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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs offers secluded, little known hot spring

Price of admission is leaving the site better than when you found it

12:25 PM, Dec 27, 2012   |  
All that remains at the Lower Breitenbush site are the bathhouse foundations and their built-in tubs along the river.
All that remains at the Lower Breitenbush site are the bathhouse foundations and their built-in tubs along the river.
The trail to Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs is steep and rugged at times.

Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs

Directions: Leave Salem on Highway 22 for 50 miles. Turn left on Breitenbush Road (FSR #46) as you enter the town of Detroit. Drive for 9 miles and turn right on FSR #2231 toward Breitenbush Retreat Center. Cross bridge and stay to the left. Drive approximately 1 mile. Parking will be on your left just after the yellow “congestion” sign.

Distance from Salem: 60 miles or one hour and 15 minutes.

General area: Detroit, Willamette National Forest

Season: All year. Road plowed all the way to Breitenbush Retreat Center.

Fees: None

Elevation: 2,300 feet

Road conditions:

Trail distance: 1 mile round trip.

Kid friendly: Yes

Dog friendly: No, hot springs water makes them sick.

Volunteer opportunities: Detroit Ranger Station, 503-854-3366. There are no scheduled volunteer events for Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs at this time, but the Forest Service would like a list of interested persons for future events to be planed.
Early winter can be an awkward time of year for many avid outdoor enthusiasts. We’ve been hitting as many low elevation trails as we can possibly find because the higher elevations are at a transition point this time of year.
As the temperatures drop in the mountains, so does the snow level. However, until the freezing temperatures become more consistent, we are stuck with a landscape too muddy or slushy to hike, ski or snowshoe before the desired snow pack has accumulated. Instead of sulking in this fact, I’ve decided to soak in it. That’s right, another hot spring!
Before I let you in on this little known gem, you have to promise to respect and protect it. Promise? The Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs, also known as the “Russian Tubs” obviously has a rich history, but no one I’ve spoken with, including Mr. Google, seems to know much of it. I believe this is largely because it is so closely located to the popular, but privately owned Breitenbush Retreat Center up stream. The two individual sites share much of their history.
Many years ago, Native Americans traveled hundreds of miles to soak in the healing waters of these hot springs. European fur trappers discovered it in the 1840s and later named it after the one armed explorer settled there, John Breitenbush. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt granted homestead rights of the upper site to another settler, making much of it private property. At one point, the lower site was well developed under a special use permit with bath houses, a foot bridge, camp store, and cabin rentals across the Breitenbush River.
Both sites were severely damaged from flooding in the 1970s. The private retreat center up stream was rebuilt and further developed while the site on public land was never restored to suitable conditions prompting the Forest Service to not renew the required special use permit. Today there are no structures remaining at Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs. All that is left now are the foundations of the old bath houses with built-in tubs.
I first discovered Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs about 10 years ago and found it to be disgustingly filthy. The grounds, starting with the parking lot were covered in trash including but not limited to; underwear, food packaging, and broken beer bottles. The tubs were lined in a thick slimy black algae and the water was murky. After that experience, I resolved to instead pay a fee to enjoy the beautifully developed and maintained pools at the private retreat center up stream. Three years ago I returned to the abused lower public site to help clean it up. I drove away with a pick-up truck full of trash and my friends filled the trunks of their cars with even more.
Since then my friends, family, and I try to clean the site every few months as our schedules allow. We have noticed that there is less trash and abuse each time we visit and have even found evidence of others cleaning up. We arrive early in the morning and the kids pick up trash while the adults bail water from the tubs and scrub them down. Once the tubs are cleaned and rinsed, we begin refilling them with the hoses and plastic tubing left at the site. There are two small tubs lined in ceramic tiles that we clean and refill first to reward the kids with an early soak for picking up the sometimes nasty trash. The water emerges from the spring at more than 120 degrees so we add cold water from the adjacent Breitenbush River. Once the large tubs have a foot of tepid water in them, we all enjoy a long glorious soak as the pool fills up with hot mineral water.
If you visit, please do your part to leave it a better place than you found it. I believe if more people with a conscientious outdoor ethic enjoy this natural wonder and set a good example, that those who would otherwise abuse the site will either change their behavior or stop using it.
While in the parking area, the half mile trail to the lower hot springs will be on your left parallel to the road you drove in on. It is a well trodden but rugged path, and can be very muddy this time of year with several small streams to cross. Once you reach the river, follow it upstream to the right until you reach the hot springs. This is not considered a clothing optional site as many of its visitors are families, Russian Americans of conservative faith, and there is a public campground directly across the river.
Eric Gjonnes is a long-distance hiker, snowshoer, and mountaineer who lives in Salem. He shares area trails with readers twice a month. He hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail (2,652 miles) and Appalachian Trail (2,1,84 miles) with his 12-year-old daughter. Read more about his adventures at /sunshine2012at.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Stevens Pass Closures

Note: In order to be able to park and be able to hike into Scenic Hot Springs you have to be able to drive to the base of the pass on the west side (around MP 58 - 59).  These current pass closures affect westbound traffic over the pass (Leavenworth, Wenatchee, etc. guests).  Since the pass is presently only accessible from the west side, the only other option is Hwy 97 (Blewett Pass, which is often worse) to I-90 (Snoqualimie Pass) and then back eastbound on Hwy 2 (a very long trip).

It is not uncommon for the pass to also be closed eastbound later in the winter and those closures are generally made around MP 55 (Old Cascade Hwy) - 59 (BNSF Cascade Tunnel) before the steep drive to the pass.  If the eastbound closure is at MP 59 you should be able to reach the suggested winter parking area and hike in from there.

If you have reservations in good faith for a visit to Scenic Hot Springs, and are unable to make it because of Hwy 2 Pass closures, we will do our best to reschedule you at a later date. Rick

US 2 closed from Stevens Pass to Leavenworth until conditions improve

US 2 closed from Stevens Pass to Leavenworth until conditions improve
Credit: KING / Courtesy Chelan County PUD

by KING 5 News
Posted on December 23, 2012 at 9:19 AM
Updated today at 12:42 PM
The Washington State Department of Transportation has closed US 2 west of Leavenworth due to concerns over trees that have been falling in the roadway.
The DOT says they haven't seen such poor conditions in 30 years.
“This series of storms has been remarkable,” said Dan Sarles, WSDOT regional administrator for the North Central Region. “The snow is unusually heavy and wet, snapping and uprooting trees at a rate we haven’t seen in decades.”
A tree fell onto a vehicle near Rayrock Springs, 15 miles east of Stevens Pass Friday, closing the road for 2-1/2 hours. Saturday, a mile further west, a vehicle hit a tree on the highway, injuring four people in the car. The accident closed closed the highway at 6:25 p.m. It's not clear when the road will re-open.
Mount Baker Highway was closed twice in the last several days due to multiple downed trees. On Friday, a Bothell couple died after their car crashed into a fallen tree on U.S. 2.
A video posted on YouTube show trees collapsing onto power lines and the highway below. About 2,000 people who live in the area are without power and are essentially trapped in their homes.
Skiers can still get to the pass from the west side. Drivers cannot get to the pass from the east side. The pass is not open to through traffic for east or westbound drivers.
Check the latest traffic conditions anytime with the Seattle Traffic App and weather with the Seattle Weather App.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snowshoes are a must!

There is a lot of new snow on the way up to the hot springs.  Snowshoes are a must and mandatory for all members of the party before permission will be granted to visit.

To give you an idea of snow conditions, it took one of the stewards 3 1/2 hours to break trail through several feet of snow yesterday.  Please don't ask unless you are prepared for conditions and explicitly let us know you have snowhoes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Miracle Hot Springs

Interesting article on Miracle Hot Springs that also gives insight on the origin of hot springs in the Cascades.
Original URL:

Miracle Hot Springs has four outdoor pools
(Times-News file photo)

The original spring for Hagerman’s Miracle Hot Springs emerged close to the bank of Salmon Falls Creek. In the 1930s, the owners dug a deep hole wide enough to drop two old car bodies in to cap the spring. A well was drilled through the car tops to install pipe. The original homesteaders built chicken coops, sheep dip vat to kill ticks, and the best-tasting watermelons were grown around the springs.
In 1957, Dean Olsen bought the land and built the first six baths and a small home adjoining them, opening for business in 1960. In the early 1960s, he expanded by building the big outside pools followed shortly with nine private baths.
Miracle Hot Springs continuous flow of natural hot spring water is soft to the touch and odorless with a sensational alkaline pH of 9.6 allowing swimmers to rejuvenate.
Miracle Hot Springs’ remodel has been complete nearly a year now with 15 private hot pools, six VIP pools, and four outdoor public pools open year-round, including holidays.
“Miracle Hot Springs is fed by thermal groundwater in volcanic rocks,” said Shawn Willsey, College of Southern Idaho Professor of Geology. “The source of the water is likely to the south in the higher terrain of Brown’s Bench along the Idaho-Nevada border.”
Nat-Soo-Pah, located in Hollister, comes from a Shoshone word that roughly translates as “magic mineral water.” In the late 1890s, native Shoshone used the hot springs as a wintering area. The Shoshone lived in the nearby foothills and used this spring for baths before homesteaders built bath houses.
According to the Hollister Herald in June 1911, Goat Springs has for a long time served as the bathing resort for citizens of Hollister.
Sometime between 1926 and 1930, the Hot Wells Development Company was formed to develop a natatorium and camping resort.
The artesian spring comes through a layer of iron pyrite “fools gold,” which gives the water in the swimming pool a greenish color. Mineral content includes iron, aluminum, sodium chloride, magnesium, bicarbonate calcium, bicarbonate sodium and sulphate.
“The thermal water comes from rain and snow that falls in the South Hills and moves into the subsurface passing through fractures in the volcanic rocks and ultimately into the 280 million-year-old marine sedimentary rocks below,” Willsey said.
“Here the water moves along fractures, bedding planes, and perhaps small cave systems, dissolving some of the calcium and other elements from the rocks and ultimately discharging as hot, mineralized water at Nat-Soo-Pah. Studies done in this area estimate that the water takes as long as 5,000 years to move through the aquifer in the subsurface. Nat-Soo-Pah appears to lie along a fault zone, which likely contributes to the movement of groundwater in this area.”
Both Miracle Hot Springs and Nat-Soo-Pah are naturally heated by thermal water bubbling up from the high-desert terrain. The water’s temperature ranges from 99 F to 106 F.
“Ultimately, all hot springs in the area owe their existence to the regional volcanic activity of the Snake River Plain during the past 10 million years,” Willsey said. While there is no evidence that magma still exists beneath the Magic Valley, rocks at shallow depths still retain residual heat from the volcanism and therefore are able to heat up groundwater. The heated groundwater is less dense and rises to the surface. Faults, fractures, and other pathways allow the heated water to make it to the surface more quickly..
According to, Idaho has the most usable hot springs in the nation with about 130 soakable out of 340. Ninety percent of Idaho’s 340 hot springs are the result of leftover energy heating water near fault lines. This energy is essentially leftover from a 17-million-year-old meteorite collision, which occurred in southeast Oregon. The other 10 percent of Idaho’s hot springs are from water being heated by active volcanoes, typically at or around fault lines.
The impact of the meteorite was so deep it remains stationary while the North American tectonic plate shifts above it. As the plate slowly moves, the hot spot periodically erupts volcanic lava — leaving a traceable path of volcanic activity behind. This path of volcanic activity is not only responsible for Yellowstone National Park, but for almost all of the hot springs activity in Idaho.

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Sunday, December 09, 2012

Scenic Hot Springs Conditions

One of our volunteers was up there yesterday and reports "a ton of snow up there!"  Much more is expected today and snowshoes are definitely needed to deal with the snow.  Fortunately, a trail has been packed down . . . unfortunately, with continued snow falling that trail will soon be filled in.  Winter conditions, folks.

As of 3pm yesterday (Saturday) there was a four foot snow berm across the entrance to FS850.  Therefore, parking before the gate will not be possible and the alternative parking area will have to be used.

The pools are running good and toasty (if uninvited visitors would quit disconnecting the feeds).  Mike (the owner) has supplied us with an additional trail camera which we will place near the trail coming up.

For an idea of the road conditions I took a video while driving back down from the pass.  Mind, the plows had done a pretty good job of clearing the highway.  It does give you an idea of the amount of snow that has fallen just at the 2,400 ft level (remember, the springs are at 3,520 ft and two miles onto the mountainside.)  The video starts at just west of the springs access road down just past the Deception Creek rest area.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Pool Conditions and Snow

Lobster Pot (the normally hotter pool) is running cooler than normal due the the series of rain events that have been sweeping across the area.  This is fairly normal at this time of year as all that surface ground water mixes with Lobster Pot's shallow sources and dilutes them.  When we get freezing weather those surface waters will lock up and Lobster Pot will return to it's normal 'hot' temperatures.  Bear Den, by contrast, is minimally affected by ground water and remains nice and warm.

There is icing on the upper parts of the trail.  Traction devices are highly recommended (trax, cleats, crampons).  Snow is minimal just yet but snow levels are dropping with a good snow dump predicted for this weekend.  Though snowshoes may not be needed right now, it is always a good idea to carry a pair along to deal with a sudden drop of deep snow.  If you just need to rent a pair there is a snowshoe shop right on Highway 2 in Goldbar that we recommend.  Be safe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Snow Advisory & Conditions

As of today (November 18th) there is 3-4 inches of snow on the trail to the hot springs.  There are a series of active storm fronts due to move through the area in the next two weeks with predicted snow levels floating between 3,000 and 5,000 feet (check the advisories in the calendar to the right).  Because of the terrain near Scenic we always drop predicted snow levels another 500 ft so we expect that Scenic will get it's fair share of snow in the next few days.

Presently, the snow on the trail is 'big flake' and slippery. Temperatures overnight were hovering right around 31 F. Traction devices are definitely a good idea to deal with the slippery sections of the upper trail (Trax, cleats, crampons, deep-tread boots).  As of right now, snowshoes are not needed as we only have a few inches above wet ground that has not frozen yet.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Season's First Snow is Here

2-4" forecast for this weekend so be prepared for cold weather.  Snowshoes are not needed just yet.  Warm, water-repellent clothing is needed.

Some good advice from Matt:

We could have anywhere from no snow at all to 3-5 feet of snow [in the next month]. It's just very hard to say at this time. I have seen both (no snow and lots of snow) types of weather at that time of year. Most likely, their will be some snow though. We keep very up to date current weather conditions as they change posted on our website.
The hike in is 2 miles all uphill with almost 1100 feet of elevation gain. In the event of snow, the hike is a half mile longer and we do recommend some sort of extra winter traction. Such as snowshoes, yaktrax, or instep crampons. However, our trail crosses no avalanche chutes, or glaciers. I would rate our winter trail as beginner to intermediate and consider it very safe to hike/snowshoe.

Some advice from Rick:

Expect the worst . . . weather changes on a dime in the Cascades (especially at the elevation of the springs (3,520ft) and with the weather patterns funneling through Stevens Pass nearby.
Tell someone where you are going, when, and what time you are expected back.  Then make that phone call to let them know you are okay.
Have multiple ways of starting a fire in case that becomes necessary in a survival situation.  Please note that Scenic is within a fire-restricted area and that fires should only be resorted to in a survival situation.
Pack three days of something to eat (calorie-wise, dark chocolate is full of carbohydrates and slower burning fats to keep your core body temperature up.  Dehydration is not only a problem in hot weather . . . in cold weather we also dehydrate at a fast rate as we breathe our moisture out with every breath.  Colder air is also dry air as it can no longer hold the water vapor in the air (think rain and snow falling out of that air).  That dryer air is going to draw moisture away from your skin further adding to the problem of dehydration.  And then, of course, we are going to immerse ourselves in hot spring waters and sweat a lot more water out of our bodies.  Carry and drink plenty of water.  It is not a bad idea to carry a small electrolyte-replacement packet to deal with symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration.
Dress in layers so that you can remove or add clothing as the outside temperature changes.  The hike can be rigorous, causing you to sweat and dampening your clothing.  The outermost layer should be a water-repellent coat  Wet clothing can quickly lead to hypothermia.  Wear a wicking underlayer to pull moisture away from your skin.  Avoid cotton at all costs because when cotton gets damp or wet it saps body heat rapidly. The single most important item is a hat as we can lose up to 50% of our body heat through the head.  Don't forget gloves.  Wear appropriate footwear . . . sneakers do not hack it in the cold, wet months of fall and winter.
Pack a large 33-45 gal plastic trash bag with you.  While you soak your pack, clothes, and boots can be stuffed inside and kept dry from the elements. Leaving, that same trash bag can be used to help remove litter from the site or, in a pinch, can be used as an impromptu poncho by poking three holes through the bottom and pulling it over your arms and head.
Get out of the hot spring pools in stages, drying the upper body and donning a top, then rising higher to dry the lower body and then finish dressing.
Carry a flashlight or headlamp.  The days are getting shorter and you do not want to be caught on the mountainside halfway back down and suddenly in darkness. 
Carry that cell phone and keep it's battery warm.  It's not a bad idea to keep a cell phone in a water-proof zip-lock baggie when you're around so much water.   Cell phones often work on the trail and up at the springs. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

What if Scenic Hot Springs was like this?

A comment posted today to the Hunt and Kosh Hot Springs entry on my Clothing Optional map here:

"I just went here for the first time, directions are great, the road is now paved to bridge. I found the newly made soaking pool with a nice little deck and bench nearby, as I arrived a small group was leaving so it was perfect timing, but as soon as I got comfy in the pool, which was a perfect temp around 105, a group of locals showed up and were checking out the place then a couple came down from the hill coming from other spring and then the super tweaked out locals started yelling at them saying they "don't belong here" and get the F out of here, at the same time 3 guys showed up and were also yelled and screamed at same way, the couple leaving just ignored it all and continued on their way out, the 3 guys contemplated for a minute but the yelling and screaming continued until they left, so my friend and I who had been soaking the entire time were really weirded out and confused of what was going on, then the ignorant tweaked out locals came up pool we were soaking an d and started yelling and screaming at us and then threatening us, as we quietly and peacefully ignored their most ignorant comment sand threats continued as we walked on out of their. They continued on and on how those were sacred waters and we dont belong in them or anywhere near there because we were not from there. I have lived in nor cal my entire life and have been all over the world and I have never ran into such backwoods, inbred, ignorant idiots anywhere like these tweaked out locals! I definitely would not recommend this place unless you are ready for a confrontation."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Clean Up Party Update

Looks like we will have a good turn-out for this clean up event so Matt and myself are going to pack in the grill and feed ya.  Burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, salad (any other ideas?).  If you haven't signed up for this event, time a'wasting.  Remember, only those who have RSVP'd will be allowed on the property . . . no late-joiners looking for a free soak.

Want to camp overnight, help us set up the event . . . get in a great soak under the stars or simply learn how to make smores?  One or both of us will be at Scenic the Friday night before.  Let us know via email to:

  • Reline the pools
  • Make the trail between pools and the old latrine safer
  • Haul unusable debris from the area above the springs to a staging area lower on the trail
  • Prep trail for the coming winter and spring runoff
  • Clear powerline culverts where necessary
  • A picnic table?
  • Shovels, adzes
  • Work Gloves (I have some but I'm running out)
  • Something to share on the grill or snacking-wise
When and Where:

October 6th, 2012 (a Saturday).  We meet at the gate at 10am to be escorted to park in the clearcut.

Those who want to come up the night before make arrangements with us to get in.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trespassers n Con Artists

The other day while checking up on Scenic I got taken into believing a sob story of an otherwise nice couple who, when challenged, said that they had emailed earlier in the morning and when they didn't hear back decided to head on in . . . assuming it would be okay.

Well, okay . . . they knew my name . . . they knew my email nickname.  Sounded plausible so I believed that they did in fact ask for permission and not hearing anything back, decided to take a chance that it would be alright.

First of all, it wasn't alright because they intruded on other visitors who did have permission.  But they were apologetic and contrite so I gave them the benefit of the doubt . . . and with the concurrence  of the other soakers with permission in the pool, decided to let them stay.

Needless to say, checking both my email and the Scenic email later found nothing of this couple requesting permission.  I even let it ride an extra day in case their request showed up late.  Nothing.  Nada.

So here's how we are going to handle situations like this from now on:
  • You are going to be challenged,
  • If you are not in the list for that day you will be asked for the permission email,
  • If you cannot produce the permission email we sent you, you will be told to leave right away,
  • If you do not leave we will call for assistance from law enforcement.

We take pictures of every car parked before the forest service gate as well as vehicles parked in other locations typically used by trespassers.  We keep a rogue's galley of probable trespassers for later reference, if need be.

Since the property is legally-posted private property we do not need to confront trespassers and ask them to leave . . . we can simply confirm for ourselves they are (or were) on the property without permission and call for the sheriff without having to confront and ask to leave.  Trespassers . . . you just may find the cops waiting for you down at the bottom when you get back!

There will be no more "on your honor" visits and there will be no more listening to sob stories and con games.  If we cannot connect you to the list of permitted visitors, you must leave right away or face prosecution.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Scenic Clean Up Event Oct 6th, 2012

Update:  A volunteer has made a generous offer to carpool volunteers:

I am happy to take 3-5 people (in addition to me) in my car (3 would be in  a sedan, 5 would be in a Suburban) to the springs on Oct 6.  I live in Sammamish, but could meet a 8 AM that day in any convenient place (Bellevue Park and Ride?).

If you are interested in carpooling, send an email to us and we will attempt to get people together.  Rick


There will be a Scenic clean up party on Saturday, October 6th, 2012 starting at 10am.

The pools will be emptied and relined during this maintenance event.  There are several other projects going on, including some culvert clearing and trash removal.  During this clean-up event only those involved in the work party will be authorized on the hot springs property.  Casual visitors will be turned away . . . and no requests for access will be approved until the maintenance is completed.

This clean-up party is a chance to thank those people who have, in the past several months, requested permission and been approved in advance of their visit.  It is a chance to get together help out the springs and, enjoy a rare opportunity for some night soaking, a picnic, and potentially supervised camping overnight while the clean-up is ongoing.

Those invited will enjoy the springs on us (once the new liners are in place).  If you have been invited to participate (and want to), please RSVP   If I forgot to invite anyone please let me know soon as we need a head count for the food.

As always, Scenic is clothing-optional and I will certainly be working on my tan lines if the weather holds.  Changing liners is a wet and messy job . . . there is simply not other way.  So feel free to be as comfortable as you want.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Bench for the Soakers

This past Saturday's clean up party went very well with five volunteers responding to enjoy the fresh air, great views and sun on the slopes of Scenic Hot Springs.

Vandals had done a great deal of damage earlier in the week, and while the rest went up to the main springs with ideas on what we might accomplish, I set to work removing the destroyed Honor Box down near the trailhead. 

Vandals attempting to break into the Honor Box

Though they destroyed the Honor Box beyond repair (this is the second time they have done so), all they succeeded in doing is to force the door inward.  If there had been anything of value in the box (there wasn't because it had been checked hours before this happened), there would have been no way of getting at them . . . the door was thoroughly wedged in.  The main reason I needed to get in (besides removing it) was because I'd stored a box of deck screws in there for future maintenance up at Scenic . . . such as today.  With the keys to retract the undamaged bolts and a little bit of sweat I managed to open the door the proper way and get at my supplies.  I removed the honor box to take off site later.  It will be replaced.

These same vandals also managed to go to great efforts to steal the two new trail cams to hide their activities.  This crime has been reported to King County with an active case number.

A Bench for sitting and holding belongings
Up at the main springs, the clean-up participants were already going through and seeing what kind of materials were available.  I'd already mentioned that a bench for visitors to sit upon or store their belongings off the ground would be a nice amenity.  The problem with any work party up at Scenic is that there is a fine line between maintaining the status of the hot springs versus "improving" the hot springs.  Improving and expanding the construction up at Scenic is what got it into trouble back in 2001 . . . and the closure.  Matt and myself had already decided that a simple bench was no more than maintaining the status of the springs . . . preventing it from going into disrepair.  It was a minor amenity that did not increase the footprint of the existing construction.  On that basis, we decided to go ahead.

Of course, doing anything in the wilderness is an exercise in planning and patience.  I'd man-carried a simple pull saw, a hammer, a tape measure, my cordless driver and the retrieved deck screws.  That was all we had to work with.  We had to bolster the support of the railing and somehow keep everything on the level.  The tape measure got a lot of use . . . as well as the old adage about measuring twice and cutting once.  We had to think the progress of the bench out.  The leaders . . . those who had some idea of what they were doing . . . soon stepped to the forefront (lol, not me . . . I just let them know what I wanted and then welded the hammer where I was told to strike).

Originally, I had envisioned some sort of roof or cap over the bench in order to provide some cover and protection from rain and snow during the wetter months.  That is the reason for the two uprights that you see in the image.  However, we are rethinking that one in relation to wind and snow loads on the structure.  They are there as a basis should we decide to continue in the future.  In the end it took us almost six hours to put together the finished bench.  Then it was time to actually enjoy using it and soaking in the hot springs.

A tempering feed has been added
During the last work party we carted hundreds of pounds of sand up the mountainside to repair the damage someone had done to the Bear Den spring sources.  The result of those repairs was that Bear Den now runs a couple of degrees hotter than it normally does.  And a consequence of hotter pool temperatures is that it is not as enjoyable in the hot summer months as it traditionally would have been.  

A week earlier I had tapped into a small, tepid spring to bring some cooling water down.  The result is that Bear Den is actually very nice, even on a hot summer day.  Lobster, of course, remains scalding hot and I would never change that as many actually like the experience . . . and the cooling off (somewhat) in Bear Den later.

The tempering feed is not very vigorous and I've set the tubing to allow use or not . .  placing the outlet on the center board when not in use.  This feed is the runoff that we have always seen running down the slope above the springs . . . which was also a result of someone playing with the spring sources without authorization or permission..  Now, instead of eroding the slope above, it is controlled and of use in dropping the temperature of the pool just enough.

The final touches of this clean-up party was removal of some of the Styrofoam and wire netting debris from the upper area to the lower staging area for later disposal.  Thank you to each of the participants and you will get credit toward future passes.

Yours truly enjoyed the whole day clothes-free.  One other did join in hiking back down from the springs au' natural . . . but there is a lesson in this.  When you take off your clothes to take a one-way nude hike . . . please remember where you placed your clothes . . . or at least bring them with you!  He had to hike all the way back up to the springs once he realized he had left them behind.  And that was a chuckle for the rest of us.  Don't worry, I won't reveal who suffered this faux pas . . . your identity is safe with me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Flowers of Scenic - Pinedrops

Photo by Kelly

Our distinguished horticulturists (i.e., Matt, not me) say that this asparagus-looking plant seen growing on the Scenic property is  called 'Pinedrops'.  It's Latin botanical name is 'Pterospora Andromeda'. In a few weeks it will grow some very odd looking flowers that resemble drops of sap. It is also the largest saprophyte (i'e., lacking chlorophyll to produce their own food and instead obtaining nutrients from dead organic matter) of the 3 different varieties that grow in Washington.  The production of flowers differentiates saprophytes from true fungi.

Speaking of true fungi, anyone want to identify this species which is sometimes found on the Scenic property in un-traversed areas away from the trails?

Also found on site during the summer months are edible wild strawberries, trailing blackberries, salmonberries, wild blueberries, and near the upper reaches of Scenic Creek, huckleberries.

Wild Huckleberry
Wild Strawberry
trailing blackberry fruit
Wild Blackberry
Wild Blueberries

Monday, July 23, 2012

Clean Up Party this Coming Saturday

This coming Saturday we will be getting together on site to do some clean up of the area.  In mind:
  • Removal of debris from the upper area to lower down on the trail
We will also be looking at providing a few small amenities for visitors . . . depending on the skill-levels of participants and the materials we can use on-site.  Some ideas that have been floated:
  • A bench or sitting area near the pools, possibly a picnic table
  • Better method of hanging and protecting personal stuff while soaking
  • Putting together an Information/Welcome sign-board at the base of the trail and perhaps an attractive rockery/flower bed around that sign
These ideas require some skills with a hammer and saw and we would appreciate all we can get in that regard.  There is plenty of lumber on-site that we can use.

Dependent on the conditions of the pool liners and the time we have available, we may also do a relining of the pools . . . which is a time-intensive and expensive job.

If you feel like helping out, getting credit toward an annual pass to Scenic, and just want to enjoy a soak afterward amongst great people, RSVP to letting us know that you're coming and willing to help.  We plan on opening the gate at 9am so that volunteers can park a little closer.  As always, if the weather cooperates, Scenic clean up events are clothing-optional.  Work on your tan lines.

A Flurry of Last Minute Requests

We've noticed an increase in last minute requests to visit Scenic without obviously going through the steps that we ask of visitors . . . primarily that you do read the Conditions of Access PRIOR TO ASKING.  Most of these requests are simply "I want to go up there this afternoon.  Give me a call," type requests.  We are seldom going to approve these requests if you don't make the effort to at least read the "rules" before asking.

In a like vein, some of these requests are an attempt to make it seem as if they have permission . . . "I did ask, after all", never mind that we didn't approve.    We put people making tentative requests on the calendar so that everyone can see how that date is stacking up.  Those in the asking stages yet not approved have "planning" appended to their name.  They have not yet finished the steps required for access.  They do not yet have permission to visit Scenic Hot Springs.

Perhaps they are hoping that no one will notice but we are serious about flippant trespassing.  Last week we had three trespassers meet with local authorities after they were escorted out of Scenic.  Don't let yourself be part of the problem.  If you do not have an email from us stating that you have complied with the Conditions of Access and have permission to be on the property, then you are trespassing.

The Conditions of Access are located here.  Read them first before calling or emailing us for permission.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Lost & Found: Tactical Folding Knife

Found on the Scenic property recently;  a very nice CRKT Folding Tactical Knife.  There is one thing about the functionality of this fine blade that is unusual and, if you can tell me what it is and the date you think you lost it, then it is yours.  I know how attached we can get to a good blade that does so much in the wilderness.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Lobster Pot is now hotter than Bear Den

Lobster:          108F in the pool
                        111F at the inlet

Bear Den:         106F in the pool
                           109.5 at the inlet
(temperatures as of July 6)

 . . . so Lobster is almost completely recovered from the annual snowmelt and we can increase the daily maximum users to normal.

The feed to Bear Den has also been repaired and back to normal.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Hot Springs Vandalized Once Again

You know . . . whenever I post onto the blog I'm always hoping to be posting positive things, like good trip reports, some thoughtful action by a visitor, good things about the hot springs, themselves.  But it seems that we have problems with late night visitors and trespassers once again.

Sometime Saturday night, the feeds and piping feeding the Bear Den pool were damaged.  The main piping leading into the pool was removed and seemingly has disappeared (probably tossed down the slope just out of sight).  The result was that Bear Den was not getting any water and that the water from the damaged end of the feed was running downhill and eroding the slope.

A temporary jerry-rig has been set up so that erosion is controlled and the feeds once more go into the pool . . . thanks to Joe for taking initiative and letting us know what was going on.  One of us is going to have to take a day off from work tomorrow to go up there, assess the damage, and figure out how to repair the piping.

We spoke to a permitted visitor from Saturday and he informed us that when they were coming down just before sunset, they ran into a group of seven headed on up.  So here's the problem . . .  if we'd known probable trespassers were headed up to the springs at that time of day, we probably would have headed that way ourselves and kicked them out before any damage was done.

Sooooo . . . a request of those who have been given permission to visit the hot springs.  If you see a group heading in like this (particularly if it is large and obviously too late to be a day visit), give Matt or myself a call.  Don't confront anyone . . . educate if you can.  Note the vehicles parked at the gate . . . get pictures (with license plates) if you can.  And then call us so that we can do something about it.  When we get lucky we can sometimes catch their faces on the one remaining trail cam to identify them . . . but that is always after-the-fact.  We need your help.  These trespassers only hurt the situation for the rest of us, and may end up getting the hot springs closed.

The following threat is probably going to fall on deaf ears because I doubt the vandals and trespassers bother to read this blog.  But here goes anyway:

Scenic is private property and we have the legal right to defend and protect that property.  If either Matt or myself have to respond to trespassers on the property we will not bother to hike up to the springs to ask you to leave anymore.  We will simply call law enforcement as soon as you are spotted on the property and have you arrested for First Degree Criminal Trespass (RCW 9A.52.070) at the most inopportune time (the last time deputies were just aching to head on up to the springs and 'bust some heads') or we will wait for you come back down.  Either way, you are going to be arrested.  Scenic is posted No Trespassing, Private Property . . . there are six separate signs so stating that.  You cannot miss those signs and tearing them off the trees to pretend ignorance is not a defense.  Knowingly entering posted private property and remaining on that property makes it First Degree Criminal Trespass . . . up to 90 days in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.
By the way, the BPA maintenance roads are NOT  public right of ways.  The BPA (and no one else) has a granted easement through the property but it still remains private, posted property to anyone else except permitted individuals.
Anyone caught tampering, modifying and/or damaging the tangible property on Scenic Hot Springs will also have felony charges pressed under RCW 4.24.630, Damage to Land and Property.  We will press those charges on anyone found on the property without permission and/or vandalizing Scenic.  No more warnings . . . you've had enough opportunity to be responsible adults.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scenic Conditions and an Update

The repairs to the Bear Den sources are holding and the temperatures in the pools (as of Saturday, June 24th are:

Bear Den:
                   as it is coming into the pool . . . 109.2F
                    in the pool on the far side . . . .  103.7F

Lobster is running a comfortable 93F, well on it's way to recovery from the annual snowmelt.

Trash continues to be a problem, with visitors (the trespassers, I'm sure) just throwing their beer bottles and cans over the side or on the trail.

Trespassing also continues to be a problem but we are spending more unannounced time up at Scenic intercepting people and turning them around (Saturday we kicked out a number of trespassers who would have barged in on those who had the decency to ask first).

Weather in the mountains can turn on a dime.  Saturday we had that awful storm suddenly rear up out of sunny skies with gale-force winds, hail, thunder and lightening, a sudden drop in air temperature of 30F, and a torrential downpour.  In the midst of that miserable weather, here come six teenagers wearing cotton summer shorts and tops . . . drenched and soaked to the bone.  I'm sure they hoped to be able to warm up in the hot springs except they weren't exactly sure where the springs were and I intercepted them and sent them back the way they came.  I could have been nice and given them a pass but they got all mouthy.  C'est la vie.  Maybe next time they'll accept this is private property and ask ahead of time.  I hope so.  Matt had a good heart to heart talk with them further down the mountain in the hopes of establishing some trust and a future visit.

At the base of the trail where we were doing some repair work we met a returning party of visitors with permission.  They informed us that there were three more people up at the springs that had come up by some back route and had been leery that they had been discovered and were in trouble.  When we went up to the springs to investigate, they were trying to sneak back out and became very obnoxious about not only trespassing, but about being devious in sneaking in and in parking their car up a side road to bushwhack in via an obscure and risky back route.  Since they didn't seem to care at all about their intruding on those who had permission, they are persona non grata and will not be permitted any further access to Scenic.

This Upcoming Summer and the very real Fire Risk

No Fireworks sign posted at the request of the Forest Service

Since Scenic Hot Springs is a private inholding surrounded on all four sides by National Forest (one of those sides a wilderness area) the Forest Service has a huge stake in assuring that we do not experience wild fires that can devastate these pristine alpine forests.  There is going to be special emphasis on ranger patrols looking for the illegal setting off and use of fireworks over the summer within the Snoqualmie-Mt Baker National Forest (within which we are situated).  We are fully cooperating with the Law Enforcement Rangers of the National Forest by facilitating access to Scenic Hot Springs to deal with any transgressors.  Fireworks have never been tolerated on the Scenic Hot Spring property and if we catch anyone setting of fireworks within our property (or the adjacent National Forest property) we will not simply slap your hand . . . we will invite law enforcement to pursue charges.

A spent Bottle Rocket found in the clearcut just off the Scenic
property.  It was sitting on some very dry tinder and could have
easily started a fire that would have been difficult to reach and
get under control.
Last Note . . .

Give us time to process a request to visit.  We understand that a trip to the springs may be a last moment idea on a nice weekend, but we need to balance requests with a reasonable load on the springs.  Right now, Lobster is still not up to speed, so we limit the number of visitors per day to six (to help keep the crowding down and the waters clean.

Note the Conditions of Access in the sidebar.  Do not ask to come up at night.  Night time soaking is not permitted for a lot of reasons, and we will say "no".

Don't use the Call Me button to ask for permission . . . send an email as requested.  Use the Call Me button to ask general questions.

Finally, thank you to all the great people we have met up there that really love the hot springs and are respectful, leaving the place better than when they arrived.   You are great and we really feel good when someone says they had a great time soaking.