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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.

1 comment:

  1. Yes that was me, and thank you Rick for waiting as we all were parked above the gate! It was a wonderful time at the work party! You are are such a Kind Great Soul I really didn't want to delay you from getting back to your wife that night! It bugged me as I recall I took my clothes out of my bag but switched to hiking naked down the hill! It was very nice to not sweat & be cool but payed the price of changing plans and being naked once leaving won't quite work out with everyone else when we left!

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