Thanks to everyone who dropped by on the previous two cleanups at Scenic.  We made some major progress in clearing vegetation that was beginning to crowd the trail and at this last clean up, made a huge dent in organizing that large pile of debris left over from the destruction years ago.  For those of you who have been up to Scenic, that pile of rubbish left over from the county demolition was an eyesore, yet remained a quandary about just how to approach it . . . there is so much of it.  In the past we have encouraged volunteers to help out by moving bits at a time down the mountainside to a more easily approached staging area.  That has met with limited success.  The pile has actually grown larger from thoughtless individuals who considered it their personal dumping ground rather than pack their rubbish out.
However, we have organized the large pile into recyclables and non . . . metals, plastics, wood, etc; and neatened the whole thing up so that it does not seem like such and insurmountable mess after all.  Over the next few clean up parties we will start moving this stuff downward for disposal.

This tarp covers 20-30 rotting and now-rolled up and tied
(for easy carrying) old tarps from the past.

All the old plastic tubing has been neatly stacked

Metal debris . . . definitely recyclable.
Beside it all the Styrofoam block from the old tubs 

The campfire ring . . . the concrete steps moved as benches
moved back and the area cleaned up

The Boy Scouts also had a hand in helping Scenic out with their recent campout event.  The Scouts did a through garbage pickup of the property and then constructed a very welcome bench for hikers to rest for a moment on the trail up.  We thank the Scouts for their enthusiasm and contribution.  They are always welcome back.
The Scouts made this bench for us.  Sturdy and so simple!

Access to Scenic

Scenic Hot springs is private property and we have to keep reminding people of that fact of life.  Trespassers continue to be a problem at Scenic and it seems to be the same people and groups time after time that we encounter.  Most feign ignorance and swear they never knew . . . that they never saw the six separate No Trespassing/Posted/Private Property signs on the way up.  For the owner, this is a serious and continuing problem as final permitting is contingent of proving we can control access.
Night time visits, fires and camping are also proving to be difficult problems, requiring expensive cameras and random patrols by the stewards to control these activities.  We have had to involve the sheriff’s department and the Forest Service with increased patrols at least to the gate (and sometimes further up).  Again, this puts Scenic above the radar and threatens the possibility that progress can go forward.
The owner (and the stewards, Matt and Rick) have no problem with people enjoying the springs . . . as long as they ask first and get permission.  Your contributions, that should be going toward trail improvements and pools liners, is instead being used up in increased surveillance and patrolling.  This has caused us to set up new procedures for access to Scenic.

Advance Notice:

Except under extraordinary circumstances, we require at least two days advance notice of a request to visit Scenic Hot springs.  There is a Google connect button on the blog that may be used to ask general questions but not for reservations . . . use an email to to request access.
Not all requests are accepted.  We limit the max number of visitors per day to ten (10).  We also have to balance access with official activities such as contractors or inspectors.  At times we may close to springs for special events (such as the Boy Scouts), or clean up parties.
Exclusive Reservations:
Permission to visit Scenic does not offer you exclusive use of the hot springs.  It would be almost impossible and certainly unmanageable to assign one or two hour time slices for a visit.  Your reservation is for the daylight hours and you should expect that others may have also asked to visit on the same day.  The springs are communal and the best part about soaking . . . with others.
However, large groups may request an exclusive reservation at the expense of other requests by contributing at the $100 rate for weekdays (Monday through Friday) and $150 for weekends and holidays.
An unfortunate aspect of the remoteness and terrain of Scenic Hot Springs is that it is almost impossible to catch and turn away all the people who head up to the springs without permission (trespassing).  But it is getting better.  If you are comfortable with it, you may ask arrivals on your reserved day if they also have permission . . . or if uncomfortable, harassed or threatened in any way to call the steward’s phone number on your permission email (or 911 if it is an emergency).  We do ask that no one ever take matters into their own hands and kick trespassers out.  Do not put yourself at risk!  If your day is ruined we will try to make it up to you with another reservation.
A new tarp to line the pool costs $80.  We need two of them.  TrailCams cost upwards from $400 and we have several of them now.  Every work party costs money for supplies, tools, time.  Every time we replace a cut-open lock sets us back $35  plus the damage to the gate.  The owner has authorized us to collect a small fee to help offset these costs.
The contribution has been kept at $5 per person for the past year and will remain at that level for weekday visits.  Weekends have seen increased use and the suggested contribution is now $10 per person for weekend and holidays.  Exclusive reservations (for large groups) is $100 during the week (Monday through Friday) and $150 on weekends and recognized holidays.  An exclusive reservation may not always been granted if there is already a stated large interest in reserving a spot on that particular day.
Conditions of Access
If you’ve asked for access in the past then you are familiar with the Conditions of Access.  We are quite serious about those conditions and require everybody who goes onto Scenic property to accept and abide by those conditions before we will even consider access.
We will be redoing and re-posting of the Conditions of Access in a more readable and easier to download format in a few days.  The first step anyone should do before sending off an email to request access, is to download them and read the ‘conditions’.  In your email to us you should make the statement that you “have read and understand the Conditions of Access and all members of my group agree to abide by them.”
In a nutshell, the Conditions of Access require that you recognize the nature of the terrain and hot springs and absolve the owner and his representatives of any liability.  Without that agreement, no one gets on the property legally.
The conditions also proscribe (forbid) certain activities:

  • No night time use.  The deep canopy of the upper trail goes into darkness much earlier than official sunset. Historically, nighttime is when the problems arise and the reason for no nighttime use. Be off the trail before flashlights and headlamps become necessary.
  • No camping:  In a way, overnight campers are tempted to sneak into the pools or wander the trails in darkness.  The owner, thus, does not want camping to go on on his property.
  • No campfires or fires or any kind.  Scenic abuts National Wilderness Area and is completely surrounded by National Forest.  Fires are a very real danger in this area and Scenic is often in a proscribed burn ban area.
  • No dogs (or other pets).  We all love our dogs and want them to accompany us on the trail.  However, they present problems.  One is that they often are not under control and a nuisance to other soakers.  Two, irresponsible owners allow their dogs to do their thing wherever the want and threaten sensitive wetlands and the springs sources.  Third, there has been more than one scary encounter between a dog and the mama black bear that traverses the property from time to time.  Leave fido at home.
  • No weapons (guns, rifles, permit-carrying or otherwise) are allowed on Scenic property.
There are a number of other conditions so read the Conditions of Access.  Eventually, night use, camping, campfires and dogs will be relaxed as a responsible soaking population respects Scenic.  Most of these requirements are as a result of our negotiations with the County and the Forest Service.  As Scenic evolves into a good neighbor you will see a safer Scenic, soak while watching the jet-black nighttime sky and find tenting and established campfire rings for your enjoyment.  But none of this is going to happen if we can’t prove to the authorities that vandalism, rowdy behavior and trespassing is under control.  We ask for your help. 

Authority of the Stewards
Matt and myself (Rick) are the stewards of Scenic Hot Springs.  We have specific and legal authority to act in the owner’s behalf on matters concerning the day to day activities up at Scenic.  We also have a good and ongoing relationship with the King County Sheriff’s Deputy in Skykomish, the Bonneville Power Administration (through which their power lines run through the property), and the Rangers and Law Enforcement Officers of the Skykomish Ranger Station for the Mt Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest.
Our charge is to maintain the status-quo of Scenic Hot Springs to prevent deterioration of the existing springs and pools, and to deter potentially new behind-the-scenes construction.  We also seek to change the free-wheeling culture of the past to eliminate the reasons Scenic got closed down in the past.  As stewards and ambassadors, we try to build relationships with communities and authorities as we pursue those final permits.
We are not paid a stipend to watch over Scenic.  We do this because we believe Scenic is worth fighting for instead of the county’s initial idea of forever capping the springs with concrete.  We both have day jobs of our own and are often not able to be a Scenic all the time.  However, we do randomly visit and patrol two to three times a week, as well as organize and run the clean-up events.
Eventually, control of Scenic will pass to a paid caretaker living on-site.  That will be neither of us but there are no lack of volunteers.  When Scenic gets a full-time caretaker the fees for access will go up to pay those wages and maintain the springs.
The Next Work Party
Good, you’ve read this far …
The next clean up event will be this coming Wednesday, the 7th of September, 2011.  The weather promises to be kind to us this time with temps around the 80s.  We will attempt to get as much of the rolled up tarps and styrofoam down the trail as possible.
An additional goal is to prepare an area lower down on the trail for signage and an honor-box.
Rick will run this event.  If you can join, RSVP.  Detail in another posting.
Matt has promised a weekend cleanup party soon.  Watch for details here.
And thanks to all those responsible soakers that have made us feel much more optimistic about the future of Scenic.