

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So, the question of access. I can't possibly answer all the past requests I have received but as long as you are respectful and follow guidelines, I see no problem with a day visit to the springs. I do ask that you email me first and check this website to see if there is any on-going or planned activities by the owner that would preclude a visit. I can't promise a speedy answer with my time spent in clinics but a lack of answer or posting here will generally mean nothing is planned and a visit is okay.


Guidelines:

  1. Notify us first to check for activities.
  2. No fires, no camping, no dogs, no firearms. No nighttime soaking. No motorized vehicles on the trail up. Please respect the owners wishes.
  3. Pack it out. Leave the site cleaner than when you went in.
  4. Keep it low key. Small groups, no boomboxes, etc. Drink alcohol responsibly, if at all.
  5. While nudity is normal at the springs and on the trail up, lewd or sexual behavior will not be tolerated.
  6. If asked to leave by the owner, Mike, myself, Rick, or Matt, please do so. We represent the owner's needs and know when a visit would be inappropriate . . . i.e., county inspectors assessing the site for permits.
  7. Consider making a donation to help offset cleanup and maintenance activities. Mike, Matt or myself would be happy to accept funds to buy trash bags and such.

Hopefully, I can get away myself and pay Scenic a visit soon. I miss the tranquility of the place and the friendly folks I meet up there.

Rick

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The springs are running cold, as the snow level has been well above the altitude of the soak. Lots of winter runoff coming down the mountain. On a different note, if you are hiking to the springs without permission and then have the nerve to not even clean up your mess (hike out your trash), you must be a sorry excuse for a human being! This is a hot spring people, WAKE UP! Anyway my name is Matt, maybe we might meet on a trail.