Monday, May 14, 2007

Scenic Hot Springs Conditions

As requested, an update on the situation at Scenic

Scenic Hot Springs has just now become easily accessible and we will soon be entertaining 'officialdom' with site plans and more permit reviews in order to start layout and construction of three new natural rock pools to replace the artificial structures that existed in the past (including the still-existing Monster Tub. After three years of negotiation the permits are in review and hopefully we feel we have addressed all the issues of concern . . . sanitation, safety, critical slopes and wetlands, and emergency access. At this stage, we await those pending permit decisions.

With the snowmelt and a new season upon us, there is little we can do short of keeping the site and surrounding areas clean, and taking prudent proactive measures to control erosion . . . until the issue of BPA culverts is solved. So expect a few clean-up parties in the next few weeks. Those who participate will get the opportunity to enjoy a soak legally as part of the deal.

Other than that, I've had my hands full handling the few problems we have had at Scenic from unwelcome visitors (of the two-legged kind). Remember that the springs are on private property and the owner (and his reps) will challenge anyone up there without permission. While we are in these sensitive permit reviews, county and state inspectors could be up there at any time (hopefully inspecting and not soaking on taxpayer time and money). The last thing we need to happen is an incident between inspectors and a drunken bunch of partiers to nix a permit! I need to know when I escort them up that I know who is on site and whether or not they are authorized.

Please respect the private nature and sensitive situation of the springs. I promise you that if the owner is successful you will have one gem of a natural hot springs to enjoy.

The rest of this report deals with my last visit to the springs to check on conditions and clean-up the site.

Friday, May 11th, 2007 Springs Visit

The pools after cleaning and starting the refill. Please, KEEP THEM CLEAN!!!!

Pool Temperatures as of
May 11th, 2007 @ 4 PM

Conditions: Clear skies, 68F @ Pools; Patches of snow on the upper trail above Main Creek crossing. FS850, BPA Road and lower trail are snow free. As predicted, some enterprising soul has chainsawed the tree blocking access to FS850.

Spring Source
East #1 (Lobster Upper): 78.3F, Flow: 18 gpm (measured)
East #2 (Lobster Lower): 58F, disconnected from feed tube Upper feed tube is redirected around pool.
West #1 (Bear): 110.3F
West #2 (Bear): 111.4F, Combined Flow: 6.8 gpm (measured)

Pool Temperatures:
Lobster Half: Inlet 77F (diverted from pool), Pool 97.9F
Bear Den Half: Inlet 109.3F, Pool 101.7F

The Lobster sources have gone cold as predicted from the increased snow melt; while the Bear sources have notched up a degree or two. Both sources show increased flow rates. Lobster, at 77F, is too cold to feed the combined pool, so has been diverted around the tub. The second fracture at the source is now active and supplying most of the colder water to Lobster. Bear is just enough to provide a pleasant soak with two different temperatures that suit the ambient weather.

Previous Lobster flow was 15gpm with the second fracture dry. The additional 3gpm is coming cold from the previously dry fracture and tempering the original spring source . . . (FlowhotTemphot + FlowcoldTempcold)/(Flowhot + Flowcold)= Tempfinal. Calculating backwards, that additional little cold flow is having an enormous mixing effect on the temperature of the original Lobster source, which is still running in the 90s! Unfortunately, the mixing is taking place where we can't easily get at it to correct this do-gooder's 'improvement'. That's what we get when someone goes messing around with the spring sources with a chisel!!!

Water Quality Without the added flow of Lobster, Bear springs is barely enough to turn over the water adequately . . . especially when someone keeps removing the small pool-bottom siphon (the green hose). Algae quickly builds up on the lower portions of the pool, which gets little turnover. The weir dams were heavily coated with a half-inch thick coating of algae that also builds up on the concrete outside of the tub under the overflows. The two halves of the tub were in bad need of some serious cleaning. I completely drained the pools, removed the pool divider and spent the next two hours scrubbing the slippery algae coating off the interior and exterior pool surfaces. The liner is showing increasing areas of wear and will probably have to be replaced sometime this soaking season.

Site Conditions There has been more earth slippage on the trail above the Bear Den sources. Step carefully around this area or preferably, take the latrine access trail. The litter problem was very heavy. I removed four 33gal trash bags of beer bottle, cans, liquor bottles, clothing, towels, food wrappers, candles and assorted other garbage from the site.

Notes The tree across FS850 has been cut up. At first I thought the Forest Service but I later found out one of the visitors took it upon himself to cut up the tree to make it easy for people. Next time, pay attention and notify me or Mike first. You need a permit to go cutting fallen trees on Forest Service property and that tree was tagged for a timber permit. I was aware of that and perfectly willing to let the tree sit until we needed access. Whomever did the cutting, I suggest you don't admit to it.

While I worked on cleaning and oiling the lock to the gate, the owners of several cars (and one motor scooter) arrived from their unauthorized visit. I didn't recognize any of them and one couple was downright obnoxious when informed that the springs are closed and on private property. I didn't even bother to ask if they'd like to volunteer and earn the right to visit. Didn't seem the type. Fortunately, I have pictures of their vehicles.

The forest service road is completely snow free and in real good shape. There is a fallen tree snag near the BPA clearcut, but easily driven around. The first hiker's bypass is also clear and in good shape.

Likewise, the BPA Road and clearcut is also snow free. The upper BPA road shows some moderate to significant erosion but is 4WD HC drivable . . . in fact, someone has recently driven up the road, though which of the volunteers with keys I don't know. Near the top immediately short of the Honeymoon Creek BPA road cut, a large boulder has come to rest in the center of the road. It can be driven around but will take two or more people to safely move this boulder out of the way.

Lower down, I cleared out the culvert grates of the Main Springs creek crossing, and of the BPA Springs. Shoring up of the basin around the intake of the culvert was necessary. Where Meadows Creek crosses the BPA road, there is heavy flow but erosion is under control.

The trail, itself, is in good shape. The water bars are doing their job. Melt runoff continues to come down Rock Alley. The snow begins just above . . . patchy but unavoidable. The snow is soft, wet and slippery . . . but will soon be gone. Most of the snow is from the switchback area to just short of the short path above the Bear Den sources . . . the result of remaining mostly in shade. The latrine bypass trail (the original and one of the historic trails) is snow free. Due to earth slippage in the route above the springs, I recommend taking this bypass trail.

As the condition report noted, the pools were in terrible shape and needed serious cleaning; which I did. There is also a lot of irresponsible partying going on up here late at night with dozens of beer bottles (Blond Ale?), a full bottle of Schnapps, a half full bottle of Jaggermeister, various articles of clothing, food wrappers, uneaten food, a half-dozen melted candles and lots of cigarette butts. The site was filthy and a lot of that garbage was in the pools, themselves. Have you ever stepped bare-footed on a bottle cap. The pool was full of bottle caps and I managed to step on one and cut my foot. So, my unauthorized friends, I have no sympathy for you! All in all, I made two "up the mountain-down the mountain" trips to drag four trash bags full of garbage away!

Used Pampers!!!! That means babies, unless you have a control problem yourself. Do not take babies up to the hot springs to soak. It is both dangerous for the child (babies have undeveloped control of body heat), and dangerous to the pool waters (babies have bowel control problems . . . which is why they wear Pampers).

A young lady's spandex top left on a rock near the top of Rock Alley

What surprises me is the amount of clothing I found discarded on the side of the trail. Are people stripping off their clothes on the way up or down? I'm all for a nude hike (especially after a hot soak), but throwing away perfectly good clothes? Come on . . . take your laundry home . . . don't leave it to rot on the mountainside!

The difficulty, of course, is controlling access by these irresponsible people. I would like to catch them in the act but I really don't have time to sit by in the evening hours. Perhaps the sources need to be secured and shut down. I know I piss a lot of visitors off by draining the pools in the late afternoon . . . at the present flow rates it takes hours to refill those pools. But I can't be up there everyday. So we're going to be looking at other alternatives.

In the coming weeks, while we wait on permit decisions, I'm thinking of setting up a clean-up party . . . with the idea of litter pickup at the gate area and alongside the BPA road and trail. This is to be a mini-cleanup so if anyone wants to join in, contact me. The bonus is enjoyment of the springs for the rest of the day after the cleanup. Contact me if you want to participate.

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