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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Some Thoughts on Winter Visits ...

Winter is certainly the best time to visit and soak in a natural hot springs but there are some considerations you should examine before you make a request to come on up.  Please think these over in deciding whether you want to make an attempt to hike up in winter snow conditions.  Remember that you accept responsibility for conditions, expected or unexpected.  We do not control the weather.
  • Check the weather forecasts in advance.  We attempt to cull some weather info and place it in the calendar to help you make a decision about whether to go or not.  If the weather does turn real ugly that you must turn back we will certainly try our best to accommodate you on another day.
  • Weather in the Cascades can get bad real fast.  The record snowpack at Stevens Pass was over 600 inches in 1968.  Snowpacks at Scenic have been recorded at over twenty feet.  That amount of snow means that some serious snowfalls have taken place on the mountainside . . . sometimes as much as two to three feet at a time.
  • Take Winter Storm Advisories seriously.  Stevens Pass channels winds and the snow that generates some fierce blizzards and whiteouts.  Don't get yourself caught up in the wilderness when a rogue winter storm rolls in.
  • Temperatures in the area hover in the teens and twenties during winter.  Add in the frequent winds churning over nearby Stevens Pass, and you have serious windchill temperatures with the accompanying danger of frostbite.
That said, if you dress appropriately you can stay warm and dry on your way to Scenic.  Dressing appropriately means winter clothing (thermal, wicking underlayers, and water/wind-resistant outer shell (parka)).  It means good boots designed for snow; gloves and warm hat.

Don't overestimate your abilities!  The hike up to Scenic is rigorous even in summer without any snow on the ground.  If you can't make it then admit it and we'll reschedule.  The hike is a little over two miles with 1,300 feet of elevation gain . . . most of that in the last third of a mile.  The snow could be a foot or two compacted down to Cascade Concrete at the gate but may very well be three or four feet of fresh powder overlaying the compacted layers higher up.  Without snowshoes you will be postholing through that powder and quickly exhausting yourself.
  • Carry snowshoes unless you absolutely know the snow conditions higher on the slopes.  If possible, choose Alpine snowshoes designed for steep slopes.  These types of snowshoes have an adjustable wedge that raises your heel on the snowshoe for snow-climbing conditions (the Denali Ascent snowshoes are a good example).
  • The last segment of the trail up is very steep.  In winter, the snow gets compacted with foot traffic.  Any hint of a brief melt and refreeze quickly turns this short segment of the trail into a treacherous ice chute.  Anyone who has skied off of the Barrier lift at Stevens and gone down the ridge of the bowl instead on into the bowl, knows what I mean.  Hard, slippery ice on a very steep and narrow trail . . . and a scary dropoff.  Carry a pair of crampons or strap-on ice cleats to deal with the ice.  They are cheap and well worth packing a pair into your backpack.
Children:   We love to see families enjoy Scenic and although kids may seem to be indefatigable and so energetic, consider their shorter legs trying to deal with the deep snow.

During and After the Soak . . .

Carry a couple of large trash bags to keep your clothes and pack dry while you soak.  Be very careful about exposing yourself to freezing weather when you get out of the hot pools.  Dry yourself and dress in stages as you progressively get out of the pool (i.e., stand up, dry your upper torso and put on a dry top . . . then step higher out of the pool and dry lower.  Carry an extra pair of socks as those you wear up are likely to be damp and ice cold.  Cover and protect your head, hands and feet as soon as possible after getting out of the hot springs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Make Your Request a Little Smoother ...

  1. Check the calendar in the sidebar.  Get an idea of how many people have requested access.
  2. We have a limit of the max. number of visitors per day.  When we approach 10-12 we will cut off any further requests.
  3. Give us time to respond.  We both have day jobs and often cannot respond to last minute requests.  We must have a Release From Liability statement from anyone wishing to visit Scenic Hot Springs.  This simply cannot be done over the phone.
  4. Call us if you just simply need information but do not call us to set up a reservation.  We won't have the information in front of us to give a 'yes' or 'no' answer.  Email your request.
  5. Give us at least two days advance notice.  We understand that a visit is often a moment of opportunity but don't simply drive up there, call us, and then expect us to give permission after-the-fact.
  6. Read the Conditions of Access before you make a request.  When you visit Scenic you do so agreeing to the conditions you may experience up there and you also release and hold harmless the owner from any liability resulting from being on the property.  You enter and visit at your own risk.  Yourself and every member of your party must agree to those terms BEFORE you visit.  The Conditions of Access (a link of which is also in the sidebar to the right) also informs you of what activities are not permitted up at Scenic, as well as a lot of useful information to make your visit enjoyable.
  7. When making a request, follow the three steps in the Conditions of Access and provide the necessary information as well as a statement of agreement to the terms.  Without that we can go no further and it will delay your request.
  8. We get a lot of requests . . . many of which go nowhere.  Put your name and date of request in the subject line (i.e., "Visit to Scenic on 12-25-2011, Rick" or something like that) so that we don't miss a request in the flurry of emails.

    Subsequent requests, please start a new email instead of continuing a request from months ago.  These messages sometime end up buried deeply in the thousands of other messages in the inbox.  Start a new thread.

    Don't use different email accounts as we can't tie together who is asking what.

    If you do not intend to follow through with a request, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can release and clean up the calendar of pending requests.
A best of all . . . thank you for all the great people who have visited Scenic in the past year.  Though trespassing is still a problem, it is not as much of a problem as it was in the past.  By everyone going through the proper procedure to visit, we are being a better neighbor with the authorities and keeping away problems.  Thank you all.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  2012 is going to be even better for soaking up at Scenic.

Mike, Rick, and Matt

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Great Trip Report

Thank you for giving me and my wife permission to visit the hot spring! We've always enjoyed soaking in hot springs before but that was in Asia. After going to your hot spring, all of our wonderful memories came back and the best part was that we didn't have to fly overseas!

This was our first snowshoe hike this season, and we are also kind of out of shape, so the steep hike was quite challenging. As I told you that I drove by the trail head the day before on my way to Leavenworth, we also stopped on the way up to Stevens Pass, looked across the mountain to see the trail under the power line, and it made us worried, but we were glad that we did not give up. After a good night rest at Leavenworth, we headed to the trail, parked at the lot next to the railroad, and started the hike at around 11:45am; by the time we got to the gate, we knew it wouldn't be easy and we got to take a break when we arrived at the first power line tower at around 12:20pm. Looking uphill at the three arms tower, it just made us want to look for excuses to turn around, but we just kept going and got to the tower at the top at around 1:10pm; another break was needed before we entered the tree covered trail. The last part of the trail was a killer, especially the part before the switchback! The only thing kept us going was that we knew we were almost there. I don't even know what time we got to the pools since we just couldn't wait to get in, probably around 2pm I think, so a little over 2 hours for the hike. The first pool was warm, but it felt cool after a while, so we just mostly stayed in the second hotter pool. No one else was there, so we had the whole place by ourselves. It was very relaxing and definitely worth everything to come here. We have our small picnic and soaked until around 3pm. We wanted to stay longer, but it started to snow, so we left around 3:45pm after we cleaned up and packed. Heading back was easy, we were so refreshed and it took us about 45mins to get back to the parking lot. It was getting dark, but no need to use my flash light yet.

This was a great experience and I am very impressed with all the work you put into this place. I just wished that it is closer to Portland so that I can enjoy this more often. Just can't wait to do this again some other time! Some friends already asked us about this and I hope you don't mind that I pointed them to your blogspot page. 

Thanks again and happy holiday! -Kevin.

Glad you persevered.  The soak at the end of a winter hike up to Scenic is well-worth it . . . as you well know.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hot Spring Trip Report

We love to receive trip reports from our visitors . . . and we especially love to receive positive reports like Jeff's:
Thanks for giving Kevin and I permission to go! It was a great experience. I had not expected the hike to be as challenging as it was, even though I was prepared to face snow and stay warm, I still was not prepared mentally for it. Once we started walking to the gate we realized we were in for a challenge but didn't give up, and totally glad I didn't because it was the best experience getting up to the top and sliding into those hot waters. Luckily there was a trail in the snow or we would've had a lot more difficulty finding the place and hiking up to it. Now I knew I was in for a workout, but this wasn't a workout, it seemed like an endurance test from God! haha But again, very rewarding. While we were there, we ran into Julliane and her boyfriend and they were very nice, and we just relaxed and talked about life and the hard hike up. We stayed until about 4:15 and decided to leave before it got dark, leaving the other two to enjoy the springs and wished them luck on the journey back. As we did we passed two people that were just getting there. And the guy said he had been coming there for years and said he didn't need permission to be there. Anyways, the hike down was nice seeing as it was down hill, by the time we got back to my car it was completely dark. You were not kidding about how dark it gets in the mountains! Luckily i had a very good flashlight to help guide us on the last bend. It took us a lot longer to hike and enjoy ourselves than what we thought, so I advise other people like myself to add a few more hours than what they planned for. 
The pools were very warm, and Lobster Pot of course the hottest, Bear Den was pretty dirty though, might've just been us moving and kicking around the crud on the bottom up. Lobster was a lot cleaner though. There was some trash but Kevin and I picked it up and threw it in our trash bag we brought. 
All in all it was a great experience, and Kevin and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Cell reception was somehow great, I had full bars and 3g! Very impressed with that. My friends were very jealous when i uploaded pictures onto facebook to show them what they were missing! Can't wait to do this again sometime!

Thank you Jeff for the great trip report.   I look forward to whatever photographs you are willing to share.

As to the two people who Jeff encountered heading on up . . . there are exactly three people (beyond the Forest Service, BPA and the sheriff's department on official business) who have unrestricted access to Scenic Hot Springs, and those two are not on that short list.  Regardless of how long they claim to have been going up, they are still trespassing and will eventually be dealt with.  See someone heading up late in the afternoon that you think shouldn't be heading up there?  Describe them as best you can but never, ever put yourself in jeopardy when meeting unexpected trespassers on the property.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Snow Coming

Some weather reports have a early winter storm bringing one to two feet of snow to the Central Cascades this weekend.  Be prepared ..

Friday, October 28, 2011

Alcohol & Soaking

This past week we again had to assist an group of soakers get safely off the hot springs property due to irresponsible use of alcohol.  Two young men and a woman went up to the springs (without permission).  When they were encountered up there it became not so much a matter of asking them to leave . . . but a recognition that once again people are under-estimating their ability to deal with alcohol, hot spring waters, and the wilderness conditions up at Scenic.

When encountered, the girl was seriously dehydrated, vomiting over the side of the pool . . . and obviously drunk.  None of them had brought any water up with them and none of them had any form of light to get back down the trail despite the oncoming darkness of evening.  The girl had to be carefully assisted (halfway carried) back down the trail in vanishing daylight and then driven down to the FS gate.  Their unpreparedness and irresponsibility could have become a recipe for disaster.

Rick on his soapbox . . .
I don't drink.  Nor do I do 'recreational' drugs.  Not that I begrudge anyone else enjoying a drink or a toke . . . alcohol and drugs are simply not for me.  Have your drink . . . or a bowl; but please do so responsibly.  Misuse or overuse of alcohol and drugs have been one of the primary excuses put forth by the county to put draconian requirements on access to Scenic Hot Springs.  Every young group carrying up cases of beer to the hot springs . . . despite our continued random patrols . . . is putting access to Scenic in jeopardy for everyone.  Drink responsibly . . . please.  Better yet, get your high out of simply being out in nature!
Rick off his soapbox

Now, what did this young trio do wrong?  One, they trespassed and did not have permission to be up there. Two, they brought no water with them . . . but had plenty of booze.  And three, no headlamps or flashlights.

Water is an essential when you are soaking . . . and alcohol is not a substitute for water!  The springs run 105F to 115F and quickly produce dehydration and heat exhaustion that depletes water by sweating.  Only by drinking plenty of water or a fluid-replenishment drink can you keep your electrolytes in balance.

Alcohol masks a lot of symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration and also hastens progress.  No one should ever drink so much alcohol that they lose common sense about what is going on . . . especially in the wilderness near quickly-approaching nightfall.

Guys . . . Gals . . . we care about you!  Please remember that you are several miles into the wilderness.  If something goes wrong you are a long way from help.  Drink responsibly and be prepared for the conditions, terrain, and nightfall that comes very suddenly on the mountainside.  Read the Conditions of Access instead of just saying you agree to them.  We wrote them for a reason and none of us need to give the county any more reasons to further limit access to Scenic Hot Springs.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Quick History of Scenic Hot Springs

Often requested is a short history of the springs.  The history of the springs is fascinating . . . inextricably tied to the railway and the early history of Washington . . . at then, still a territory.  The story begins with the original federal land grants to the railroad and magnates like James Hill of the Great Northern Railroad (now BNSF) and Frederick Weyerhaeuser of timber fame.  The stories range from the diaries of a young girl growing up in Scenic, the construction camps of those early rail workers to the history still soaked up in the Iron Goat Trail . . . the original switchback route over Stevens Pass.  the stories include disasters like the Wellington Train Avalanche disaster on March 1st, 1910 that remains to this day the worst train-avalanche disaster in the U.S. history.

Scenic Hot springs has been known and used in recent history since the 1880s when it was delightfully ‘discovered’ by rail workers constructing the original rail route over Stevens Pass.   There is no history (traditional or otherwise) of the Native American population ever using the springs.  Native Americans had seasonally berry-picked the area, but used nearby Cady Pass at 4,300 feet to cross the Cascades, and had seemed to miss Stevens Pass at 4,000 feet as a suitable crossing point.  The nearest "Indian" tribe was the Skykomish people who populated the area now known as Index . . . and rarely wandered further east than the valleys around the present-day town of Skykomish (The Skykomish Tribe . . . now a part of the Tulalips) . . . traveled  mainly on the North Fork of the Skykomish River.

At the sources of the hot springs
(source: Seattle Times, March 11th, 1906)

The actual discovery of the springs is generally credited to Stevens and Haskell during their searches for a rail route over the Cascades.  During construction of the three alignments of the Great Northern route over Stevens Pass (culminating in the current Cascade Tunnel in 1929), Japanese workers used the hot springs at the sources.  Eventually, a hotel was built at the eastern terminus of the line from Seattle and water piped down to be re-heated.  The actual springs, however, remained the purview of non-white railroad laborers

Analysis of spring waters
Notably missing from the analysis is the Lithium content.
The flow rate of 4 Miner's Inches is equivalent to 30 GPM,
not far off the present flow rate.
(source: Seattle Times, March 11th, 1906)

During those early days the hotel (and later, the burgeoning community around it) were variously called Madison Hot Springs and Scenic Hot Springs.  On completion of the Switchback lines over Stevens Pass,  an upscale sanatorium and hotel (the Scenic Hot Springs Hotel) operated and boasted of the hot springs waters and the boons to health.  That hotel (and its previous two incarnations) were built by a Mr. Prosser next to the newly constructed Great Northern railway line over Stevens Pass (the Iron Goat Trail nowadays).  

The hotel in it's early days . . . later extensively landscaped.
(source: Seattle Times, August 27th, 1905)

The hotel was a luxurious resort for the rich and famous (and white) from Seattle . . . the hot springs water piped two and a half miles down the mountain to the hotel where it was reheated to 130 F.    Sadly, that hotel was torn down in 1929 to make room for the new Cascade Railroad Tunnel under Stevens Pass.  As recompense to the owner of the hotel, the Great Northern Railway deeded the 40 acres containing the hot spring sources within its railway land grant to Mr. Prosser.  Later a partnership of Seattle-area doctors bought the property as a recreational getaway.  In the fifties, the property was extensively harvested for its timber . . . there are still remnants of old logging spurs on the property to this day and, if you view the property from Hwy 2 closer to Stevens Pass you can clearly see the property boundaries where sixty years of new growth has filled in the forty acres.

Scenic Hot Springs in the late 90s . . . the large deck almost finished.

During the late 1980s and 90s Scenic was ‘rediscovered’ by a new generation. Elaborate pool construction and deck work on the steep forested slopes commenced without the property owners knowledge nor proper permits for sensitive and steep slopes. In the 90s into 2001 Scenic became a party destination, garnering too much attention. Alcohol and drug abuse was rampant, assaults common and car vandalism a major problem. In October of 2001 the King County Sheriff’s Department gave the owner an ultimatum . . .remove the illegal construction and abate activities at the springs, or face the legal consequences. A few days later deputies raided the springs and dismantled the pools and deck work. That destruction sat on the mountainside for the next several years until the present owner bought the property with promises to reopen Scenic Hot Springs legally to the public once again. Today we remain in sensitive negotiations to obtain those permits.

The present owner is Mike Sato.  He is Japanese.  Mike lives in Canada and is probably the foremost expert in North America on hot springs.  Mike has operated Meager Creek Hot Springs in Canada and has been involved in the management and operation of Skookumchuck Hot Springs (also in Canada).  Matt and myself (Rick) represent Mike's interests at Scenic Hot Springs.  Mike's intent is to keep Scenic rustic and eventually reconstruct three natural-rock soaking pools, a proper latrine, changing room and caretaker's cabin on the property.  Our job is to break the old, troublesome behavior of the past and control access to Scenic . . . make Scenic a good neighbor so the county will issue those final permits.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cold Temps Are Coming

Scenic traditionally gets its first snowfall around the middle of October each year.  I suspect that this year will be no different and, in fact, forecasts are predicting a wetter and colder winter season this year.  Already, the nighttime lows for Stevens Pass are dipping into the below freezing range.  Stevens Pass is at 4,000 ft . . . the hot springs are only 500 ft lower (at 3,500 ft).  It will not take much of a fluctuation in weather patterns to suddenly drop cold, wet, freezing weather onto unprepared visitors to Scenic Hot Springs.

Six or seven years ago the owner and myself witnessed a man and his young son from Oregon heading up to the hot springs in late afternoon.  They appeared to be in good shape and wore bulky clothing that we assumed was adequate.  After stopping on the upper BPA Road and talking to them, Mike gave his permission to get in a quick soak before nightfall descended.  He had their assurances that they would be off the mountain before it got dark.  That was October 15th and it had been drizzling cold slushy rain all afternoon with traces of white snow beginning to stick to the ground.  Mike and myself were dead-tired, thoroughly soaked and cold beneath our rain-slickers, and starving for some chow.  We left them, thinking little to the potential of a sudden weather change.  After all, we had their assurances.

The next day Mike went back up to Scenic with another of our volunteers . . . it might have been Matt but I'm not sure.  The drive up to the trail-head was a treacherously slippery powering up with one to two inches of snow.  Halfway up they came across the young boy from the day before, exhausted and near collapsed . . . tugging and pulling on his father's arms . . . attempting to drag him down the BPA Road and the safety of their car still parked at the gate.

Mike and the volunteer got the two into the cab of the truck, turned around and got them to safety.  At the car . . . heater going full and father just coming around . . . they got the story out of the pair.  They'd made it up to the springs alright . . . soaked and dallied and lost track of time as the snowflakes fell faster and fatter.  The sky became a whiteout and snow quickly piled up . . . and just as quickly, suddenly it was getting dark.  Father and son decided it was time to head back.  Problem was . . . where was the trail?  Their footprints up had been eradicated by four to five inches of fresh snow. 

The pair made it halfway to the switchback and then did the only sensible thing.  They backtracked to known safety . . . the hot springs.  They risked a miserable night in the hot springs versus getting hopelessly lost like a lone hiker did in 1995.  I will recount that story some other time . . . as I witnessed some of the events leading up to a massive search and rescue effort and miraculous rescue after four days.  Our father and son team decided to stick it out in the one warm place within reach . . . the hot spring pools.

They spent the night there . . . miserable, without any lights and continuing snowfall.  By morning the snow had stopped and they decided to try and find their way out in daylight.  Unfortunately, all their clothing had become soaked through and through.  Try they did in wet clothing and near-freezing temperatures.  At some point on the way down, the boy's father simply couldn't go any further.  He was falling into hypothermic shock . . . given up and lay down in the snow.  The boy persevered and dragged his father down those slopes to the point where Mike encountered them.  Fortunately, everything turned out all right and both recovered quickly once back in their car with a change into dry clothes and the heater going full.  It could have turned tragic.

Weather in the Cascades can turn fickle very quickly.  As I sit here typing these words it is pouring outside.  Up in the mountains the snow level is quickly dropping.  Thunderheads are piling up over the Cascade ridges.  Will it snow tonight?  Probably not but are you willing to risk your life on going up there unprepared for our fickle Cascade weather?  Scenic gets some of the worst conditions as winds channel through the passes and dump moisture at record rates before climbing over the pass to the other side.  Don't underestimate Mother Nature.  Be prepared!

  • Cotton Kills:  When cotton clothes get wet they soak heat very quickly away from your body.  Wear wicking, synthetic underclothes and an insulating, water-repellent outer shell.  Layer your clothes to add or remove as the temperatures require.
  • Wear sturdy hiking boots:  This is not the time for sneakers, flip-flops, fancy dress boots with big heels.  Keeping your feet warm is half the battle . . . those feet have to carry you back out at the end of the day.
  • Wear gloves . . . insulating and water-proof.  The extremities feel the cold early and quickly become useless if cold forces cramping of fingers.
  • Wear a warm hat:  We lose sixty percent of all our body heat through our heads.
  • As snow deepens on the slopes of Scenic (and it can get to twenty feet deep at the height of winter), consider taking along your snowshoes and crampons to deal with soft snowfalls and icy slopes.
  • Carry a couple of large plastic bags in your backpack . . . they serve to protect your clothes while you soak, give you someplace dry to sit down upon, and in a pinch could provide a DIY poncho or shelter if worse comes to worse.
  • Carry your cell phone . . . fully-charged and kept warm to prolong battery life.  Cell phones often do work at the hot springs site in an emergency.
  • Have two to three different ways to light a fire in an emergency.  Invest in a $3 tube of fire paste that will sustain a fire even with wet, green wood.  Make your own water-proof matches by dipping wooden kitchen matches in paraffin and storing in a water-tight film canister along with a striking surface (such as a piece of emery cloth or sandpaper).
  • Have a couple days worth of high-energy snacking foods and water to sustain you in the event things turn really ugly and you have to sit it out.  Don't eat snow for water . . . you drive your core body temperature way down.  Don't drink hot springs waters . . . the mineral load will probably give you distress.
Above all . . . don't panic.  and you did let someone know where you were going and the expected time back, didn't you?

Winter can be the best time to visit Scenic but please visit it safely.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Late Night Trespassers

A continuing problem and one we are going to deal with, involving law enforcement.  Two samples from last week . . . if this is you, you are not welcome at Scenic.  If we catch you at Scenic we will have charges pressed.

I'm particularly concerned with the individual carrying what appears to be a shotgun . . . accompanied by half a dozen dogs and inadequately dressed accomplices.  Are these also the people who tore down a metal roofing section, dragged it beside the soaking pools, and used it to hold a fire late at night?

A group of four (including a young child) and a guy with a gun.
The video shows numerous dogs running loose

The second example of trespassing is the guy in a full-body white pickup truck that comes rolling in about 10pm and doesn't leave until after 4am . . . at which time the video shows several other accomplices.  I've seen this same truck on surveillance before (which gives me the license plate).  Is this the same individual who has been making unauthorized changes to the springs?

Arrived around 10pm, left after 4am

Finally, an authorized visitor.  The video shows this GSA-plated vehicle going through the gate and up.  I bring it up because these Federal officers were responding to a complaint in the area.  Yes, they do have the key and we welcome their presence.  We do not welcome uninvited trespassers who jeopardize the future of Scenic and might bring law enforcement responses of a less-friendly nature through those gates.

GSA-plated law enforcement just back from the area above

Soaking in Wet Weather

Autumn is upon us with cooler weather . . . soon to be cold weather.  A sensible precaution from Matt . . . carry a couple of large trash bags with you and use them to keep your clothing and other belongings dry while you soak.  The plastic trash bag will keep your clothes safe and out of the rain . . . and also prevent the huge amount of humidity near the springs from dampening your clothes and making for a cold, miserable trip back down the mountain after your soak.

As a Friend of the Wilderness, that trash bag can also do double-duty to pack out some of the trash left by other, inconsiderate people.  And, in a sudden downpour, poke a couple of holes in an extra sack for arms and head to make a makeshift and very effective poncho.

Cold weather is coming soon.  In the last several years, first snowfall at Scenic has been around the middle of October.  Be prepared!  After soaking your skin will be thoroughly hydrated and very susceptible to cold injuries (frost nip, frost bite, hypothermia) Avoid wearing cotton as cotton, wet, saps heat faster than if you were nude.  The cliche with outdoor types is that "cotton kills".  Practice layering and wear a weather-proof outer shell.  Have gloves and some sort of warm hat.

Put away the sneakers and light-weight hiking shoes.  Time to pull out the hiking boots.  The trail up to Scenic is steep and rough . . . slippery in wet weather.  Protect your feet from rolling an ankle with sturdy footwear.

Lastly, if you haven't requested and received permission, do so before traipsing onto private property.  It's easy to do so with an email to and we rarely turn anyone down if they accept the Conditions of Access.  If nothing else, at least let somewhere know where you are going.

Finally, these activities are expressly prohibited on Scenic property:

  • Night time visits or camping
  • Campfires or fires of any kind
  • Pets (specifically dogs)
  • Motorized vehicles of any kind (with the exception of BPA, Law Enforcement, and Scenic reps)
  • Firearms (this also becomes a Federal offense if carried or fired within the BPA clearcut)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Scenic Clean Up Party this coming Saturday (Oct 1st, 2011)

This coming Saturday we will be having one of our last improvement events of this season in preparation for the winter weather.  We need to do some serious brush and vegetation clearing about halfway up the trail in preparation of an alternative trail route and a staging area for old construction material.

Matt will host this event starting at 11am at the gate off the highway.  What is needed is:

  • Gas powered brush cutter (or weed whacker with a brush cutting attachment)
  • Chain saw or two . . . there are a number of tree falls across the area we envision using
  • Loppers, tree saws, rakes . . . whatever aids cutting and removing brush

Lots of energy and a willingness to do some major clearing.  Wear sensible, protective clothing, good footwear and gloves.  Afterwards we will get to soak and enjoy recovering sore muscles in the hot springs from a job well-done and much appreciated.  and, this event goes toward earning that annual pass...


Friday, the day before, Matt and myself will be doing some construction work down lower in the Honeymoon Springs area.  This one is not an open invitation . . . if you already have permission for that day, no problem.  Just stay clear of the areas we are working on and pay heed to red construction tape blocking the trail . . . which would mean we are bringing supplies down that may present a hazard to those coming up the trail if it let loose.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cameras at Scenic

There is a rumor being spread locally that there are cameras all over the place at Scenic.  While that is somewhat true, those cameras are located in the lower areas focusing on the parking area and the trailhead.  They are there to deter trespassing and vandalism . . . and hopefully to prosecute criminal activity that used to take place in the past.

We want to assure all guests and legal visitors that there are no cameras located at the pool areas.  We have no intention of invading your enjoyment or privacy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Clean Up Party this Saturday (Sep 17th 2011)

This Saturday is the makeup day for the cancelled clean up last weekend.  I know it is short notice so I hope some of you can make it.

Matt will be hosting the clean up around 11am and the goal of this event is to clear brush and vegetation on the short spur road halfway up to the springs.  This spur will be used later as a staging area for debris above the springs, and also as an alternative route around the worst parts of Rock Alley.

What we need are:

  • Loppers and Tree Saws
  • A gas-powered trimmer with a brush-cutting attachment and possibly 
  • A Chain Saw to help clear some of the fallen trees across this spur road.

Friday, September 09, 2011

This Saturday's Clean Up is Cancelled

Due to a family emergency, the clean up scheduled for Saturday, Sept 10th, 2011, is cancelled due to a family medical emergency.  Thanks to all those who offered to help.  We will try to schedule another clean up next week on the following Saturday.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Caution: Moose on property

There are reports of a single aggressive moose wandering the clearcut of the property.  Please be cautious and aware, and make plenty of noise so as not to startle the moose should it be around.

Some pics from Tony (who was helping out on the property at the time).  his words:  Here are the best pictures we could get of the moose at scenic,  since all we had was a cell phone.   I think they do it justice:-).  these pics are taken 50ft or so from the first tower you come to at the bottom of the clear cut.

Some tips from

Don't Mess with a MooseBy James Hyde  
When you’re hiking and happen upon a moose, they can appear laid back and 
they can even be approached and fed depending on what season it is, but 
neither is ever a good idea. If it’s rutting season, approaching a bull moose is 
like poking a grizzly bear with a stick.

If you come upon a moose that’s close by, leave it alone, regardless of how 
docile it may appear. And then there's the issue of sex.

Bull moose (males) are most dangerous during the rutting season, much of the 
fall and into the winter. Mating fatigues them as does walking in heavy snows. 
They’ve been known to bed down under people’s decks or lean against 
structures, exhausted. But that's not an invitation to go "pat the nice moose."

The female of the species, cows, can get very ugly when approached, 
especially during the spring and summer seasons after they’ve calved or are 
teaching their youngsters the ways of the wild. You’d get a little ornery too if 
you’d just passed a 60-pound calf. And getting between a cow and a calf is 
like standing in mid street during the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. 
Cows get very protective of their young and have been known to take on wolf 
packs to save them.

Unfortunately, many people don’t know the charge warning signs and decide 
to get as close as possible so a picture can be taken of them near a moose. Why 
not? Moose have been known to walk up to people almost nonchalantly as if 
they’re inviting interaction. Uh, don’t be too quick to accept the perceived 

Moose will walk slowly up to a person for one of two reasons: 1. To warn you 
to get off their turf; 2. Because they expect you to offer up some food. In either 
case, it’s not approaching to be patted. The smartest thing to do is run until 
you put something big and hard between you and that moose.

The warning signs that a charge is imminent (which is distinct from 
meandering in your direction) are:

1. The hair on the hump on its back is raised;
2. The ears are down and back; and
3. It starts licking its lips.

According to wildlife authorities, if you can see it licking its lips, you’re way 
too close anyway.

More often than not, if you run away from a moose, it’ll probably end its 
pursuit after a relatively short run. But if one does charge, do your best to run 
and get behind something solid. If there’s a tree nearby, move around it and 
away from the charging beast. You’re far more agile than it is, so you could 
escape it that way, by continuing to encircle the tree or climbing it if possible.

If a moose charges, unless you’re really close to it, it’s usually a warning...
bluffs to see what you’ll do. If it doesn’t get the response it want (your speedy 
departure) and does charge you, it will kick out with its forelegs when it gets 
close enough and can cause some serious injury doing that alone. More often, 
it will knock you down and has been known to use all four hooves on anyone 
on the ground.

The smartest thing to do under that scenario is to curl up in a fetal position, 
protect your head with your hands and arms and remain absolutely 
motionless. Do not move until the animal is well away from you or you may 
trigger a second attack.

If you are attacked, seek medical attention right away. Injuries do put people 
into shock, and if you get shocky, you’ll be in no shape to assess your medical 
condition on your own. If the moose breaks a rib or two, you could suffer a 
pneumothorax (collapsed lung), which is very serious. So get to the nearest 
hospital as quickly as possible for a full examination.

For the most part, moose are twig and bark eaters and get their name from the 
Algonquin Indians for precisely what they eat.

If you see one and have a camera, snap away, but from a safe distance. It’s 
definitely a “don’t touch/don’t feed” creature.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Scenic Cleanups Coming Up

Two cleanup parties are scheduled at Scenic Hot Springs in the near future:

  • Wednesday, Sept 7th, 2011 hosted by Rick and,
  • Saturday,  Sept 10th, 2011 hosted by Matt
Wednesday, Sept 7th, 2011 at 11am
This coming Wednesday promises to finally bring some really nice, warm weather . . . something we've missed on the last two cleanups.  This cleanup will start at 11am with sign-in at the gate.  The object of Wednesday's cleanup is moving old, rolled up tarps and Styrofoam blocks from the upper bench to a staging area lower on the trail.  We will also be moving some of the treated lumber all the way down near the trailhead for eventual use for a Welcome sign.

Saturday, Sept 10th, 2011 at 11am
Saturday we have the ambitious project of brush clearing the logging spur that goes off to the right just below Rock Alley.  This logging spur road presents an alternative and potentially easier route past some of the worst of the upper trail . . . especially in winter.  The far end of this spur is also a great location for eventually staging debris for proper disposal.  We need as many people to participate in this event as possible because there is a lot of overgrown brush and fallen trees to clear.

Matt will start this cleanup party again by 11am at the gate.  What is needed is:
    • Lot's of energetic and willing hands
    • Brush-clearing tools
      • Gas powered weed-whacker with a brush-clearing attachment
      • Loppers and tree saws
      • A chain saw
Due to the large amount of brush we will probably get a burn permit.  Gloves and good footing is a necessity here.

Both these events count toward obtaining an Annual Pass . . . your participation is very much appreciated.  If there is interest we can set up a BBQ . . . everybody bring something to share.  And the hot springs are available to sooth overused muscles after the cleanup.  Water will be available for those who forget or run out.

Scenic Access, Cleanups & the next Clean Up

Thanks to everyone who dropped by on the previous two cleanups at Scenic.  We made some major progress in clearing vegetation that was beginning to crowd the trail and at this last clean up, made a huge dent in organizing that large pile of debris left over from the destruction years ago.  For those of you who have been up to Scenic, that pile of rubbish left over from the county demolition was an eyesore, yet remained a quandary about just how to approach it . . . there is so much of it.  In the past we have encouraged volunteers to help out by moving bits at a time down the mountainside to a more easily approached staging area.  That has met with limited success.  The pile has actually grown larger from thoughtless individuals who considered it their personal dumping ground rather than pack their rubbish out.

However, we have organized the large pile into recyclables and non . . . metals, plastics, wood, etc; and neatened the whole thing up so that it does not seem like such and insurmountable mess after all.  Over the next few clean up parties we will start moving this stuff downward for disposal.

This tarp covers 20-30 rotting and now-rolled up and tied
(for easy carrying) old tarps from the past.

All the old plastic tubing has been neatly stacked

Metal debris . . . definitely recyclable.
Beside it all the Styrofoam block from the old tubs 

The campfire ring . . . the concrete steps moved as benches
moved back and the area cleaned up

The Boy Scouts also had a hand in helping Scenic out with their recent campout event.  The Scouts did a through garbage pickup of the property and then constructed a very welcome bench for hikers to rest for a moment on the trail up.  We thank the Scouts for their enthusiasm and contribution.  They are always welcome back.

The Scouts made this bench for us.  Sturdy and so simple!

Access to Scenic

Scenic Hot springs is private property and we have to keep reminding people of that fact of life.  Trespassers continue to be a problem at Scenic and it seems to be the same people and groups time after time that we encounter.  Most feign ignorance and swear they never knew . . . that they never saw the six separate No Trespassing/Posted/Private Property signs on the way up.  For the owner, this is a serious and continuing problem as final permitting is contingent of proving we can control access.

Night time visits, fires and camping are also proving to be difficult problems, requiring expensive cameras and random patrols by the stewards to control these activities.  We have had to involve the sheriff's department and the Forest Service with increased patrols at least to the gate (and sometimes further up).  Again, this puts Scenic above the radar and threatens the possibility that progress can go forward.

The owner (and the stewards, Matt and Rick) have no problem with people enjoying the springs . . . as long as they ask first and get permission.  Your contributions, that should be going toward trail improvements and pools liners, is instead being used up in increased surveillance and patrolling.  This has caused us to set up new procedures for access to Scenic.

Advance Notice:
Except under extraordinary circumstances, we require at least two days advance notice of a request to visit Scenic Hot springs.  There is a Google connect button on the blog that may be used to ask general questions but not for reservations . . . use an email to to request access.

Not all requests are accepted.  We limit the max number of visitors per day to ten (10).  We also have to balance access with official activities such as contractors or inspectors.  At times we may close to springs for special events (such as the Boy Scouts), or clean up parties.

Exclusive Reservations:
Permission to visit Scenic does not offer you exclusive use of the hot springs.  It would be almost impossible and certainly unmanageable to assign one or two hour time slices for a visit.  Your reservation is for the daylight hours and you should expect that others may have also asked to visit on the same day.  The springs are communal and the best part about soaking . . . with others.

However, large groups may request an exclusive reservation at the expense of other requests by contributing at the $100 rate for weekdays (Monday through Friday) and $150 for weekends and holidays.

An unfortunate aspect of the remoteness and terrain of Scenic Hot Springs is that it is almost impossible to catch and turn away all the people who head up to the springs without permission (trespassing).  But it is getting better.  If you are comfortable with it, you may ask arrivals on your reserved day if they also have permission . . . or if uncomfortable, harassed or threatened in any way to call the steward's phone number on your permission email (or 911 if it is an emergency).  We do ask that no one ever take matters into their own hands and kick trespassers out.  Do not put yourself at risk!  If your day is ruined we will try to make it up to you with another reservation.

A new tarp to line the pool costs $80.  We need two of them.  TrailCams cost upwards from $400 and we have several of them now.  Every work party costs money for supplies, tools, time.  Every time we replace a cut-open lock sets us back $35  plus the damage to the gate.  The owner has authorized us to collect a small fee to help offset these costs.

The contribution has been kept at $5 per person for the past year and will remain at that level for weekday visits.  Weekends have seen increased use and the suggested contribution is now $10 per person for weekend and holidays.  Exclusive reservations (for large groups) is $100 during the week (Monday through Friday) and $150 on weekends and recognized holidays.  An exclusive reservation may not always been granted if there is already a stated large interest in reserving a spot on that particular day.

Conditions of Access
If you've asked for access in the past then you are familiar with the Conditions of Access.  We are quite serious about those conditions and require everybody who goes onto Scenic property to accept and abide by those conditions before we will even consider access.

We will be redoing and re-posting of the Conditions of Access in a more readable and easier to download format in a few days.  The first step anyone should do before sending off an email to request access, is to download them and read the 'conditions'.  In your email to us you should make the statement that you "have read and understand the Conditions of Access and all members of my group agree to abide by them."

In a nutshell, the Conditions of Access require that you recognize the nature of the terrain and hot springs and absolve the owner and his representatives of any liability.  Without that agreement, no one gets on the property legally.

The conditions also proscribe (forbid) certain activities:

  • No night time use.  The deep canopy of the upper trail goes into darkness much earlier than official sunset. Historically, nighttime is when the problems arise and the reason for no nighttime use. Be off the trail before flashlights and headlamps become necessary.
  • No camping:  In a way, overnight campers are tempted to sneak into the pools or wander the trails in darkness.  The owner, thus, does not want camping to go on on his property.
  • No campfires or fires or any kind.  Scenic abuts National Wilderness Area and is completely surrounded by National Forest.  Fires are a very real danger in this area and Scenic is often in a proscribed burn ban area.
  • No dogs (or other pets).  We all love our dogs and want them to accompany us on the trail.  However, they present problems.  One is that they often are not under control and a nuisance to other soakers.  Two, irresponsible owners allow their dogs to do their thing wherever the want and threaten sensitive wetlands and the springs sources.  Third, there has been more than one scary encounter between a dog and the mama black bear that traverses the property from time to time.  Leave fido at home.
  • No weapons (guns, rifles, permit-carrying or otherwise) are allowed on Scenic property.
There are a number of other conditions so read the Conditions of Access.  Eventually, night use, camping, campfires and dogs will be relaxed as a responsible soaking population respects Scenic.  Most of these requirements are as a result of our negotiations with the County and the Forest Service.  As Scenic evolves into a good neighbor you will see a safer Scenic, soak while watching the jet-black nighttime sky and find tenting and established campfire rings for your enjoyment.  But none of this is going to happen if we can't prove to the authorities that vandalism, rowdy behavior and trespassing is under control.  We ask for your help. 

Authority of the Stewards
Matt and myself (Rick) are the stewards of Scenic Hot Springs.  We have specific and legal authority to act in the owner's behalf on matters concerning the day to day activities up at Scenic.  We also have a good and ongoing relationship with the King County Sheriff's Deputy in Skykomish, the Bonneville Power Administration (through which their power lines run through the property), and the Rangers and Law Enforcement Officers of the Skykomish Ranger Station for the Mt Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest.

Our charge is to maintain the status-quo of Scenic Hot Springs to prevent deterioration of the existing springs and pools, and to deter potentially new behind-the-scenes construction.  We also seek to change the free-wheeling culture of the past to eliminate the reasons Scenic got closed down in the past.  As stewards and ambassadors, we try to build relationships with communities and authorities as we pursue those final permits.

We are not paid a stipend to watch over Scenic.  We do this because we believe Scenic is worth fighting for instead of the county's initial idea of forever capping the springs with concrete.  We both have day jobs of our own and are often not able to be a Scenic all the time.  However, we do randomly visit and patrol two to three times a week, as well as organize and run the clean-up events.

Eventually, control of Scenic will pass to a paid caretaker living on-site.  That will be neither of us but there are no lack of volunteers.  When Scenic gets a full-time caretaker the fees for access will go up to pay those wages and maintain the springs.

The Next Work Party
Good, you've read this far ...

The next clean up event will be this coming Wednesday, the 7th of September, 2011.  The weather promises to be kind to us this time with temps around the 80s.  We will attempt to get as much of the rolled up tarps and styrofoam down the trail as possible.

An additional goal is to prepare an area lower down on the trail for signage and an honor-box.

Rick will run this event.  If you can join, RSVP.  Detail in another posting.

Matt has promised a weekend cleanup party soon.  Watch for details here.

And thanks to all those responsible soakers that have made us feel much more optimistic about the future of Scenic.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Scenic clean up this Wednesday

Scenic Hot Springs is closed this Wednesday for a clean up event.  Those not participating will be turned away.

Short notice weekday event.  We need to get a start of that large debris pile on the bench above the hot springs.  What we would like to do is classify and sort some of the stuff and move the more useless stuff lower on the trail for easier disposal.

Also need someone with a chainsaw to do some deadfall cutting on the trail.

RSVP back to if you can make it.  I plan to be at the gate around 11am to let participants drive in a little further.  Wear good shoes/boots and gloves.  Clothing-optional so whatever else makes you comfortable.  We get to soak later on and this event counts toward an annual pass.  Hope to see a good turnout and beautify Scenic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scenic closed for the Scouts Aug 19 & 20th

The Hot Springs have been reserved exclusively for a Boy Scout camping and community service event on Friday and Saturday (Aug 19th and 20th until 4pm).  Please respect this event and let the scouts enjoy their weekend.  Matt and myself will be making spot checks this weekend to insure their enjoyment.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Earn an Annual Pass

Participate in four cleanup events during the season at Scenic Hot Springs and get an annual pass good for a year.  Washington State Parks offers an Discover annual pass after 35 hours of volunteer work.  We offer a chance to visit and soak up at Scenic . . . subject to availability . . . after only four participating events averaging six to eight hours (or 24 to 32 hours of volunteering your time to keep Scenic clean and available).

With an annual pass you just let us know when you'd like to go up and if there are no restrictions (closures, exclusive reservations, special events, or full booking) you just head on up.  Annual Pass holders will get special consideration to enjoy night soaking and camping in exchange for standing duty as a presence up at Scenic to deter trespassing.  Annual Pass holders may also bring one other person along with them gratis on us.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wednesday's Clean Up Party

Well, we have an ambitious agenda for this coming Wednesday but we don't have to accomplish everything . . . there are plenty of more sunny days for additional clean-up parties.  What we would most like to accomplish is trash pickup and vegetation removal on the trail.  Anything else is a bonus.

This springs will be closed to visitors all day Wednesday.  It would be nice if we could get some idea of who could attend . . . RSVP to .  But you are certainly welcome to simply show up and pitch in.  The gate will be open around 11am and remain so until late at night after we enjoy a night soak.  If you plan on satying late with us don't forget a flashlight or headlamp for the hike back down the trail.  Parking for participants will be in the clearcut area and at the trailhead for those 4x4 capable vehicles.

Does anyone have a chainsaw to cut up a rather large fallen tree across the trail?  How about gas-powered weed-whackers?  We will bring an assortment of shovels and such but more is always handy.  Bring your gloves.  We will have some extras as well as trash bags for pickup.

As usual, these summer cleanup events are clothing-optional so feel free to work on your tan lines.  I know I will be doing so, even as I'm cutting down Devil's Club.

Oh . . . did I mention.  You get to soak afterward.  Here's your chance.

Agenda for upcoming Clean Up Party:
1.       Trash pickup along the route (trash bags supplied)
a.       At the Forest Service gate and the low area off to the right
b.       Along the Forest Service road and the BPA road to the trailhead
c.       Along and to the sides as far as practical on the trail up
d.       Around the main pool area and particularly on the rocks below the pools
2.       Trail Maintenance (in need of at least one chainsaw, and several gas weed-whackers)
a.       Cutback of encroaching vegetation, particularly the Devil’s Club
b.       Chainsaw and removal of fallen tree trunk across upper trail
c.       Re-emplacement of water-bars that were moved by x-cross cycle trespassers (possibility of emplacing a couple of more water-bars)
d.       Water runoff improvement near the crossing creeks (clearing ditches, deepening)
e.       Culvert clearing where needed
f.         Safety improvements for footing in the Rock Alley area
3.       Site Improvements
a.       Incremental removal of 2001 demolition debris to a lower staging area
b.       Rustic rest benches at several scenic spots along the trail (any carpenters?)
c.       Survey of alternative trail routes (Rick)
d.       Foundation prep and layout for signage and honor box (Honeymoon Springs area)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Scenic Clean Up Party this coming Wednesday

There will be a clean-up party at Scenic Hot springs this coming Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 starting around 11am.  More details will be posted soon.  Hope many of you can attend and help keep this serene location beautiful and enjoy the comadre of friends.  More details by tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Scenic Hot Spring Conditions (as of May 30th)

In general:  The snow melt has dropped the temps of the Lobster Feeds to very cold.  Therefor that pool's feed has been redirected.

The other pool is fed from a different set of hot springs sources and those temperatures are remaining good.  The water in the Bear Den Pool is around 105F and a good soak.

A large tree has fallen just off the FS road near the gate

First evidence of snow just short of the first bypass

A tree fallen across the road on th upper FS road prior to the clearcut

The clearcut and BPA roads are snowfree

A stream is cutting across the road and damaging it near where the second bypass begins

Always a problem, this culvert on the upper BPA road is in need of cleaning out.

The beginning of the hot springs trail, looking up toward the Honeymoon Creek area

Snow deepens just above Meadows Creek

Rock Alley, snow free.  Probably because of snowmelt running down

The snow above Rock Alley.  This section is steep, the snow giving and heavy with ice beneath.

Ankle-biters.  Watch where you step lest you step through into voids like this.

Much easier going on the upper bench above the switchback

A tree fallen near the old latrine

Lobster Pool.  Frigid and dirty.  I emptied and cleaned this pool, redirecting the feeds away.
Bear Den does remain nice and comfy for a soak (105F)

On the way back down, taking the FS road instead of the bypasses
there are a few large trees blocking vehicle access