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

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Scenic Topo Survey Images

Scenic Topo Survey Images. . . as we obtain more data points the topography of Scenic Hot Springs is firming up. This screen capture from my surveying software shows the overall features of Scenic; including the BPA Road, the trail up to the springs, and the so-far identified hot spring sources along with water flows. To the lower left of the image you can see the beginnings of the planning for a secured parking area. More images are available in the Scenic Yahoo Photos Album under Topography. 

Rick (aka

Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 02, 2004

This is what it is all about, isn't it? Why we must preserve Scenic in the most natural state possible. Posted by Hello

Scenic up near the springs was a winter fairy land this past week Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 28, 2004

FS Gate Padlock Shot up Saturday

FS Gate padlock shot up Saturday Posted by Hello
Photo courtesy George

You know, whomever did this is giving a bad rap to people who supposedly like the great outdoors, and especially Scenic Hot Springs. What on earth could possess someone to engage in such silly vandalism? What is it going to prove? We will simply have the lock cut off and replaced . . . only first, we have to notify the Forest Service . . . as in United States Government Forest Service?

Yep, that's right. The person, or persons responsible were on Forest Service lands, that was a Forest Service gate and the padlock is U.S. Government property. Oh, and you shot a firearm off within 100 feet of a Forest Service Road, which is specifically prohibited by federal law. That, alone is a $5,000 fine and/or six months in prison. Seems you are facing several federal felonies and I would suspect that you left plenty of evidence laying around . . . including those slugs in the padlock.

We have no choice but to report this to the Forest Service and they have no choice but to investigate, so sleep tight, dude, and don't freak too much when the feds come a'rapping at your door. Bubba is waiting for you . . .

Rick (aka Banged_up_shins)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

How Not to Make a Campfire!

I took a quick trip up to Scenic this Wednesday to get some measurements and because I figure this might be the last time my trusty Honda Civic is going to be able to negotiate the FS road up past the gate . . . snows forecast for Wednesday night. Earlier in the week we had found that someone was building campfires up there so I figured I'd also get some shots of that and then spend some time soaking in the tub.

It wasn't raining too hard . . . a steady drizzle, but I had my rainsuit on and was staying dry. Had the place all to myself. When the pool came into sight you could see the raindrops doing their thing on the surface. From a distance above, the pool looked fine . . . some twigs and cedar leaves. About halfway down I thought to myself 'the spring is running awfully strong . . . so strong that the collector wasn't catching it all and instead the water was running downhill and straight at the pool. Torrents eroding the uphill side and around. I took a closer look at a pile to wood covering the collector pipe that was way out of place.

These boards normally protect the piping but now they are covering vandalism . . . all the hot water is running freely down the slope above the pool Posted by Hello

An accident? Possible. But it sure looked like someone had gone out of their way to divert the hotter spring water from the pool by separating the piping above.

I reconnected everything and protected the joint but the big surprise was coming up . . . as soon as I undressed and stepped into the pool . . . barely body temperature with an cold layer of water on the bottom. That was the effect of a day or two without the hotter spring putting it's water into the pool. Number two spring just could keep up and the rainwater overwhelmed it.

The pool was filthy, as well and I set to work doing a good scrubbing while emptying half the water to allow the hotter spring to bring it up to temperature with fresh water. Eventually it became nice and toasty and I had a good soak. Finished, I set the siphons to empty the pool completely and get a fresh, clean load going. Time to take some pictures of the campfires these jerks have been building up here Posted by Hello

Scenic Hot Springs is a fire-restricted area for many reasons but I never thought about the possibility of actually burning down the decking and pool, itself. There is a sign posted to that effect . . .

It is impossible to miss this sign . . . so why do they continue to build fires? Posted by Hello

Fires like this one . . . one of many small fires built on the pool decking recently Posted by Hello

. . . or a bigger fire with our timber. Imagine if this pile of wood happened to go up in flames. Posted by Hello

This charred piece of wood was tossed up the slope toward the source of the springs. It is a structural support ripped out of part of the decking . . . Posted by Hello

Can you see where they ripped out supports for firewood? That section of decking is on it's way down the mountainside now Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Snow Warning at Scenic this Thanksgiving Weekend

The snow levels are dropping and the precip going up . . . in other words, a lot of snow is going to be dumped in the Scenic area starting Wednesday night and continuing throughout the weekend, so be prepared.

- Snow levels around 1,500 feet . . . that's well below the FS road entrance on Highway 2 and you can just bet the snow plows clearing the highway will be piling a snow/ice dam across the entrance. Don't get trapped.

- Dress appropriately and carry the right gear. Expect freezing rain as the snow level yo-yo's up and down. You may have to snowshoe it if it gets too deep.

- Be careful of ice accumulation suddenly rocketing to earth from the BPA power lines when you are hiking under them. Pay particular attention to snow accumulations on the slopes above you. Gravity has a tendency to make that snow come down on top of hikers.

- Note the trail back . . . particularly the upper stretch because we have already had people getting lost and disoriented when they couldn't make out the trail back down.

- Let someone know that you are up there in case something happens and you do get trapped.

Better yet . . . wouldn't you rather stay home and enjoy time with family and friends this Thanksgiving weekend?

Rick (aka banged_up_shins)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Updated: Why No Camping at Scenic?

Posted in TribeNet

I've been just a casual user of Scenic over the past few years, having made the trek perhaps a dozen times since I first learned of it. I always wanted to become involved in the community so I could give back, but I could never find contact information. So hey, I'm glad to have found this tribe.

Anyway, I understand that there's a no camping rule there now. I respect that, but I am curious why. I've never camped there, but there's a number of beautiful spots and have longed to camp overnight there.

So, what is the rationale?

The rationale behind the no camping rule is two-fold.

1. At the moment the owner lacks sufficient control over what is happening on his property . . . especially after nightfall. The terrain is difficult and several accidents have already happened to people unprepared for an overnight stay up at the springs. The owner has been remarkable easy about looking the other way when soakers visit during daylight hours but the fact is, it is still posted private property for a variety of reasons . . . liability, King County Sheriff's Department and sensitive negotiations to legally reopen the springs to the public. Additionally, cars parked overnight at the gate continue to be vandalized on a regular basis. The authorities have laid down a few unofficial rules and 'no camping' is one of them.

2. The desirous camping spots up there lie directly over the aquifer feeding the springs and are highly sensitive to contamination . . . you take a dump up above the main spring or on the flat area off to the side and the fecal coliform bacteria will show up in the spring waters eventually. Those areas have to be controled and put off-limits.

Additionally, Mike informs me that the 40 acres of land encompassing Scenic Hot Springs is in an area classed as a 'Fire Restricted' area by the Skykomish Fire District. The 40 acres is surrounded by, and contiguous with the Alpine Wilderness Area on the south and National Forest Lands on the sides where fires of any sort are not permitted except by special, one time permits. The Forest Service is not going to allow any activities at Scenic that jeopardize or present a fire risk to the adjacent forest and wilderness lands. Camping is one of those activities.

Rick (aka banged_up_shins)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Campfires on the Deck of the Pool?

Saturday night right at dusk as I was awaiting Mike to head back down and home, I turned away two visitors hiking their way up to the springs with larger than normal backpacks . . . campers. When I confronted one on the BPA road and informed him he was on private property and didn't he see the sign on the side of the road, he was ready with his excuse. He said 'but I thought this is forest service property . . . the sign was on the hill' as if he expected the sign to be stuck in the middle of the road to be official? All with a smile as if I'm going to fall for that. Another fifty feet and he's going to have to turn right onto the trail and that is the private property he was supposedly respecting. Anyway, this is becoming a nightly occurrence whenever I am up there surveying. The consequences of campers and night-time use is becoming a serious problem.

Today, we did the preliminary layout for an eventual parking area in the lower property, spending almost all day down there. Eventually, we headed up to the springs for a soak. I went around the upper trail to check for evidence of campers and found plenty from the previous night. The fire-ring still had dry, warm ashes in it . . . must have been a huge blaze. And a good-sized group as well because they had set up rudimentary benches to sit around the fire.

Mike came by the lower trail past the latrine and when I met up with him he didn't seem too happy. Someone had broken lumber off the scrap pile and built a rather large fire right on the decking near the tub. And you know what is posted right next to that fire-scourged deck? A 'No Campfires' sign! The railing where we hang our clothing was loose . . . as if they had tried to tear that out first for firewood before heading for the stacked lumber below. Are these the sort of people we want up at Scenic Hot Springs?

Rick (aka banged_up_shins)

Commentary: Patterns of Possession

For those that have been following the comments to my article on volunteer-ism, the anonymous poster does open up some very interesting and important considerations about how people tend to claim things for themselves and it seems to be a pattern at many hot springs as they evolve through illegal possession to ownership involvement (positive or negative). There always seems to be a 'Friends of' this spring or that . . . the 'regulars'. They are there so often that at some point they come to think of the springs as their own personal property to the exclusion of any new blood coming in.

What starts off as an altruistic intent to manage and care for the springs in the absence of (or hands-off approach by) the owners turns into a tight-knit group that assumes authority and dictates the atmosphere around the springs. This has happened at every hot spring I have ever been to, so Scenic is no exception. You go up there to soak and you feel unwelcome when the regulars descend and start preaching.

A culture evolves around soaking that not everyone is comfortable with; and eventually, as my anonymous poster points out, a sort of wild-west anarchy breaks out with drugs, fights and alcohol. Do I blame the Friends? In a way, I suppose they set the stage for the inevitability of this lawlessness. But in the same breath I have to add that the Friends of Scenic were also the only moderating influence that kept a wild-west, backwoods mentality from reigning terror over the springs. Imagine if a motorcycle gang had established themselves up there!

I have always distanced myself from these groups because of the inevitable conflicts that take place; yet I understand their possessive nature borne out of love for the springs, themselves. Many of them I call friends to this day.

In a way, I am also guilty of a sort of possessive nature because I do assume some actionability and authority when I turn people around who are intending to camp or bring a dog up. Only recently has the owner implied the propriety of my doing so, but I must be careful not to assume too much. I am not Mike's agent; simply his friend and as a friend it is hard not to berate someone violating his property.

With Scenic undergoing a rough transformation from illegal to legal, it is disheartening to see sides being taken, but thoroughly understandable. The 'Friends' do not want to let go and let Scenic evolve. Others are only too happy to see their influence taken away. And somewhere in the middle of this, the new owner must make decisions. And he must take counsel where he can.

Scenic must change, and change for the better. The old, free-wheeling days are gone. Where authority once rested with a de'facto imposition by 'regulars', a caretaker will have to enforce a few simple rules for the betterment of all visitors. Anyone who has had influence at Scenic in the past will also have to change or be left far behind.

The poster has grievances and valid ones because I have also seen them and I have no desire to revisit the past.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Vandalism at Scenic

Also posted in TribeNet

It seems that some people just don't give a f**k and are going to ruin any chance that Scenic will open again in the foreseeable future.

Today, or more precisely sometime last night, some a**hole removed all the signs we had put up in accordance with the wishes of the sheriffs department. Those signs were carefully worded to protect the owners liability without being too rejecting of those headed up to the springs. Those signs cost a f**king lot of money (I know, I had them made), and now they are gone. Not simply over the side of the mountain, but gone!

Mike is upset. Mike is probably pissed and I wouldn't blame him. George is angry. I am in a killing mood (it's a good thing I don't own a gun). I spent hours hiking the slopes hoping to find those signs. What does it take to get it through your minds that as long as vandalism and disrespect for Mike's property continues that at some point he will just shut everyone off and enforce the No Trespassing.

Why do couples come waltzing down the trail with a dog off-leash and believe that it is okay despite the prohibition against dogs because they had the damn dog tied up while they soaked? That to the owner within reading distance of the sign saying 'No Pets'. What is wrong with everyone? They didn't even bother to pick up the dog shit on the trail! I don't come into your house or property and behave like that.

What part of NO CAMPING doesn't make sense? Why is it everytime George goes up there, some idiot is either heading up or coming back down with tent and sleeping bag?

I said hello to the sheriffs' department deputy today at the gate. Wanted to know what I was doing there. Good thing I had authority to be there cause they are checking.

For the irresponsible . . . get realistic. You want Scenic? The only way that is going to happen is to follow the rules and give Mike a chance to prove to the county that this can work without the public nuisance morass of the past. Scenic is on probation!

For the responsible ones who do care . . . if you see someone violating or planning to violate the rules, let them know they just cannot and they'd better turn around. And if they won't, get license plate numbers and descriptions so that we can do something about it.

Rick (aka

Monday, November 08, 2004

Photos of Trail Erosion Control Measures

The major undertaking of the work party last Saturday was the placement of four water bars on the lower portion of the trail from the property line up to the first creek, or Honeymoon Creek.

The county specified no more than fifty foot seperation and logs of at least 8-10 inches in diameter. The logs were to extend completely across the trail and extend, or overhand, over the downhill side. Bare, who has experience putting in water bars and trail erosion measures, directed the efforts . . . and we hauled huge fallen trees onto the trail and downhill to manhandle in place. Each water bar got three spaced rebar stakes to secure them in place and on the uphill side the dirt was backfilled to control flow sideways instead of under the water bars.

One last look to show where the uphill end of the water bar is directly set into the slope at the edge. Posted by Hello

Looking back up the trail at that first water bar and the warning sign posted at the entrance. Posted by Hello

Down at the entrance again with the first water bar set at the property line across trail. In the background are a few of the volunteers who undertook the huge effort. Posted by Hello

Natural features such as this large boulder were taken advantage of to secure the logs. Note the drainage channel on the uphill (left) side of log. Posted by Hello

and downhill, two water bars near the trail entrance Posted by Hello

Looking uphill you can just make out another water bar 50 ft uphill Posted by Hello

Water bars were fully set and staked to be stable Posted by Hello

and the uphill sides were set with compacted soil. Posted by Hello

Water bars extended completely across trail Posted by Hello

Showing the 50ft spacing of water bars Posted by Hello

Low image of water bar across trail showing the 8-10 inch diameter of logs Posted by Hello

Another detail of the rebar stakes. Three were used for each water bar and pounded securely into the ground. Posted by Hello

taking advantage of natural slope and drainage Posted by Hello

uphill side of water bar with compacted soil and rock against log Posted by Hello

looking downhill at two of the waterbars Posted by Hello

and end extending beyond trail edge Posted by Hello

Water bar next to Honeymoon creek across trail Posted by Hello

and Posted by Hello

First water bar at trail head at property line Posted by Hello