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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Snow Conditions at the Hot Springs

At this time the road to the gate is no longer accessible due to snow. Snowplows have begun building a snow berm along Hwy. 2, and there is about a foot of snow at the gate. There was a bit over two feet of snow at the springs.   Winter parking is the alternate parking site given when permission is granted.  This adds an extra 1/2 mile to the hike (2 miles with 1,300 ft of elevation gain).

Snowshoes or some other form of traction . . . i.e., trax or crampons . . . are a good idea.  Visits are by permission in advance.  See the calendar located in the sidebar for an idea of the current reservation status.  We limit the number of visitors each day to provide a better all around experience.  If you do not have advance permission you will be asked to leave.

As always, go prepared for the elements.  Scenic is a hiker's wilderness hot spring.  The hike is is arduous (especially in winter).  Wear appropriate winter clothing (practice layering and avoid cotton).  Carry the ten essentials of winter survival and especially several different ways of starting a fire in a survival situation.  Scenic has no known avalanche chutes but snow can get very deep and energy-sapping to brute-plow through at the height of winter or when a sudden winter storm blows through nearby Stevens Pass.

Carry energy bars, have plenty of water, carry a large plastic trash bag to keep your belongings dry while you soak . . . and don't forget a towel.  The trick to getting out of the hot springs and into freezing weather is to do it in steps.  Dry of the upper torso while standing waist-deep . . . pull on a top to conserve your core body heat, step higher and dry the lower torso . . . and finally dry the feet.  Get the socks on soon as cold feet stay that way forever :-)

One last hint . . . carry some form of lighting (flashlight, headlamp) as darkness descends on the mountains earlier and rather quickly.  Night soaking at Scenic is not allowed.  Please be off the mountainside before darkness descends.  And again, request permission . . . don't be a trespasser whom we may be forced to have cited or arrested.

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