Thursday, September 14, 2006

NAC Action Alert: Olympic Hot Springs

Copyright 2006 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible for its content. Permission is granted for the posting, forwarding or redistribution of this message, provided that it is reproduced in its entirety and without alteration.

DATE: September 14, 2006
SUBJECT: Washington: Olympic Hot Springs
TO: Naturists and other concerned citizens

Dear Naturist,

This is an Action Alert from the Naturist Action Committee concerning an important situation at Olympic National Park in the state of Washington.

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is considering significant changes to Olympic National Park, which is located on the Olympic Peninsula in Clallam County in far northwest Washington. Some of the proposed changes involve Olympic Hot Springs, a popular soaking spot for naturists. Unless the Park Service plan is modified through public outcry, the likely result will include complete removal of the soaking pools at the Springs.

Please read this entire NAC Action Alert before taking action. NAC is asking you to:
1) send specific comments to the Park Service concerning the Plan.
2) become part of a local support team for Olympic Hot Springs.


To coordinate the proposed changes, the Park Service has developed a 400-page draft of a new General Management Plan. Park Service planners have come up with four versions of management scenarios for Olympic National Park. Those range from Alternative A, which involves the least change, to Alternative D, which is the management scheme preferred by NPS.

The Naturist Action Committee assesses it to be quite unlikely that NPS will ultimately select Alternative A, the so-called "no action" option. Alternatives B, C and D all involve the "rehabilitation" of the Olympic Hot Springs site. That's Park-speak for complete removal of the manmade soaking pools located there.


Olympic Hot Springs is actually made up of 21 natural hillside seepages that drain into Boulder Creek, a tributary of the Elwha River. Sometimes called Boulder Hot Springs or Triple 21 Hot Springs, the springs flow year round and are a longtime traditional spot for clothing-optional use. The temperature of the seepages ranges to 138 degrees F, but the seven manmade rock-and-mortar soaking pools that collect the spring water stay at about 105 degrees.

In the early 1900s, a resort existed at the site of Olympic Hot Springs. Public works projects in the 1930s improved the road that runs nearby. The resort buildings suffered from fire, weather and lack of maintenance, and were dismantled in 1972. The road remains in fair condition.

The Naturist Action Committee has conferred extensively with several Park Service managers responsible for Olympic National Park, and for Olympic Hot Springs, specifically. The nudity that's customary at the springs is not a particular problem, and isn't even mentioned in the draft of the General Management Plan.

However, there are two important concerns about the site that are shared by Park Service managers and responsible naturists, alike. The first of those is sanitation. The existing number and arrangement of the soaking pools at Olympic Hot Springs limits the natural beneficial effect of flow-through cleansing. The result is that unhealthy levels of fecal coliform and other contamination are allowed to accumulate, especially in the lower pools.

A second major concern is an undesirable cumulative impact on the local environment. NPS proposes to mitigate local impact by removing the soaking pools altogether.

Naturists familiar with the spring say the best solution does not fit neatly into any of the four pre-packaged alternatives.


The Naturist Action Committee is involved in ongoing discussions with Olympic National Park management and with local naturists who are knowledgeable about hot springs in the Pacific Northwest and about Olympic Hot Springs specifically. NAC's special thanks go to Rick Pierdes, whose valuable insight has helped shape this NAC Action Alert.

NAC has proposed specific amendments to the General Management Plan that's presently under consideration.


The Naturist Action Committee is asking you to do TWO things:

1) Send a pertinent comment on the Management Plan to Park Service managers.

2) Become involved with a hands-on group specifically supporting Olympic Hot Springs.


NAC is asking ALL NATURISTS and other concerned individuals to write, regardless of where you live. The area at issue is U.S. public land being administered as a National Park. This is a matter that affects us all. The deadline for submitting comments is September 30, 2006.


You must make your comments in writing. Phone calls are not sufficient for the purpose of building the permanent record that will be used to gauge public interest and sentiment.

The deadline for submitting comments is September 30, 2006. Please send your comments to any ONE of the destinations below.

by letter:
Carla McConnell
Olympic National Park — GMP
National Park Service
Denver Service Center — Planning
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225

or by fax:
NPS Denver Service Center
(303) 969-2736

or by Web site form:

or by e-mail:

Key points to remember when writing:

1. Identify yourself. Give your name and address. Anonymous correspondence is generally disregarded.

2. Be brief and polite.

3. Write clearly and specifically that you believe NONE of the four proposed alternatives adequately addresses Olympic Hot Springs.

4. Write clearly that you support the following three key amendments that have been suggested to Park Service management by the Naturist Action Committee:

A. Retain soaking at Olympic Hot Springs, but reduce the number of pools at the Springs site to three or four, located near the main source. This will improve cleanliness by offering less restriction to flow. It will help rehabilitate the runoff area, reduce the impact of use and enhance the integrity of the environment.

B. Contract the maintenance of the resource to an experienced caretaker. This approach has been implemented with great success by other agencies responsible for managing hot spring resources in the Pacific Northwest.

C. Convert the road (Olympic Hot Springs Road) to a trail beyond the Altair site. This is similar to an item proposed in Alternative B of the draft of the General Management Plan.


Here are some additional points to consider:

1. Clothing-optional use at traditional sites in the park is an environmentally friendly, low impact use of the resource.

2. Naturists are responsible stewards of public lands.

3. "Rehabilitation" of Olympic Hot Springs does not require that the resource be made unusable for those seeking remote recreational experiences. Other details of Alternative D, the NPS-preferred plan, accommodate traditional uses, and the traditional use at Olympic Hot Springs should be among those that are retained.


Local solutions depend on local support! Naturist Action Committee Area Representative Howard Williamson has stepped forward to head up a volunteer group for the specific support of Olympic Hot Springs. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, NAC encourages you to become personally involved with this important effort.

Contact Howard by e-mail:
or contact NAC board member Mark Storey:


Additional information and links are available, along with this NAC Action Alert on the Web site of the Naturist Action Committee.

Select "Alerts" and find this NAC Action Alert under Current Alerts. The NAC Web resources include the complete text of the draft General Management Plan for Olympic National Park, as well as map data and links to other resources.


The Naturist Action Committee is a volunteer nonprofit organization that exists to advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America. Fighting for the clothing-optional recreational use of public land is expensive. To do its job, NAC relies entirely on the voluntary generosity of supporters like you. To donate to NAC, use the address below

PO Box 132
Oshkosh, WI 54903

Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation:

Thank you for choosing to make a difference.


Mark Storey
Board Member
Naturist Action Committee

Naturist Action Committee (NAC)
- PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton -
Board Member Mark Storey -
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick -

Clothing-Optional Beach in the Cascades?

I just got back from a few days in the Cascades on an extended camping/backpacking trip. Most of the time was spent on technical backpacking . . . including a trip to Benchmark Mountain and Saddle Gap. Base was a campground that is central to the trails in the area and is just plain fun and enjoyable to be at. Especially on weekdays after Labor Day when the campgrounds get emptied out. I had the entire place to myself and spent all of it in the nude. The only thing I missed was the ability to light a good campfire because of the fire ban. Ah well . . .

The technical hike isn't important. I still did not find the cache I was looking for and with freezing levels all of a sudden dropping from 12,000 ft to 4,000 ft I think Benchmark might be off the radar for the rest of this hiking season . . . at least in the nude. What I want to share with you now is a little secret about this campground that few know about, simply because it does not show from any road or map or aerial photo. You have to go wandering off from the campground to discover that the wide floodplain of the North Fork of the Skykomish River above the FS 65 bridge has sand . . . and lots of it!

You don't see if from within the campgrounds and dare say, few bother to wander far from those grounds, as nice as they are on a warm, late-summer evening. But crossing a minor water obstacle . . . a slow-moving creek and a wash of bowling-ball-sized river rocks you come to this wide avenue of hot sun-baked sand in a straight line that at first makes you think it must be a road long abandoned . . . and then you realize there are two more just like it running parallel with stunted tree growth. You're in the ancient flood plain of the North Fork. Looking back, you realize none of this is visible from the bridge and the more popular campsite below it . . . and there is no obvious reason nor route for a lazy camper to even want to head up that way.

From your camping area . . . yes . . . but only for the exploring types. There are a few footprints but not many. Temptation is to lose the shoes as well and enjoy the sand barefoot. After a hundred yards or less the wash opens up onto the wide floodplain. The Skykomish is low at this time of year and most of the river bed is exposed. Brush and foliage have attempted to make a comeback but for the most part the wide and flat valley is as wide as any stretch of the river downstream. You step out onto the dry river rock plain to the pleasant gurgle of the river . . . no more than thigh deep at it's deepest. The sun bakes down on you like you rarely feel in the valleys of the Cascades where shade filters everything. With the blaze of sun is a constant and sometimes frisky breeze funneling into the wide valley mouth from down south. The combination is perfect.

So is the scenery. For someone who likes to hike, I can get remarkably claustrophobic under dark canopy. That's why I prefer to hike ridges. Rarely does an alpine river valley present itself so openly.

Then there's the sand. Lots of boulders but there are countless patches of sand to make dozens of little mini-beaches with no feeling of being hemmed in at all. And the sand isn't an afterthought . . . it is inches deep and succulent to sit down on.

There is no insect problem with the breezes. There is just this wonderful warmth and open sky.

In the three days I spent camping and enjoying this beach after a long trek to higher places, I never once saw another person. That I missed them is for sure . . . the campfire rings on the beach tell me that I'm not the only other person that knows about this place. But the cleanliness also tells me that it is not overrun by too many. I find the combination a good indicator of an acceptable place to enjoy some extended sun-soaking.

On the afternoon before I broke camp I did a hike further up the river for about a mile or so. Had to ford the river three times where it did crazy bends in the current channels. Beyond the first ford the sand deposits where more pronounced and undisturbed. Though the ford isn't difficult, thigh-high freezing cold water is enough to deter most people. Cul d' sacs everywhere for undisturbed sun tanning.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Nude Hiking with the Bare Minimum

Often when I do a short one or two mile hike I will carry the absolute minimum so that I get the greatest enjoyment out of my hike. In winter time I carry a full pack with extra clothing and all the survival supplies (yes, I do hike nude in winter, snow notwithstanding), on camping trips a rather heavy pack with everything weighed to the ounce. Summer and I'm usually hiking with some sort of fanny pack to maximize the sunlight on my body. But sometimes I just want to hike nude . . . or as nude as it is reasonably safe to do so.

In the image about I'm only wearing or carrying three things (we'll ignore the watch and wrist band). They are my signature Floppy Blue Hat, a set of flip-flops (rather than my hiking shoes) and a small sling bag that I normally carry my coffee or spare water in. Only, that bag is just perfect to carry the cars keys and maybe a few other small items in. At first it was a pair of shorts in case I needed to cover up. But I'm getting pretty good at 'baring' it with a grin when I meet other hikers on the trail. I've taken to leaving my shorts back at the car when I head off on these short hikes.

I think there is a certain empowerment in leaving the crutch of clothes behind. I walk away from the supposed safety of them and now I have to be me . . . I have to have the wherewithall to handle an encounter on the trail without covering up because I don't have anything available to cover myself up with.

You kind of reach an epithany when you are hiking on a trail like that. Doesn't matter whether you will encounter someone or not. It's theknowledge that if you do you're going to have to deal with it in other ways than hurriedly pulling out a pair of shorts and covering up.

These types of hikes make me feel the freeset of all. My whole skin is alive and breathing in every sensation around me. Summer is ending and so are these kinds of hikes until next year (unless I win the lottery and take a long-earned vacation to New Zealand or Australia . . . someplace warm).

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Fire Burn is in Effect during the Labor Day Weekend

Effective Midnight, Monday, August 28, 2006, open campfires are banned on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, except in designated Forest Service campgrounds. This restriction also applies to all Wilderness areas managed in whole or part by the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

A campfireless weekend ahead

If you're headed for the wilderness this Labor Day weekend, forget about a campfire.

Because of increased fire danger, the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest joined Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, and the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests in banning all campfires except in designated campgrounds. Bring a stove, and watch it carefully.

In addition, the entire Naches Ranger District east of Yakima in the Wenatchee National Forest has banned all campfires, including those in established campgrounds.

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:

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