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

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Insanity at Bagby: Getting trapped in a winter storm

An enlightening recap of one couple's visit to Bagby Hot Springs only to be caught under the full brunt of the winter wind storm that hit the Cascades on Dec 12-13th, 2006. Bagby is a very popular natural hot spring in the National Forest east of, and reasonable close to Portland, Oregon. The original discussion thread was posted in the forums.

After some light snowshoeing near government camp. My gf and I headed for Bagby hot springs. We arrived around 3pm and were greeted by a nice couple who planned to camp. The weather was calm and seemingly stable. On the trail my gf and I passed two men with hoods who stepped off the trail to avoid us, they said nothing, who knows what they were up to.. With our personal safety in mind we decided not to soak until the couple showed. They arrived and headed for the back pool, Four russians were following and they chose the lower pool, my gf and I decided the Honeymoon tub was ideal. No more than five minutes in the pool and at about 6:00pm the winds began to howl... a few branches came down, then we heard rotten tops dropping, echoing like gunshots from just a couple hundred feet to several miles away... Without a word we were dressed and were conversing with the russians. They didn't seem to grasp the concept of a forest falling apart but quickly got the picture. My gf and I along with the other couple took shelter in a hollow log and the russians took shelter somewhere in the complex, time went on and we heard yelling and saw a flashlight, I believe they only had one between them. The russians were attempting to go for their vehicle, senconds after they went it was a cataclysm of events, hearing 50 to 100 trees fall in just seconds, assuming that landslides carrying everything had blocked the trail and surely killed them. All we could do was pray. We waited for over 4 hours in the middle of this mess. Out of desperation we charged the trail climbing over several insane blow downs that were 3 and 4 feet in diameter. Dodging falling limbs we made it to the car only to find more trees blocking the road..I pondered squating in the concrete outhouse, the surrounding trees were just way too big. I even considered hiding under a concrete bridge before the log but also canned that one due to the river rising past flood stage, plus I was wet and felt hypothermic, so we parked our cars.. tried to close our eyes and accepted our was miserable being in that box hearing the madness outside and wondering when a tree was going to pick us. Around 4 am the temperature dropped and snow began to fall. Several inches accumulated.. my gf and I decided then to get the hell out of there and snowshoe 12-15 miles to ripplebrook. After making it several miles and being somewhat confident in ourselves... we were astonished to see a convoy of sheriffs who had received 5 separate reports for missing g/f and I being two of them, unfortunately nobody reported the couple.. The sheriffs explained that they cleared a few dozen trees all the way from carver to get to us, it was a great feeling to know they were out there. After they cleared the last log, we were on our way home. Sleep deprived and hungry we were thankful to beat the odds, I personally heard at least 250 trees drop over the roaring 90 mph winds and pouring rain. There hasn't been a storm of that caliber in over ten years and we just happened to be in the cascades. I wish we had payed closer attention to the weather report, we've seen snow up there, landslides and people trapped but, somehow there was still no way to imagine what was in store. All in all... we coped fairly well and i've decided if someone is going to pursue the outdoors.. they are gonna learn a lesson or two along the way we sure learned ours! Those mysterious guys on foot had to be die hard to be up there with no car, who knows what they did... as for the russians it's doubtful they ever made it anywhere, they probaly just took whatever spur roads that weren't blocked. I'll almost guarantee they ended up in a miserable situation far deeper into the wilderness. We hope they're okay, But the odds for tragedy were very high.

is the latest from Volunteer Jack:

I was curious about the storm damage and went up Saturday to investigate. There was a sign at the beginning of Hwy 46 indicating "Storm Damaged Road". Hwy 46 had maybe 5 places where trees fell across the road and Hwy 63 and 70 had about 6 more. In each place, only enough of the tree was cut to allow a single vehicle to pass. With the ice and snow, it was pretty slow going. I moved several large boulders off the road.

/>The Bagby trail is passable now. I cleared 30 or so large fir limbs from the trail and many smaller ones. I pushed three smallish tree trunks out of the way (8-12 inches in diameter). The only remaining obstacles are 3 very large trees that have fallen across the main trail about 1/2 mile in from the trailhead. The first tree is about 3 ft, the second is 3 1/2 ft and the last is over 4 ft in diameter. The first two are flat on the trail and can be straddled. The largest tree is two ft above the trail on one side and 3 1/2 ft on the uphill side. Hikers are ducking under the uphill side as there's no way around and the tree is too big to climb over.

/>Be safe, check the road conditions with the Forest Service, and make sure you know the weather forecast. Conditions can change quickly in the mountains, so be prepared!

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A Comment on a Comment on a post (good this time)

Ron at the Hot Springs Association made such a good and valuable comment that I felt it deserved to be prominently displayed as a main article . . . so here it is:


Well said Rick!

The secret to using closed hot springs - Never ask to soak when you know the public is not invited to do the same.

-Never expect to soak and leave without asking.

-Volunteer repeatedly for all cleanups, work parties, meetings, and do some of the real hard work (like writing, and planning, and building relationships with the Forest Service).

-No owner, nor steward of a closed hot spring, who has a real understanding of health codes, state laws, federal laws, county laws, and city laws will EVER say that you can soak. Not if they are smart.

However, if you are smart, work hard and often, and never ask about soaking in a closed springs, maybe, just maybe, you'll find yourself on solo work detail, or guard duty one weekend. And at 4am, when no one is there, you can ease into that pool of blissfully warm water, stare at the stars and realize, that if you work harder, and keep your mouth shut about your presently illegal soak, it might all just happen again.

The point is, if you cannot contribute to a hot springs future, and you cannot forgo a soak today so that all can soak years from now, the springs can and will be lost to all, and forever, at least in any real sense. (Think Ohanapecosh, or one of many others)

Think for the long-term.



Ron at hotspringsassociation dot org

P.S. Always sign your name to your posts.

Ohanapencosh, Baker destroyed and a serious look into its' future by the Forest Service, Olympic under threat by the Parks Service, Lester, Green River, Wind River, Austin . . . etc., etc. Do you see a pattern folks? Get involved! Rick

Quick Update

With all the wild weather we have been getting recently there is not much to report on the actual situation up at Scenic Hot Springs. The springs are still there, as is the Monster Pool, but there has been very little activity other than minor cleanup activities and some topograpical site surveying (done by yours trully).

I assume there is a lot of snow up there. The last time I drove by (right after the November storms) there was already an appreciable snow berm across the FS road. Snow is as probably as deep as it was last year. A number of volunteers have expressed a desire to snowshoe up to the springs. To those I say . . . please be careful and don't bite of more than you can deal with. Please let me know if you plan to make a trip . . . and please give us a trip report on conditions afterward (with pics).

On the bureaucratic front the battles go on and there is better news to hint at from that direction. As much as we may detest the very necessity of hiring lawyers and consultants, they are finally begining to make an impact on the county's way of thinking about Scenic Hot Springs. There is a solid glimmer of success coming from these endless meetings with the county. I wish I could share the specifics but that might compromise negotiations. Just suffice it to say that the latest round was VERY PROMISING.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Comment on a Rude Comment


So goes a comment posted in this blog relating a visit to the hot springs by the sheriff. Actually, I laughed when I read it . . . and then a little peeved off at the audacity of the poster's comments. Sort of a challenge, isn't it. Should I just ignore the person and comment . . . delete the comment . . . or take the bait and yell right back? I think the latter . . .

Must be easy to attack someone from behind the mask of an Anonymous post. Cowardly, it might be said. Are you afraid to give your name? Good move though because if I knew who you were I would make sure you never set foot on the hot springs property again. You . . . meaning the idiotic, spelling-impaired commentor . . . are the main reason these hot springs are NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC . . . and probably will NOT BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FOR A LONG TIME! There, I can yell too.

Now, you're all intelligent and edumacated; tell me how we can get the hot springs open as you seem to imply it would be to do so. Simply throw open the gate and let anyone wander onto the land to do as they please? How f*cking naive can anyone be? You are the f*cking idiot who needs to grow up and be a man!!!!!!!

The facts are:
  • FACT: This is private property and the owner of this property is obligated legally under threat of contempt to destroy the hot spring pools and to close access by the public to the property.
  • FACT: Even if the owner gave the property to the public (and the Forest Service for free), the Forest Service would not take it because they know what problems hot springs produce . . . including clueless idiots like the commentator.
  • FACT: The owner has been navigating the masses of governmental red tape for three years now, spending thousands of dollars to bring this hot spring back to the public legally. I don't see idiots like this stupid, moronic commentator doing diddly-sh*t to help out in that process. There is no magic lamp to wish this to happen.
  • FACT: Hot Springs DO NOT BELONG TO THE PEOPLE, no matter how much you may wish they did. Get over it and grow up! The owner is under more legal and fiscal constraints than you have any idea. He is liable for the actions of idiots on his property unless he follows the process. You want and want and want . . . yet give nothing back.
So, rant over. The next time you feel compelled to open your mouth and spew vitrolic, take a deep breath and sit on a rock high in the mountains for a few days. You'll gain new perspective on life. Oh, and learn to use a spell-checker as well.

Rick (notice I signed my post?)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Scenic Hot Springs Conditions

Lots of snow up there . . . a snow berm across the access road.

There will be an updated condition report in a day or so from Ryan who is going to check out conditions.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bagby Hot Springs and Riverside Cleanup

Saturday, September 16, 2006
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Edit event
Category: Social
SOLV presents the Oregon Adopt-a-River Program - Sponsored by the Northwest Forest Conservancy

Our Hosts: The USDA Forest Service

Bagby Hot Springs; Clackamas Rver; CollawashRiver; Hot Springs Fork; Austin Hot Springs Cleanup

When: Saturday, Sept 16th 2006
Where: Meet at the Ripplebrook Ranger Station
What: Bagby Hot Springs and Riverside Cleanup!
From 9am to 1pm cleanup sections of the Clackamas River, Collawash River and the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River that runs from Bagby Hot Springs to Austin Hot Springs.

Who: The Northwest Forest Conservancy adopted these rivers, and in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service works to keep them clean.
More information:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Clean Up Party Scheduled Sept 9th at 9am

While we still await decisions from the county in regards to slopes and stream restoration permits we have erosion control measures that need to be addressed prior to the coming Fall and Winter wet seasons. So, for all of you who wanted to participate in a clean up event, this is your opportunity as there are few that can be scheduled while we still in permit-limbo.

This clean up party is to deal with some of the erosion problems in the BPA clearcut area and involves a fun time working together with others who love these springs. Two main goals: 1) Make sure the culverts on the upper road are clear and that drainage will be unimpeded, and, 2) Do some diversion work on the slopes below the upper BPA road.

The slopes are steep so I do ask all participants to wear appropriate clothing (especially sturdy boots). Bring your favorite pair of work gloves and if you have trenching tools like picks or mattocks and narrow blade shovels, bring them along.

We will meet at the gate at 9am and then proceed on up to the clear cut area where there will be parking for most vehicles. 4x4s may proceed further up with our tools and equipment. After the day's labor . . . well, it's soak time and food.

Please RSPV directly back to me if you intend to participate. Let's also try to arrange carpooling to limit the number of vehicles.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Let's set the record straight . . . (updated)

Update: I took a lot of flack for this post, and an identical post in TribeNet. Despite my frustration at the events the lead up to my posting, I feel and know I need to make a public apology to the persons involved who believed, in all honesty, that there was a Clean-up Party on August 7th. As one commentor points out, that date is listed in the Friends of Scenic Hots Springs Tribe Summary if you click on the 'more' link. Over the months and years you tend to forget that old information and it came back to bite me. I've asked Robert, the moderator to correct the Tribe's summary. That August 7th date was the first work party scheduled way back in 2004. Again, I apologize. Rick

I don't know where this idea of a work party on Aug the 7th came from but it is bogus information.

Something bothers me.The follow on group also used the excuse that they were up there to cleanup the trail and I thought to myself as I was hiking down that it was too coincidental . . . two different parties carrying trash bags to pick up stuff? Convenient excuse in case challenged? There was also a lot of name-dropping going on . . . "Oh, Mike said it was okay". When was that? Last year? Were you at the last cleanup party? Do you have a 'permission card'?

I talked with Mike for over an hour after that. Lots of people he doesn't recognize and he doesn't remember the vehicles. Mike drove up to the springs to wait at the gate . . . mainly to make sure no one tried to sneak in after dark. But I suspect he was interested in those who dropped his name. Come on folks . . . be honest. Respect and attitude counts more than anything else, but stories of clean-up parties (and signs in the car windows) kind of peeve me off and I'm just gonna start turning people around that are not on the list I carry.

The only place where clean up parties are officially announced is here, in this blog. The next clean up party won't be till September or so . . . we are still waiting for the land use permits and can do nothing without them.

On the different tack . . . to the couple I met up at the springs (the jeep Cherokee at the gate) and the Harley hog illegally parked up on the BPA road. Don't bother coming back to the hot springs. You are banned (Mike concurs). The activities of the past are over. Scenic will become family-friendly whether you like it or not. When I came over the rise above the springs, I could have quietly sat there and taken picture after picture in glorious detail . . . so engrossed you two were. Instead, I hope I embarrassed you enough with the 'Come on kids, this isn't the place for a 'b***j**'. I spent the next two hours emptying the pool and scrubbing it down after I suggested you leave.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Definitely Not The Place To Park

Well, it ain't the chain-up area where you're limited to 15 minutes but you will definitely attract the attention of the State Patrol or the Sheriff's department; both of whom patrol this section of highway pretty often. Don't know if you can legally park on the shoulder of SR2 . . . perhaps someone can clue me in . . . but it's pretty obvious where the occupants of this truck went . . . the hot springs.

That kind of publicity we don't need. The deputy will drive by, note the car and say 'aha . . . someone is sneaking in to the springs and they're posted'. The deputy does have a key to the gate (we gave him one) so he can simply drive in looking for you. Or just wait.

On a related note, all the signs at the gate have been torn down. Childish behavior. There are still more warning signs posted further up and newcomers waste a hike when they have to wait till they get to the trailhead to really understand they are trespassing. Those who tear the signs down to maintain a plausible deniability . . . well, we'll catch you sooner or later and make sure you are never welcome at the springs in the future. Of course, you are not welcome now. You're childish pranks are completely at odds with respecting the springs and the owner's rights to the property they are on.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bear Warning

It was reported to me that a couple sneaking up to the springs (with two dogs . . . pit bulls, one off leash) encountered the black bear on the upper BPA road near the second tower. Fortunately the bear wasn't interested in them . . . just looked at them as they backed off. Unfortunately, this bear seems to have claimed the territory and is at home around humans and human scent. We have to remember, though, that this is a female bear with at least one cub and the potential for coming between her and her cub is high. I've had at least six sightings in the last week at all times of the day.

Bears are normally shy but will become extremely aggressive if they perceive a threat to their young. Be aware . . . make noise and make sure the bear knows where you are. Surprises cause bad encounters. If you are faced with a problem:
  • DO NOT RUN! Running incites the chase instinct in bears. Stand your ground and back away slowly. Besides, a bear can sprint up to 35mph easily. You can't.
  • If you are stupid enough to bring a dog up (like this couple did), keep it leashed. A dog will want to face off against a bear and you will be the loser here when the bear responds predictably and aggressively.
  • Speak in a deep, calm, measured voice. DO NOT SCREAM! Shrill sounds remind bears of their prey. Sound bigger and confident.
  • Make yourself bigger . . . hold a pack over your head. The bear has no desire to fight unless it's young are at risk. Make it think twice.
  • Bear are great tree climbers; better than you. Forget that idea. However, bears are lousy at climbing the braces of the BPA towers. If you are close to one and the bear won't back off, get up on a BPA tower . . . potentially high enough for your cell phone to work.
  • As a last resort, fight back with everything you have, sticks, stones, etc. Do not play dead to a black bear (as opposed to a grizzly). Black bears will back off the moment threat is removed.
An observation . . . I went up there. Yeah, I'm crazy but careful. Noticed my warning sign on the gate had been torn down (thanks, you idiots). I followed the bear prints as best I could and they definitely went up the trailhead area. Bears are foragers, especially for the garbage we humans throw over the side of the trail. Think about that the next time you feed the wildlife up at the springs. Are we inviting troublesome bears to take up residence?

Bottom line? Well, you probably don't belong up there on private property anyway, but if you are going to continue to ignore the signs please keep in mind that this area is forest and wilderness . . . this is bear territory. Be aware and Be careful!

Sightings? Let me know.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Good Intentions-Misguided Expertise

I'd meant to post about people taking it upon themselves to 'improve' the hot springs but never really found the time. But I want to tell you about one such attempt and the effect it has had on the volume and temperature of the springs . . . and just how difficult it is going to be to correct the problem.

The main, upper springs are generally grouped as four sources:
  1. Lobster Upper
  2. Lobster Lower
  3. Bear Den West, and
  4. Bear Den East
The Lobster sources are typically the hotter of the sources max'ing out at around 122F. The upper spring emerges in an exposed crack in granitic bedrock from an easterly direction but what few know is that a second fracture is exposed less than a foot to the east that sends a slight amount of hot spring water to mix with the main flow.

Sometime last year, someone got the bright idea to go digging in the source fracture to increase the flow from the westerly side . . . hoping to increase the volume to the pool. Like I said . . . good intentions. So, he (or she) got down close and with chisels and hammers, widened out the hot seep . . . lo and behold . . . flow did increase and that person must have felt really copacetic about his (or her) accomplishments. They just improved the springs (not).

What they really did was mess things up. There is actually a fifth source . . . the aforementioned fracture to the west. It is a totally different spring and it's water temperature changes at a radically different rate than the original spring did. All winter, spring and into summer I have been wondering why temperatures in the main spring (Lobster Upper) have been off by two to five degrees and slowly the story of this person's misguided attempts has come out. The original spring is still there . . . and temperature consistent as always. Except now, we have a second spring mixing its waters just prior to egress from the bedrock. That second spring runs colder and brings down the fabled skin-reddening scorch of the original Lobster Pot.

It may seem a moot point in the middle of summer . . . but come fall, winter and spring those few degrees make all the difference in the soaking experience. Mike says it can probably be fixed but it won't be easy . . . having to approach the spring emergences from below. For now, we have to defer the problem until after construction.

It also brings to mind how carefully we must protect the spring sources not only from accidental tampering or contamination . . . but also from well-meaning people.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bear and her Cub

Update: The bear and her cub have been spotted several times and are indeed denning in the area of the lower tower. Today's sighting (7-15-2005) was in the middle of the day and both mom and cub were noted by a visiting couple. I have posted a warning sign at the gate. Rick

There is a female black bear and her cub (I saw one, there may have been another) that might be denning in the new foliage of the BPA clearcut area around the base of the first lower tower . . . the one you must pass close by as you enter the BPA Loop Road.

Since the foliage is very dense and lush right now, I'm unsure exactly where mama and her cub went but that foliage hems in pretty tight along the second by-pass trail on up to the upper BPA Road. I suspect a den because I watched the area for a good half hour and noted ma and cub stayed around the lower tower area until darkness forced me to give up. Mother and young en' had come up from much lower down as dusk was falling.

BTW, it was a nervous hike down the bypass trail with all that foliage pressing in and me not knowing exactly where that bear was . . . I figured I passed within 50 feet of them on the way down. So be careful up there . . . make lots of noise if you have to be on the trail near dawn or dusk.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Wanted to help but missed the last cleanup?

. . . here's your chance to help out.

Hi folks. This is Rick and I want to thank everyone who helped out during the last cleanup effort.

Mike is at the springs now attempting to clean up the brush and burn it before a fire burn goes into effect anyday now. He sure could use help up there . . . an hour, a couple of hours, whatever. This is not an organized effort by any stretch . . . if you have some free time and want to visit the springs, drop on by . . . hike up and find Mike . . . give him a hand getting this stuff cleared out.

The problem is that when the contractors do the trail improvement they will just push old trees and brush over the side and that makes for an ugly mess months later. Mike is attempting to clear all the brush and trees in the trail route and burning them before machinery does their thing.

Here's a chance for the old hands as well as new folks. Got a friend who has wanted to visit the hot springs but missed a cleanup event? Just tell them to show up practically any day this week and weekend . . . mention to Mike that they are there to help as advertised. They enjoy the soak afterward.

Please RSVP me at if you intend to help so I can keep the record straight for Mike.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sheriff Deputy Called to the Springs

I've been informed that Deputy Harrington (based in Skykomish) had to go through the effort of hiking all the way up to the hot springs this weekend to kick two drunk trespassers out of the pool and off the property. It is unknown whether charges will be pressed or whether this action, started by unknowns, will have an effect of development plans. I gave Mike a spare key to the gate to give the Deputy Harrington so that he can drive onto the property the next time instead of hiking in.

The pattern has started again. If I catch anyone on the hot springs property that does not belong there I will turn you around . . . no matter how far in you've already hiked. There are enough signs posting this property as Private and no trespassing. Stay out! Keep your dogs out . . . keep your partying attitude out . . . keep the booze out. You will be reported! Period!


Monday, May 29, 2006

More Scenic Cleanup Pictures

I'd also like to reiterate Rick's comments! A big thanks goes out to everyone who helped! What a massive effort!

Here are some additional pictures from yesterday...


This last pic was taken by a member of a Seattle Hiking Group from across the mountain on the Iron Goat Trail. By coincedence, they captured our little bon fire!

If anyone would like a full res full size version of the pics, you can contact Rick who can get ahold of me directly....


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Awesome Clean Up Party!!!!

What else can I say? You guys and gals were just absolutely awesome in your infectious enthusiasm and love of Scenic Hot Springs. What took 15 years to build, 2 days for the county deputies to tear down and leave a scar on the mountainside . . . what took months for silent volunteers working under threat of trespass arrest to clean up only to sit as an ugly reminder of disrespect . . . 32 brave and loving souls cleaned up in one day of really hard and dirty work. Thousands of pounds of rotting wood, wire, concrete, PVC pipes and garbage has been removed from the bench and either burned or sorted for eventual and proper disposal. I didn't think it could be done . . . not in one or even a couple of clean up parties. You proved me wrong. The lessening of stress in Mike is palpital . . . this is a major obstacle out of the way; well on it's way to resolving the original code enforcement action of 2001.

One of the rustic latrines being burned is kind of a symbol to the clean up of Scenic and a new rebirth arriving.

We met at the gate at 9:30 in the morning on a drizzly Saturday morning . . . Robert (The Naked Gourmet) was already there with coffee and good cheer for our blurry-eyed yawns. Everyone brought tools: hammers, shovels, claws and a good assortment of esoteric items . . . like a gasoline-powered saw that looked absolutely mean. Our agenda was going to be to tackle all that stored construction material on the bench above the springs and to remove the rotting fascia board and 4x4 piers remaining from the demolition debacle of Oct 2001.

A little bit of shameful history is needed here and I repeat it without speaking officially. After the raid and eviction of the soakers in 2001 by the King County Sheriff's deputies a little-known act of disrespect took place on that hillside when the county destroyed everything they could of the original pools and decking. It wasn't a carefully-thought out demolition . . . it turned out to be what many have called, an act of spite. It was wanton destruction and the deputies left the mess as it fell on the hillside . . . a blight. Over the following months former spring lovers snuck up onto the property and piece by piece did what they could to clean up the ugly mess left by the county. They placed that material on the bench above the springs as best they could . . . unable to do much more for the springs they cherished. There this material has sat for five years. Saturday we started the effort to finally get rid of what the county started. They destroyed the site . . . we have made a huge dent to clean it up!

The destruction committed in 2001 after the raid on Scenic.

Bear was to lead the group to sort through that material that had been sitting for five years and make the call . . . 'good' for saving, 'garbage' for the growing rubbish heap . . . or 'burn it' for the insatiable bonfire being stoked by the resident pyromaniac, Sushi Bob. There, the majority of volunteers formed a human chain that passed sometimes very heavy sections of wood, wire, pipes, buckets, concrete slabs, and assorted garbage to the sorting area above the springs. It was dirty and hard grunt work . . . and it was a joy to watch everybody enthusiastically pitching in without a grumble.

The sole remaining pool at Scenic is the Monster Tub. It survived the best attempts by hyperactive deputies with chainsaws and sledghammers in 2001 . . . and has survived the test of time on the mountainside implacable and stubborn as the holder of the hot springs waters to this day. It's thick concrete shell is as much a part of the mountain as is the bedrock to which it is firmly anchored. But weathered wooden posts and sills had to go. Dale had this formidable task. Clean up the pool and salvage as much of the shell as the basis of the new springs.

We had to trench into the mountainside around the tub to finally put a measure of erosion control in place . . . and then we had to tease and brute-force out the concrete-anchored posts and jutting sections of rebar. That's where the gas-powered saw came in and I firmly believe Dale relished holding that mean-looking instrument in his hands.

Erosion control around the Monster Tub

Yours truly, had the misfortune of standing on the edge of the pool prying on a recalcitrant section of slippery 4x4 when it gave. Clothed and all . . . I got the first soak of the day.

By 4:30 we had cleaned off the bench area and had everything sorted. Two bonfires going good and Robert finally getting around to feeding us all. Suddenly, half of us were in the pool and grabbing that much needed soak.

If the pool wasn't dirty before from all the dirt we couldn't avoid falling in . . . it was after a couple of dozen soakers crammed in and let the soothing waters wash away the aches. Scenic is magical.

Much needs yet to be done and I hope our tireless volunteers will join us again as we improve the trails, manage to get an ATV up there to remove the trash . . . and then start the reconstruction of legal soaking pools.

Thank you so much to the volunteers who made this clean up so highly successful. You are indeed awesome and wonderful people!

Rick, echoing the sentiments of Mike (who is very grateful) as well as Bear and Dale.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Spring Thaw Conditions at Scenic

An idiot tried to drive off the BPA road and onto the second foot bypass trail sometime soon after the gate was broken open this week.

The Flicker photos set is posted here

I went up to Scenic Hot Springs today and found the gate still wide open. I did not see any of the locks nor the tang the locks were attached to. There was one car parked there and evidence of tire tracks of a narrower width than your truck (and fresh tracks) headed up the road. At the base of the lock post were several large caliber cartridges and pieces of metal that looked like they came from a lock. The assumption is that someone shot the lock off. I hiked on up after closing the gate and securing it with a piece of wood through the tang.

At the beginning of the BPA clearcut there were plenty of deep-tread 'mud/snow' tire tracks around. Certainly not your truck which has different tread. There were no vehicles further inside. That this was someone being stupid was shown by an off-road vehicle trying to drive up the narrow trail of the second bypass (tire tracks go up about 15 feet.). It's difficult to say whether they went any further
on up the BPA road, though there are a lot of tire tracks most of the way up.

Meadows creek is running very strong on both the trail and the BPA road. On the BPA road it is spalling the road surface and creating a second cut. The other creeks seem at the levels expected for spring runoff.

On the trail, there are several areas where the trail edge is sloughing on the downhill side . . . just before the Muddy Creek crossing (old trail and large stump). The log water bars are doing their job. A few leak underneath and I corrected water flows where needed. Rock alley is running pretty strong but should subside when the snow above is finally melted. Above rock alley, the springs near
the switchback are flowing strong. The waterbar below it is handling the flow and creating a new channel downslope.

There are still patches of snow a foot or more deep above the switchback. The flat area is still snow covered on up to the firering above the springs. There is earth slippage and sloughing on the trail right above the Bear Den spring sources. Also, the wooden retaining structure has dissembled and only remains upright (and at a cant) by the guy wires to the trees upslope.

Above the Lobster Spring sources there has been earth slippage by several trees and boulders that really concern me. There is another large granite boulder exposed that is perched precariously like the one Bob broke in half.

The bench area to the east of the pool is clear of snow and you can easily get to the construction stockpiles there. The pool, itself is in terrible shape and in need of scrubbing. Lobster Springs are running three to four times normal volume and cold (55F). These springs have been diverted away from the pool. We need to figure out the proper route to divert these springs when they run cold. Lots of
erosion going on.

Bear Den springs are both running hot (east at 102F, west at 103F) . . . the inlet tube at the pool at just over 100F. The water in the pool is filthy and green . . . warm but not getting enough recharge from Bear Den alone.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cleanup at Austin and Bagby Hot Springs May 20th

Note: has been a staunch supporter of Mike's efforts at Scenic as Mike has supported efforts to get Austin Hot Springs available to the public once again. If you find yourself in the Portland area . . . or just need an excuse to go down there, this is a worthy project. Bagby is a fine hot spring, and a chance to visit Austin does not comes often. Rick

From Ron at . . .

Hi all, on May 20th there will be an organized clean up up both Bagby and Austin Hot Springs, and the road and rivers in between.

It's a big undertaking, and we could use all the help we can get.

This might be the first organized group/public cleanup allowed by the Forest Service at Bagby since the Friends of Bagby days. All I know for sure is that there's a ton of stuff that needs to be picked up under the bath house.

We're not just cleaning things up. We'll be planting trees and pulling out weeds too.

Sign in is at 9am at the Estacada Ranger Station. Here's the link to the flier:

If you plan on going please let me know so I can buy you lunch. We'll be having a bbq after the cleanup.

Regards to one and all.


Clean Up Party on May 27th, 2006

There has been a lot of activity in dealing with the State and County departments during the winter and spring months. Among the things we've accomplished are a tentative understanding with the Health Department, an onsite evaluation for 'critical slopes' and 'wetland area' that went smoothly and a legal securing of the historic water rights to the hot springs. The concept for a re-born Scenic Hot Springs is getting closer and closer . . . thanks to the efforts of many wonderful people who have gone out of their way to prove beyond a doubt that Scenic Hot Springs has historical precedent.

Now that the snows are finally melting and the weather cooperating, it is time to turn our attention to one thorn in the county's side . . . namely all that construction material that was carried up to the spring site during the 90's and which sits there like an eyesore. To clear up the Oct 2001 Code Enforcement Action that resulted in Scenic being closed 4 1/2 years ago, removal of the construction debris is high on the county's list. We plan on making a major dent in it this month.

A clean up party is scheduled for the 27th of May (a Saturday) at 9:30AM. The plan is to meet at the gate and proceed on up from there. A limited number of vehicles will proceed further on up (depending on the condition of the road).

Tentative plans are to sort the material and burn the unusable (if a burn permit can be secured), save the good pieces for future construction (shower, latrine, stairs, etc.), and remove most everything else down to the lower area where a truck can pick up for disposal.

Afterwards, we will enjoy a soak and if lucky, a meal from Robert (The Naked Gourmet).

Keep the weather in mind. I plan to wear as little as possible.

  • Wear study boots (sneakers are not appropriate),
  • Have a good pair of work gloves
  • Bring appropriate clothing for the weather, practice layering
  • Bring plenty of water, especially if it is hot. There is no water available on site
  • Leave a change of clothes in your car or vehicle in case you get soaked
  • Snacks, what ever you like, but high carb is good; think about planning for a picnic lunch as I do; and think about something to share
  • Bring a towel for after the soak . . . no good hiking down the mountain wet!
  • A few band aids in your pocket. I will have a full-size first aid kit in my pack.


If I receive a good response, how about setting up group objectives like . . .

  1. A pool cleaning group to really refurbish the tub in advance for our long-awaited soak and sore muscles
  2. A BBQ team . . . hot dogs anyone? I have an easily toted portable grill . . . ideas? Let's not forget the marshmallows again this year . . . a bonfire just begs for marshmallows.
  3. The main grunt team (most of us) for the physically-able to move that material and sort through it

I think that covers it . . . the work, the food and the soak. I'm open to others . . .

Since the parking area before the gate can only accommodate about 6-7 cars, and the status of the road is unknown for 2-wd higher up, we will probably need to park the majority down near the railway tracks and ferry people up. Let me know of you capabilities in that regard.

I'll pass on other information as it becomes needed . . . just a heads up. Those that can make it, RSVP me. If you don't want to receive these notifications in the future, also please let me know.

Thanks in advance and see you at the gate on the 27th.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Snow Conditions at Scenic

There is still a lot of snow up at Scenic but this warm weather is melting it rapidly. I took a lot of photo's for Mike (109 to be exact) so I won't post them all here but you can peruse them at Flickr.

The springs are still running hot (Lobster at 111F and Bear Den at 100F). The pool was in terrible condition with a lot of dirt and green algae growth. I ran into seven young men soaking in the pool (in long baggy shorts, no less). These same men had parked rather dangerously on the access to the Forest Service road and I gave them the standard no-no warnings and then asked them to go about scrubbing out the pool and then siphoning it. They were nice enough about it that I let the trespassing thing pass after cluing them in on the status. Besides, they also had a trash bag to pick up stuff.

Snow averages 2-3 feet in most places with a few bare patches, most noticibly near creeks and springs. Better than last week but we still need warm weather to hasten this melt. In any case, enjoy the photos. Click on the title link to go to them.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Time for an update and a few observations

Pretty as the snow is, this is some treacherous stuff to walk through. I went up this past Sunday . . . not to soak . . . there were enough people up there already. I was on an inspection walk about to see how the BPA road was faring and also to get an idea of the snow conditions still remaining up at Scenic despite it being April already.

The ice berm is still firmly in place across the entrance of the forest service road. It's hard to tell but that's a good four feet of compacted and refrozen snow and ice . . . and it extends a good part of the way up the road.

Obviously, it will be some time before anyone parks here. I had toyed with the idea of getting some volunteers together to dismantle the berm but on second thought, that's a lot of ice and snow.

The only safe parking is in the sno-park area down the highway. On this particular Sunday afternoon, I also noticed several cars parked in the chainup area just east. I met the two couples coming out and after chastising them about hiking about in jeans and sneakers, wished them luck that a State Patrol officer hadn't come by and given them tickets . . . or had them towed (it's illegal to park your car in a chainup area for more than fifteen minutes).

The snow and ice is four feet deep at the entrance. It is not much less on the forest service road, itself. The gate horizontal sits three and a half feet off the road surface and the snow almost reaches it. Why go around when you can simply step right over the gate.

Fortunately, the snowshoers (prolly Kimba and company) have compacted a trail over this mess. Stay in it or you're going to find yourself 'postholing' right up to your crotch!

Stay in the tracks, obviously!

Here's the traps Mother Nature has laid for us. Erosion channels pepper the roads . . . some as much as two feet deep. But with two to three feet of evened out snow covering everything, you can't see these weakened spots on the snowpack (unless they've already collapsed like the one above.) As water (from new melt or the springs) weakens from beneath you have a mini-crevasse bridge just waiting to give way. They are no fun to fall into, besides getting soaking wet. I fell into one eight feet deep up in the Tunnel Creek area a couple of years ago. Thankfully I had a full change of clothing and nothing was broken or bruised except my aura on invincibility.

There are four major cuts on the upper BPA road (a running stream near the first tower, Main Creek, Meadows Creek and Honeymoon Creek). There are a number of minor ones as well so it is best to stick with the established track and probe ahead with a stick for soft spots and hidden mini-creavasses. I didn't take the trail on up to the springs (running out of time and daylight) but Bob informs me that the creeks are doing the same thing on the trail . . . and in some cases, running down the trail instead of across as we'd like. Bob and myself are going to attempt to redirect a few sometime this week.

Main Hot Spring Creek near the BPA road . . . which is what I went up there to check. Seems to fare fine. Honeymoon seems to be okay on the BPA segment as well but springs thaw will be the catcher on that.

Some observations: The springs are only a degree or two off but that doesn't surprise me as we haven't had any real snowmelt yet, and the cycle is usually around two weeks before melt is reflected in a drop in temperature.

The pool is in good condition thanks to Bob who keeps and eye on it. Someone has been messing with the sources again and if I catch whomever . . . well you catch the drift. The source connectors for Bear Den Springs are cracked and disconnected. They need replacement.

I was surprised at the number of people braving the deep snow to get up there. Some of you do not belong . . . not that I begrudge the attempt or desire. You simply are not dressed and prepared. Cotton Kills! Try to get that through your heads.

Finally, it seems the Ukranian Gang is back up to their tricks at the springs . . . taking over, bossing people around. I catch you guys up there and you can be guaranteed a visit from the sheriff! There have been too many compliants and I will not put up with any group attempting to usurp the owner and his guests from enjoying the place. Stay out!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Trip Report 2.27.06

I visited the springs this last Monday the 27th. The day started out partly cloudy with a little drizzle, and ended with increasing rain. The snow is pretty deep in places and required considerable effort to get to the top. I think going up it took us a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes. There were many times that we stepped into "soft" snow and sank to our thigh, which was an eerie feeling. We spent a couple hours at the top, and took a bunch of trash out with us. I was pretty frustrated at seeing some of the trash that was there. I won't go into details on the public forum, but suffice to say whoever did it is lucky I didn't catch them at it. Looking at the parking lot, road shoulder and trail, it appeared that noone had been there for at least 2 days. The human tracks that were on the trail were melted in and crusted over.

As we started to come down the trail around 4:15, it started raining a bit. Amazingly as we were coming down an 1/8th mile from the top of the springs, we passed a couple that was just going up! To say the least they were shocked to see us. Considering they were going up to the top at that time, they were not dressed for the conditions. The girl had on tennis style shoes with jeans/sweats, hat and a light jacket and no pack. They guy had on a bit heavier jacket with a small back pack. She looked at us, saw our snowshoes and said "Are THOSE snowshoes?" I indicated yes they were and asked if she came all the ways to the top dressed like that. She indicated she had, which was shocking considering the conditions. Considering the falling darkness, lack of total winter clothing, no obvious pack for winter conditions and the naivety of their endeavour I was quite frustrated. I didn't see their vehicle on the way out and got no license plate. If that were to happen to any of you given those circumstances what would you do/say? Would it have been appropriate to demand they turn back around? I know that by the time we got back to our vehicle, we were very wet and glad to change out of our clothes.

I took a digital thermometer to measure pool temps. They colder of the 2 was 98.7, and the warmer was 101.6. At the source coming out of the warmer tube it was above 109 and my thermometer maxed out.