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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.

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?


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Chanterelle_Cantharellus_cibarius.jpg

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
Salmonberry
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 scenichotsprings@gmail.com 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.