It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog on the situation at Scenic. This will be a quick and dirty update as time is at a premium right now as I catch up from vacation time.
This is the newly partitioned Lobster side of the tub.
The hot springs are running toasty hot as of last weekend. The Monster Tub has been relined with a new tarp (thanks Bob and Matt) and partitioned into two separate tubs . . . one warm-hot (around 105) and perfect for summer soaking, and the other very hot (115F) for a brief immersion to relax sore muscles.
There is some activity taking place with the slow removal of some of the concrete as required by the county but active work on the site is in abeyance while we pursue talks with the county on permits. The status of the permits is sensitive and often confusing . . . certainly very expensive. Eventually we hope that all parties can come around to an agreement. Meanwhile, please be considerate to our need to maintain a low profile at Scenic . . . especially while these negotiations are taking place. It may seem that nothing is happening at Scenic but believe me, there is a lot going on in the background.
Night time soaking conditions against our explicit wishes, as does the building of fires. Those who insist of these activities peril our chances of getting permits . . . and worse, a smoky fire might elicit a fire lookout response. I photograph every vehicle I come across down below and if I ever catch someone building a fire on the Scenic property you can be sure you will be banned for good from Scenic (if not prosecuted for trespass and building illegal fires).
Trash on the downhill bench off the gate is also a huge problem. Though the gate is National Forest land, the rangers and LE all know that it is the visitors to Scenic that are leaving this trash behind. Hot spring lovers are supposed to revere nature yet it seems that reverence seems to disappear once the springs have been left behind. Please, wait until you get back home before you empty your trash.
Last Wednesday I almost had to use my Bear Spray on a particularly obnoxious person whom insisted that the springs belonged to the people and he was going to soak no matter what I had to say. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that but assaults, verbal or otherwise are not going to stop me from challenging people who do not have permission or do not belong up at Scenic.
Just to reiterate, we want to reopen Scenic legally to the public . . . offer Scenic in as natural a state as possible. I have seen and assisted in the plans and the artist’s renditions are beautiful. While they remain tentative and under review by the county I can tell you that we envision several rock pools (we call them ponds) situated at the present site, and little of anything else to detract from the pristine beauty of the Scenic mountainside and views. A proper latrine, a changing place, perhaps a natural hot spring shower, and equipment shed . . . along with improvements to the trail. Scenic Hot Springs was always considered a ‘hiker’s’ hot spring . . . and we will do little to make access too easy and over-run the site with visitors who will not make the effort to reach it. The hike up is as much a part of the experience as is the rewarding soak afterward.
Remember, Scenic is on private property and you can’t simply hike on in there without permission. While in this stage of permitting access is loosely controlled because we simply do not have to time to intercept everybody heading on up there. Put simply, Scenic is not open to the public. Unless you have explicit permission you are trespassing. If you are caught heading up or soaking in the springs you will be challenged.
There are six types of access to Scenic:
- The owners prerogative and those who work with him on a continuous basis. We maintain the site, check on conditions, work the on-going things that need to be done just to prevent the site from falling into disrepair. We assist Mike in the planning processes and represent his interests. The number is few and far between . . . I can count them on the fingers of one hand: Mike (the owner), myself (Rick), Matt and Bob. We have unrestricted access to Scenic in order to do our jobs. The King County Sheriff’s Department and emergency personnel also have unrestricted access to Scenic (as well as keys to the gate).
- Bureaucratic Access: Contractors and those bidding on potential work, consultants, geotech and wetlands engineers, on-site inspections by federal, state and county officials. Since National Forest and Wilderness surround Scenic on all four sides, Forest Service personnel have reasonable access to the site, as do BPA personnel maintaining the power transmission lines through the property. When these people are on site it is inappropriate and unfavorable for free-loading soakers to be attempting to use the hot springs.
- Volunteer Access: Those who participate in a minimum number of clean-up/work parties each year are rewarded with a ‘permission card’ to enjoy the hot springs on a ‘check first’ basis when nothing is on-going. Having a permission card does not give the holder carte’ blanc to soak anytime they wish. They must still check that no official activities are taking place that their presence might jeopardize.
- Advance Request and Donation: We do not want to keep respectful soakers away but we cannot simply open the gates. Volunteers have earned their ‘rights’. However, if you ask respectfully in advance for a specific date, we will probably say ‘yes’. Making a donation simply is good karma . . . you get to soak and we have some extra money to pay for trash bags to cart out the messes left by the irresponsible.
- Caught on the Trail Sneaking In: Attitude says it all. If you pass muster (hey, guess what? A gaggle of teenagers heading up near nightfall with cases of beer and boomboxes is not going to go over good), then Mike might say yes. He’ll probably either ask you to do some work cleaning something up or ask for $10 from each person. So will I. You are trespassing and freeloading . . . so pay up.
- No Access: Believe it or not, the list is growing. The aforementioned young adults with beer, etc. will be scolded and asked not to come back. So will anyone with an attitude, building fires, or carrying weapons. If you cause problems you will be banned and if found back on the property . . . well, you can deal with the deputy. We will press charges.
- Ask Permission First (and be prepared for ‘No’): Don’t assume that because it’s in the wilderness (or because someone says it’s public or free) that it is okay. It is not. Scenic is private property and what happens at Scenic affects whether it will ever open legally to the public anytime soon.
- Pack Your Trash Out, and then some: Yeah, sure, I know it’s just too much effort to carry that empty plastic water bottle back with you but try to find the strength . . . if not the integrity. While you’re at it pick up the candy wrapper, your cigarette butts and assorted wet clothing you just couldn’t be bothered with taking home. Carry a plastic bag with you and do your part in keeping Scenic clean.
- Expect Nudity But Not Lewdity! The tradition of soaking is clothing-optional so you are going to see people nude in the pools (and often on the trails). Wearing clothing in the hot spring pools kind of defeats the experience of the soothing waters and your clothing can actually add soaps and residuals to the water that many of us are trying to avoid. Your nude, rinsed-off body is much cleaner that sweaty clothing. Nude is not lewd. Lewd behavior will absolutely not be tolerated.
- No Nighttime Soaking: Maybe sometime in the future when Scenic has established a good record and the respect of the authorities. Too many accidents happen in darkness; too many unfavorable activities take place. For now (assuming you have permission), please be off the mountain well before sunset.
- No Fires: Two years ago a soaker’s smoky campfire was spotted by a fire lookout. The generated response was two aircraft flyovers, sheriff and Forest Service vehicles at the gate and some poor, hapless firefighter’s who had to trudge up the mountainside with all their gear looking for a brush fire . . . only to find a campfire near the pools. That does not look good in the incident reports. Permits are required for any fires to be built on the property. Do not build any!!!!
- No Camping, No Dogs, No Firearms, No Glass Containers, No ATVs or Cycles: Respect those restrictions. I’ll be more than happy to explain them to you if you still do not understand why.
Meanwhile, do you best to respect the difficulties of reopening Scenic. It is not easy, takes time to muddle through the bureaucracy, and is very expensive. Do your part.