Weather

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Weather Advisory Tues thru Wed

The National Weather service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Cascades from 2pm Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 through 10am Wednesday, February 1st, 2012:

Winter Weather Advisory
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
912 PM PST MON JAN 30 2012 
...ADDITIONAL SNOW EXPECTED ACROSS THE CASCADES LATE TUESDAY... 
.A FAST MOVING WEATHER SYSTEM WILL SPREAD SNOW ACROSS THE CASCADES TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND CONTINUE THROUGH MOST OF THE NIGHT. SNOW LEVELS WILL GENERALLY RANGE FROM 2500 TO 3500 FEET THROUGH THE EVENT WITH THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF SNOW EXPECTED ACROSS THE NORTH CASCADES. 
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM TUESDAY TO 10 AM PST WEDNESDAY...
For those with reservations at Scenic on Tuesday and Wednesday, please be prepared to winter weather conditions and sudden, severe weather changes.  Winds through the Stevens Pass area could result in heavy, driving snow and whiteout conditions on the trail.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hot Spring Temperatures are Back to Normal

A little bit of freezing weather and snow and the Lobster Feeds are back to their toasty 110F temperatures.


Still a lot of new snow in the mountains (with more due tonight and Saturday).  Snowshoes are highly advised.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Snow is coming .... UPDATED AGAIN :-)

UPDATE to the UPDATE!!!!  :-)
Well, we're getting the snow and it looks like we are going to get a whole lot more over Tuesday and Wednesday.  So far the passes have remained open but with the amount of snow they are forecasting with the Winter Weather Warning & Watch . . . followed by heavy rain and/or warming conditions by Thursday, there is a chance avalanche conditions in the area could materialize.  If so, we may have to shut down access to Scenic Hot Springs for a few days as a precautionary measure.  any announcement will be made here (and directly to those who have reservations via email or phone.)  One thing about all this cold, wintery weather . . . the hot springs should come right back up to toasty conditions.  The full alert is here.
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
235 PM PST MON JAN 16 2012
...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM PST
TUESDAY...
...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM LATE TUESDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY EVENING...
* SOME AFFECTED LOCATIONS...MOUNT BAKER...CONCRETE...
  DARRINGTON... INDEX...STEVENS PASS...PARADISE...AND MORTON.
* TIMING...TODAY THROUGH TUESDAY.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...ONE TO TWO FEET OF NEW SNOW BY LATE  TUESDAY. ADDITIONAL SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATIONS OF A COUPLE OF  FEET ARE POSSIBLE ON WEDNESDAY.
* IMPACT...EXTREME WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS DUE TO COMPACT SNOW   AND ICE.


UPDATE:  On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory effective 10 Friday night through 10pm Saturday for the Western Slopes of the Cascades:
...HEAVY SNOW IS POSSIBLE ON THE WESTERN SLOPES OF THE OLYMPICS AND CENTRAL AND NORTHERN WASHINGTON CASCADES TONIGHT AND SATURDAY... .A VIGOROUS FRONTAL SYSTEM WILL PUSH THROUGH WESTERN WASHINGTON EARLY SATURDAY...BRINGING SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL TO THE OLYMPICS AND CASCADES. ...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 PM PST SATURDAY... * SOME AFFECTED LOCATIONS...THE HEAVIEST SNOWFALL AMOUNTS WILL OCCUR ABOVE 3500 FEET. THE MOUNTAIN PASSES AND MOUNT RAINIER PARK WILL SEE SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL. * TIMING...SNOW WILL BEGIN TONIGHT AND CONTINUE SATURDAY MORNING...TAPERING OFF SATURDAY EVENING. * ACCUMULATIONS...ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 11 INCHES ARE EXPECTED.


According to the latest National Weather Service Special Weather Statement dated Wednesday:
A COLD FRONT WILL BRING COLDER TEMPERATURES AND A CHANCE OF LOWLAND SNOW THIS WEEKEND... ...A SERIES OF ACTIVE STORM SYSTEMS NEXT WEEK WILL BRING PERIODS OF WINTER WEATHER TO WESTERN WASHINGTON...
 Significant new snow accumulations and winter weather is expected to impact the Stevens Pass area (and Scenic Hot Springs) starting late Saturday night and well into the following week.  Snow levels will drop as low as 500 feet Saturday night and fluctuate down to sea level by Sunday onward until this series of cold fronts moves out of the area later in the week.

The Special Weather Statement can be read here:  http://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=WAZ519&warncounty=WAC033&firewxzone=WAZ658&local_place1=3+Miles+SW+Stevens+Pass+WA&product1=Special+Weather+Statement

Please take these predicted conditions into account.

What is Happening with the Spring Temperatures ...

The spring sources that feed the two pools at Scenic Hot Springs typically run hot throughout the winter months.  However, in the springtime as the melting snow-pack accelerates, ground-waters mix with the source of the Lobster Pot feed, dropping it's temperature radically and increasing the water flow several times.  Normally this happens much later in the season, however, the recent higher temperatures in the passes have melted a lot of snow into the ground water near the spring sources.

The two main hot spring sources at the main pools are the Lobster Pot feeds (for the normally hotter pool) and the Bear Den feeds (for the other pool).   These two sources are completely different . . . undertaking separate routes from the hot rock 600ft below to the surface.    Lobster Pot emerges shallow in a natural depression  overlain with a thick, subsurface band of decomposed, friable granite.

Decomposed (or altered) Granite.  The grains lose coherence because of
the leaching of feldspar by water.  More resistant minerals remain in a
friable matrix open to easy infiltration by ground water.  The brown color is
due to the release of iron oxide.

This friable granite layer (very visible lower on the trail near Honeymoon Springs) overlays much of the bedrock in the area.  Thousands of years of ground-water flows have leached the softer feldspar out of the granitic bedrock, leaving behind loosely-held quartz . . . a ready-made channel for surface waters to percolate through.

Anyone who has spent some time soaking up at Scenic will probably have noticed the appreciable amount of tiny rock-like granules discharged at the end of the feed tube into the hotter pool (the one fed by the Lobster Pot feeds), while the feeds from Bear Den hardly deposit much more than a small amount of silt to the bottom of the pool.  The Lobster Pot sources are travelling shallowly within decomposed granite and picking up some of those granite grains (the precursors to sand by the time these waters make it to the lowlands) before emerging to the surface.

Looking down the soil bench near the sources for Lobster Pot
(the feed pipe can just be seen in the upper right).  The soil here is
exposed decomposed granite within an ancient watercourse.

The feeds for Bear Den are on the other side of the large boulder
to the left, in a depression of firm bedrock covered by a light layer
of clayish-soil devoid of decomposed granite.
Lobster Pot thus becomes much more susceptible to mixing with ground water that is is channeled into that ancient water course during the annual snow-melt (and at times of heavy rainfall).  Once the melt is over and the upper layers of decomposed granite transition to an unsaturated state, the springs return to their normal temperature levels.

Decomposed (aka Rotten Granite) has almost completely filled
an abandoned pool lower on the property in an area we call
Meadows Springs.  As you may note, the spring waters flow
easily through this material.  These lower spring sources are
off-limits because of the fragile and unsteady nature
of the slopes they are within.

Hopefully, in early-season melts like this, we would expect that winter is not quite over with yet and a cold snap of sufficient duration would re-freeze that shallowly traveling melt and lock it up . . . allowing Lobster Pot to resume it's normal temperatures.  Colder weather is expected later this week . . . hopefully enough to abate this temporary dip in the temperatures of the hotter feed.

Bear Den, in contrast, emerges from bedrock without an overlaying band of porous, decomposed granite.  The Bear Den feeds are much more resistant to changes in feed temperatures and even during the height of the snow-melt will remain constant.

Visitors to the hot springs should keep this in mind when they request permission.  There is no way to predict with any accuracy when rain or melt will affect the temperatures of the springs.  Lobster Pot will run cold while there is an abundance of rain or melt saturation in the ground . . . and recover just as quickly once that source of mixing has dried up.  Bear Den will happily ignore these cycles and just go on pumping out nicely-soak-able hot spring waters . . .   When we identify such situations, we limit the number of reservations allowable each day for the remaining usable pool.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Hot Springs Running Cold

Due to the rising freezing levels over the past few days there has been increasing snowmelt above the sources to Scenic Hot Springs.  As a result, the Lobster feed sources (normally 105-115F) have gone cold (30-40F) earlier than normal in the yearly winter-spring cycle.  The freezing levels are expected to remain high over the next few days (6,000 feet to 4,000 feet) that melting snow will continue to depress springs temperatures.

The other hot spring feed (Bear Den), is much more protected from mixing with ground-waters and thus less affected.  The Bear Den sources are still running at 100F average.  However, this is not enough to maintain a really comfortable soak in the other pool.

Additionally, the snowpack on the trail up is also melting fast, resulting in running water on the trail.

Typically, this annual melt happens much later in the year.  Freezing levels are predicted to come down later in the week . . . which will probably result in the spring temperatures recovering.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Sunrise/Sunset Chart for the Scenic Area

January 2012
Skykomish, Washington
SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
1


Twi A: 6:01am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:54am
Sunset: 4:23pm
Twi: 4:59pm
Twi N: 5:38pm
Twi A: 6:16pm
Moonrise: 11:31am
Moonset: 12:38am
2


Twi A: 6:02am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:54am
Sunset: 4:24pm
Twi: 5:00pm
Twi N: 5:39pm
Twi A: 6:16pm
Moonrise: 11:55am
Moonset: 1:41am
3


Twi A: 6:02am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:54am
Sunset: 4:25pm
Twi: 5:01pm
Twi N: 5:40pm
Twi A: 6:17pm
Moonrise: 12:23pm
Moonset: 2:43am
4


Twi A: 6:02am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:54am
Sunset: 4:26pm
Twi: 5:02pm
Twi N: 5:41pm
Twi A: 6:18pm
Moonrise: 12:56pm
Moonset: 3:45am
5


Twi A: 6:02am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:54am
Sunset: 4:27pm
Twi: 5:03pm
Twi N: 5:42pm
Twi A: 6:19pm
Moonrise: 1:35pm
Moonset: 4:45am
6


Twi A: 6:02am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:54am
Sunset: 4:28pm
Twi: 5:04pm
Twi N: 5:43pm
Twi A: 6:20pm
Moonrise: 2:23pm
Moonset: 5:41am
7


Twi A: 6:02am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:53am
Sunset: 4:29pm
Twi: 5:05pm
Twi N: 5:44pm
Twi A: 6:21pm
Moonrise: 3:19pm
Moonset: 6:31am
Full moon8


Twi A: 6:01am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:18am
Sunrise: 7:53am
Sunset: 4:30pm
Twi: 5:06pm
Twi N: 5:45pm
Twi A: 6:22pm
Moonrise: 4:22pm
Moonset: 7:15am
Full Moon: 11:31pm
9


Twi A: 6:01am
Twi N: 6:39am
Twi: 7:17am
Sunrise: 7:53am
Sunset: 4:31pm
Twi: 5:07pm
Twi N: 5:46pm
Twi A: 6:23pm
Moonrise: 5:31pm
Moonset: 7:53am
10


Twi A: 6:01am
Twi N: 6:38am
Twi: 7:17am
Sunrise: 7:53am
Sunset: 4:33pm
Twi: 5:08pm
Twi N: 5:47pm
Twi A: 6:24pm
Moonrise: 6:43pm
Moonset: 8:25am
11


Twi A: 6:01am
Twi N: 6:38am
Twi: 7:17am
Sunrise: 7:52am
Sunset: 4:34pm
Twi: 5:09pm
Twi N: 5:48pm
Twi A: 6:25pm
Moonrise: 7:56pm
Moonset: 8:53am
12


Twi A: 6:01am
Twi N: 6:38am
Twi: 7:16am
Sunrise: 7:52am
Sunset: 4:35pm
Twi: 5:10pm
Twi N: 5:49pm
Twi A: 6:26pm
Moonrise: 9:10pm
Moonset: 9:19am
13


Twi A: 6:00am
Twi N: 6:37am
Twi: 7:16am
Sunrise: 7:51am
Sunset: 4:36pm
Twi: 5:11pm
Twi N: 5:50pm
Twi A: 6:27pm
Moonrise: 10:25pm
Moonset: 9:44am
14


Twi A: 6:00am
Twi N: 6:37am
Twi: 7:16am
Sunrise: 7:51am
Sunset: 4:38pm
Twi: 5:13pm
Twi N: 5:51pm
Twi A: 6:28pm
Moonrise: 11:40pm
Moonset: 10:08am
15


Twi A: 6:00am
Twi N: 6:37am
Twi: 7:15am
Sunrise: 7:50am
Sunset: 4:39pm
Twi: 5:14pm
Twi N: 5:52pm
Twi A: 6:29pm
Moonrise: none
Moonset: 10:35am
Last quarter moon16


Twi A: 5:59am
Twi N: 6:36am
Twi: 7:15am
Sunrise: 7:49am
Sunset: 4:40pm
Twi: 5:15pm
Twi N: 5:54pm
Twi A: 6:31pm
Moonrise: 12:56am
Moonset: 11:06am
Last Qtr: 1:09am
17


Twi A: 5:59am
Twi N: 6:36am
Twi: 7:14am
Sunrise: 7:49am
Sunset: 4:42pm
Twi: 5:16pm
Twi N: 5:55pm
Twi A: 6:32pm
Moonrise: 2:12am
Moonset: 11:42am
18


Twi A: 5:58am
Twi N: 6:35am
Twi: 7:13am
Sunrise: 7:48am
Sunset: 4:43pm
Twi: 5:18pm
Twi N: 5:56pm
Twi A: 6:33pm
Moonrise: 3:26am
Moonset: 12:25pm
19


Twi A: 5:58am
Twi N: 6:34am
Twi: 7:13am
Sunrise: 7:47am
Sunset: 4:45pm
Twi: 5:19pm
Twi N: 5:57pm
Twi A: 6:34pm
Moonrise: 4:34am
Moonset: 1:18pm
20


Twi A: 5:57am
Twi N: 6:34am
Twi: 7:12am
Sunrise: 7:46am
Sunset: 4:46pm
Twi: 5:20pm
Twi N: 5:58pm
Twi A: 6:35pm
Moonrise: 5:34am
Moonset: 2:20pm
21


Twi A: 5:56am
Twi N: 6:33am
Twi: 7:11am
Sunrise: 7:46am
Sunset: 4:47pm
Twi: 5:22pm
Twi N: 6:00pm
Twi A: 6:36pm
Moonrise: 6:24am
Moonset: 3:29pm
New moon22


Twi A: 5:56am
Twi N: 6:32am
Twi: 7:10am
Sunrise: 7:45am
Sunset: 4:49pm
Twi: 5:23pm
Twi N: 6:01pm
Twi A: 6:38pm
Moonrise: 7:04am
Moonset: 4:41pm
New Moon: 11:40pm
23


Twi A: 5:55am
Twi N: 6:32am
Twi: 7:10am
Sunrise: 7:44am
Sunset: 4:50pm
Twi: 5:24pm
Twi N: 6:02pm
Twi A: 6:39pm
Moonrise: 7:37am
Moonset: 5:53pm
24


Twi A: 5:54am
Twi N: 6:31am
Twi: 7:09am
Sunrise: 7:43am
Sunset: 4:52pm
Twi: 5:26pm
Twi N: 6:04pm
Twi A: 6:40pm
Moonrise: 8:05am
Moonset: 7:03pm
25


Twi A: 5:54am
Twi N: 6:30am
Twi: 7:08am
Sunrise: 7:42am
Sunset: 4:53pm
Twi: 5:27pm
Twi N: 6:05pm
Twi A: 6:41pm
Moonrise: 8:28am
Moonset: 8:11pm
26


Twi A: 5:53am
Twi N: 6:29am
Twi: 7:07am
Sunrise: 7:41am
Sunset: 4:55pm
Twi: 5:29pm
Twi N: 6:06pm
Twi A: 6:43pm
Moonrise: 8:50am
Moonset: 9:17pm
27


Twi A: 5:52am
Twi N: 6:28am
Twi: 7:06am
Sunrise: 7:40am
Sunset: 4:56pm
Twi: 5:30pm
Twi N: 6:08pm
Twi A: 6:44pm
Moonrise: 9:12am
Moonset: 10:22pm
28


Twi A: 5:51am
Twi N: 6:27am
Twi: 7:05am
Sunrise: 7:38am
Sunset: 4:58pm
Twi: 5:32pm
Twi N: 6:09pm
Twi A: 6:45pm
Moonrise: 9:34am
Moonset: 11:25pm
29


Twi A: 5:50am
Twi N: 6:26am
Twi: 7:04am
Sunrise: 7:37am
Sunset: 4:59pm
Twi: 5:33pm
Twi N: 6:10pm
Twi A: 6:47pm
Moonrise: 9:57am
Moonset: none
First quarter moon30


Twi A: 5:49am
Twi N: 6:25am
Twi: 7:03am
Sunrise: 7:36am
Sunset: 5:01pm
Twi: 5:34pm
Twi N: 6:12pm
Twi A: 6:48pm
Moonrise: 10:24am
Moonset: 12:28am
First Qtr: 8:11pm
31


Twi A: 5:48am
Twi N: 6:24am
Twi: 7:02am
Sunrise: 7:35am
Sunset: 5:03pm
Twi: 5:36pm
Twi N: 6:13pm
Twi A: 6:49pm
Moonrise: 10:54am
Moonset: 1:30am
    
Standard/Winter Time for entire month.
Courtesy of www.sunrisesunset.com
Copyright © 2011 Steve Edwards


Civil twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 6 degrees below the horizon. This is the limit at which twilight illumination is sufficient, under good weather conditions, for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished; at the beginning of morning civil twilight, or end of evening civil twilight, the horizon is clearly defined and the brightest stars are visible under good atmospheric conditions in the absence of moonlight or other illumination. In the morning before the beginning of civil twilight and in the evening after the end of civil twilight, artificial illumination is normally required to carry on ordinary outdoor activities. Complete darkness, however, ends sometime prior to the beginning of morning civil twilight and begins sometime after the end of evening civil twilight.

Nautical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening, when the center of the sun is geometrically 12 degrees below the horizon. At the beginning or end of nautical twilight, under good atmospheric conditions and in the absence of other illumination, general outlines of ground objects may be distinguishable, but detailed outdoor operations are not possible, and the horizon is indistinct.

Astronomical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 18 degrees below the horizon. Before the beginning of astronomical twilight in the morning and after the end of astronomical twilight in the evening the Sun does not contribute to sky illumination; for a considerable interval after the beginning of morning twilight and before the end of evening twilight, sky illumination is so faint that it is practically imperceptible.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Need Snowshoes?

A place I've stopped at a number of times on my way up to either the springs . . . or my days Skiing at Stevens . . . is the Stevens Pass Snowboard Shop.  For three years running now, Stevens Pass Snowboard Shop has been voted the Best Ski and Snowboard shop by voters on King 5 Evening Magazine "The Best of Western Washington".  It is a reputation well deserved.

Besides skis and snowboards you can rent any and all equipment you could possibly need to play in the snow.  Snow Shoe rental too!  Snow shoes with boots go for $20 per day . . . just the snowshoes (your boots) rent for $15 per day.  An option if you don't want to invest in $200 snowshoes for just one or two treks onto the soft powder.

Stevens Pass Snowboard Shop is located right alongside Highway 2 in Goldbar at  

617 Croft Ave., 
Tel (360) 799-0693

View Larger Map

Olympic Hot Springs Inaccessible


Olympic Hot Springs Road (Elwha) is closed to all public access above Altair Campground due to the Glines Canyon dam removal.
Sol Duc Road is closed at Highway 101 due to repairs. It is scheduled for reopening in March 2012.

Olympic Hot Springs will be inaccessible from the Elwha Valley.Hikers interested in visiting the Olympic Hot Springs during the three-year dam removal project may reach the springs by hiking 14 miles from the Sol Duc Valley via Appleton Pass.


I had a conversation the other day with someone asking for information about getting to Olympic Hot Springs via Sol Duc.  Since the Glines Canyon Dam removal (at the base of the fully decommissioned Olympic Hot Springs Road) started December 19th of this year, the old road has been gated and all access prohibited.  This means that the only way to access Olympic Hot Springs is via the backdoor route . . . the trail over Appleton Pass . . . a 14 mile hike with 2,500 feet of elevation gain.

To add insult to injury . . . seems the Sol Duc road to the trailhead into that backdoor route (Sol Duc Trail to Appleton Pass Trail), is also closed until March of 2012 for repairs.  This adds another 13 miles to the trip.  Suddenly, a visit to Olympic Hot Springs is a 30 mile trip . . . definitely not a day trip.


Washington State has few opportunities for natural soaking . . .  I'm putting out feelers for updates:

  • Goldmyer Hot Springs - 11 mile level hike from the gate Middle Fork Road near North Bend.  Goldmyer requires advance reservations and a fee of $15 (last time I checked).  Caretakers live on-site.
  • Baker Hot Springs - last I heard they had rebuilt the pool after the landslide a few years ago.  Located on the east side of Mt Baker, these 105F hot springs are usually accessible in winter with 4WD vehicles and a short hike.
  • Ohanapenosh Hot Springs - in the southern end of Mt Ranier National Park . . . off-limits and enforced.  Pretty colorful mineralization though.
  • Lester Hot Springs - off limits, within City of Tacoma watershed.  Patrolled.
  • Wind River Hot Springs - Near the Columbia River, the springs are public but you must cross private property to get to them.  That permission is no longer forthcoming.  Skirting the private property by hiking the steep riverbank ravines is dangerous and poison oak effused outside of winter.
  • Sulfur Creek Hot Springs - Unappetizing, trust me.
  • Gamma Creek Hot Springs - plan on five days to get to this super-hot hot spring on the east side of Glacier Peak.  This hike is not doable in winter . . . in summer, a scavenger hunt to find the sources to rebuild the pool.  Lots of mountain goats, though.
  • and, of course, Scenic Hot Springs . . . still there and why it is so important we protect this wonderful offering from Mother Nature.
For those more adventurous and with time on their hands, our neighbors (Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia) have a plethora of accessible natural hot springs . . . many more than I could mention here.  A few:

  • Bagby Hot Springs - east of Portland, Oregon near Estacada.  Public, usually accessible with snow tire and/or chains.
  • Terwilliger (aka Cougar) Hot Springs - east of Eugene, Oregon . . . usually accessible year round.  $5 fee.
  • Skookumchuck Hot Springs, north of Harrision Lake in British Columbia . . . fee site and also run by the owner of Scenic Hot Springs.