Friends of Cougar News archive 2003


By Greg Thorne

Wednesday 12/31/03: Pools are warm. We didn't get all that rain that was expected. We did rcv 3 inches of beautiful snow. Bring your camera. Road not plowed past the dam, so front wheel drive or better advised. Chains would work after the dam.

Monday 12/29/03: We had an inch rain in the last 24 hours, 3" in this storm that will end tonight. Today even the top pool is barely warm. Tomorrow may be better because it will be sunny and dry. But rain and snow is forecast (50% chance daily) for Wednesday through Jan 7, so I don't expect the pools will be warm enough for soaking until after Jan 8. There is also the problem of a few inches of heavy snow on the 8 miles FS 19 approach to Cougar. I will update this page if conditions change.

Sunday 12/28/03: Snow on the FS 19 road approaching Cougar. You will need 4-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive and an expert snow driver will also suffice. It was beautiful to see it snowing at the Hot Springs for much of yesterday. It is now 34-degrees in Blue River (1am) and it will surely drop below freezing before dawn. There may be more snow during the day today. Additional snow may mean that only 4-wheel drive vehicles can safely navigate the road unless you have chains. Anyone with chains should do fine unless snow or ice increase dramatically. It has been busy at Cougar at times during the last couple days. 23 people soaking on average Friday and about 14 average Saturday . The top 3 pools are warm. The parking lot was full by 2pm Friday.

Friday 12/26/03: Happy Kwanzaa today. Christmas Day at Cougar was wonderful.

Cougar afterdark. I have an idea for how to do it legally. Ask the Forest Service to honor $100 Cougar Night passes. Good for a year. That way the holder of the pass agrees not to leave any litter behind and be responsible for their own safety. After we demonstrate success with this program we can subsequently ask for a lower price, say $50. Next we'll ask to have annual passes honored at night, and then ultimately the day passes. Your thoughts?

Merry Christmas!  Happy Chanukah!!  Happy Kwanzaa!!!

Wednesday 12/24/03: The forecast is rain all week. Snow Monday and Tuesday.

On Christmas Day, Venus will be joined by the crescent moon. As the sky darkens (especially between 5:45 and 6:15 p.m.), these two brilliant celestial objects will stand side by side in the southwest, a beautiful cosmic duo.

Some people may be wondering why they haven't gotten any email from Friends of Cougar. Quite simply, I don't have a list manager. If there was a real crisis, I could compile a mailing list in about 15 minutes, because I've saved everyone's info that they've submitted. But the list would quickly get out of date. Not to worry, there are List programs out there, and with a half hour of work I could select and get one up and running. I think the news section works fine, though, and I can hear from you if you just send me an email.

I thought of an issue yesterday. BTW, there continues to be a light crowd. Only about 3-5 of us there yesterday afternoon on average.

The issue is that sign above the cold stream. It reads "Please stay off the hillside, the plants are fragile." No question the plants are fragile, but the signs is an eyesore. It doesn't seem that people follow the request anyway, as you can tell from how worn the two trails are that go up the hillside. I want to suggest that we remove the sign. I can even save the sign in case we want to put it back (if hillside erosion becomes a problem). Your thoughts?

I switched to a members-only format because almost no one was joining. We get about 100 visitors daily to, more than the hot springs themselves. Yet, only about 100 people joined in the last 2 years. If we had a FS crisis, that wouldn't cut it. When they tried to ban nudity in '98, I had only a month to mobilize. Back then I had 300 people on the mailing list (most of whom have moved by now), mounted a nationwide campaign involving ANNR and The Naturists, and we still barely convinced the FS to back down. It takes A LOT of public outcry to stop those folks. They are not elected officials and have a poor record of listening. Witness the problem at Bagby. Dave Bybee, former VP of Friend of Bagby couldn't even get a reply from the Forest Supervisor. Member of Congress Darlene Hooley had little success in getting action either. We did eventually prevail (I say we because I helped, setting up the site as a central location for info) thanks in part to the Sierra Club and the tireless efforts of Dave Bybee. The trail urbanization was abbreviated, saving the forest from a motorcycle grade path and perhaps a hundred thousand dollars.

The Pictures area has been enhanced with new pictures added. In fact, you can see that sign in the 4th picture.

Monday 12/22/03: Next full moon: Tuesday night Jan 6.

Here's an idea: Cougar radio. Live talk 24/7. Metaphysical or other insights. Of course, for the benefit of us listening at home, they could also tell us the weather and water conditions, how crowded, if the cops arrive. Emergencies could be to 911 in seconds.

Sunday 12/21/03: Happy winter solstice. It's a gorgeous day. There is no snow on the approach to Cougar.  It's beautifully sunny with blue skies. This afternoon there was a light crowd. Only 10-15 people on average. I enjoyed meeting Kelly and Nathan.

Saturday 12/20/03: Dry weather today, high about 49. Pools are perfect. Sunset 4:33pm. Winter Solstice Sunday. Very few people this afternoon, 6-10 on average. I enjoyed meeting Stan and later Ridian and Sherry of Portland. I took a dozen or more pictures. Ridian took a picture of me, and I'm going to send them a couple I took. Stan said he'd teach me to survive in style in the desert. Other friends there were Brian of Seattle and Keith, Christine and Thea of Eugene. They also brought friends Jessica and Luna (17 mos). Stan had his darling dog Rudy with him. I'll be posting pictures of Rudy soon.

Thursday 12/18/03: A beautiful, sunny day. This morning iMcKenzie came online.

Tuesday 12/16/03: Dry weather has warmed the top pools nicely. They are back above 100 degrees.

Saturday 12/13/03: Cougar pools are too cold and not unusable today. The intense rain we've had has chilled the pools, and none are warm. I expect tomorrow will also be cold pools as the rain is forecast to continue for at least the next 24 hours.

Thursday 12/11/03: Pools continue to be cooler. They are warm and pleasant. Top pools about 103, pool 2 about 100. We've had nearly 6 inches of rain since Thanksgiving. November through January is the rainiest period with an average of 8 inches each month. Sunset this week is the earliest of the year - 4:30pm.

Nudity threatened at Saline Warm Springs

Saturday 12/6/03: Pools have cooled considerably with recent rain. The first 3 pools are warm, but not hot.

Monday 11/24/03:  A young man lost a gold wedding ring in pool 2 or 3 Saturday evening. Please contact Lost & Found if you find it. Thanks.

Wednesday 11/19/03: It's snowing this afternoon at Cougar.

Tuesday 11/18/03: Pools are slightly cooler from the 1.65" rain over the past 3 days.

Tuesday 11/11/03: We've had a half-inch of rain since early Monday morning. Clouds blocked viewing of the lunar eclipse Saturday night. News on trail fees. Person to contact to express your opinions on this: Congress member Peter DeFazio

Thursday 11/6/03: Full moon Saturday night with sunset at 4:50pm.

Sunday 11/2/03: Rare early snow this morning at Cougar. It's snowing!

Wednesday 10/29/03:  Sunset at 5pm tonight.

Saturday 10/25/03:  Aurora borealis tonight

Friday 10/24/03: A sunny, warm weekend is the forecast.

Wednesday 10/22/03: Despite recent rains, the pools are still just as hot. The top 6 pools are all very pleasantly warm to hot. Sunset is at 6:15pm. Starting next Sunday, sunset will be one hour earlier due to the "fall back" to standard time.

Tuesday 10/7/03: Despite 1/4" of rain overnight, pools are just as hot. See the new pool temps page, linked above. Waterfall shower is excellent. For an hour this afternoon around 5pm, I was the only one there. When I first arrived I met Smith Rock climbers Sylvia, Andy and Diane and I enjoyed chatting with them in pool 5. Andy has been here 2 1/2 weeks from Leeds, England. Here's here only to rock climb. Erin and Taryn from Wisconsin whom I have spent time with at Cougar a few times recently were enjoying pool 3. I think there was perhaps only one other person there.


Thursday 10/2/03: Conditions are good at Cougar. Pools are hot and the cold water to the bucket has an adequate flow. The waterfall shower into pool 3 is good.

Thursday 9/18/03: A "No Fee Day" this Saturday to recognize National Public Lands Day.

Tuesday 9/16/03: Conditions are great at Cougar. Pools are hot and the cold water has a good flow. The waterfall shower into pool 3 is superb now.

Sunday 8/31/03: We enjoyed great music at the pools much of the afternoon as musicians Keith and Robin played guitar and violin together.

Sunday 8/31/03: Highway 20 from Bend reopened this morning at 9am.

Friday 8/29/03: Happy Labor Day Weekend !!

Santiam Pass/Sisters Fire Coverage

Some new Cougar pictures taken Thursday 1, 2.

Look for Jeanine and her friends at the Cougar parking lot selling blackberry preserves. They picked 'em near Cougar and canned them last week over a campfire.

Thursday 8/28/03: Highway 20 from Bend may not reopen this weekend, but it will be open next week. Fires near the Santiam Pass are now 40,000+ acres.

Cougar pools are still hot: 111, 109, 106, 102.6, and 99. Cold water at 63.

That cute ferret named Tag was back today, and his owner Bart let me take pictures of him around the cave. I'll post them soon. There was a 4-week old baby. Soo cute. And a little black kitten 6 weeks old. Way cute. Definitely a day of cuteness at Cougar. And the watermelon guy was back with another wonderful  watermelon.

Wednesday 8/27/03: Bagby is closed for repairs for about a week more. New moon today. Mars is nearer to Earth (55 million Km) than it has been in 60,000 years. Cool site with Mars orbit. Mars will be within 10% of this proximity (61 mKm) until Sep 20. If you miss it, the next time it will come within 61 mKm will be in late July, 2018 (57 mKm). Highway 20 from Bend may open by Labor Day weekend. Highway 242 remains open. Sunset is at 7:54pm.

Monday 8/25/03: Fire is now 36,000 acres

Sunday 8/24/03: The Booth and Bear Butte fires are now 24,000 acres. Highway 20 from Bend is closed just east of the junction with highway 22. The scenic pass, highway 242 from Sisters to McKenzie Bridge remains open and is a good alternative route from Bend to Cougar.

Quite a day yesterday. A guy named Toem brought a watermelon and shared it with everyone. It was delicious! Someone brought a cute ferret named Tag. The largest group I've ever seen arrive together - 26 people! Incredible. They'd been rafting the McKenzie where the water was said to be 47-degrees. They were seeking warmer water -- and found it at Cougar. They only stayed about 15 minutes.

I met a family with a girl who was born at 420 camp. She's 10 now. The father told me an amazing story of actually seeing a cougar at Cougar. A friend had a dog there (a reminder not to bring dogs down to the pools :-) and the dog was suddenly dropped by the cougar who pounced on him and had the dog's head in his jaws. The friend knocked the cougar off, and the dog survived. It was just above the cold stream log that it happened -- in 1994.

Thursday 8/21/03: Highway 20 from Bend is closed west of the Santiam Pass due to the 3,000 acre Santiam Forest Fire that erupted Tuesday. It could remain closed for more than a week. Highway 242 (the scenic route) is open. The typical driving time is 60 minutes from Sisters to McKenzie Bridge on Highway 242, not much longer than Highway 20.

Fire photos by Seymour Mondshein  

A reminder not to bring glass bottles to the hot springs. Also keep in mind alcohol is prohibited. Please remind others when you see them. A couple of days ago some "boys" dropped a bottle of beer and it exploded into pieces that took 30 minutes to clean up. Fortunately it was not in the water.

Comment on Spence Hot Springs, New Mexico: Hot springs, buff bathing - what's so unbearable?


Monday 8/18/03: Life is great at Cougar Hot Springs. Cold water is flowing and filling the bucket in 5 to 10 minutes. Pools are still has hot as noted on 8/7/03. Horseflies are virtually gone. Sunset at 8:09pm tonight, moonrise at 11:15pm.

Rooster Rock Beach update

Nudity banned at Spence Hot Springs in New Mexico

Contrary to what the Sheriff's remarks implied in the above article, there are no reports of any rapes occurring at Spence Hot Springs


Sunday 8/10/03: It's crowded this weekend at Cougar. Parking lot full in the afternoon. Cold water flowing well, filling the cold bucket in about 3 minutes.

Thursday 8/7/03: Pools are very hot. Temps are 111.5, 111.0, 109.6, 107.7, 104.0 and 100.2. It's uncrowded. Sunset at 8:26pm.

Friday 7/25/03: Undersea vents possible origin of life

Monday 7/21/03: Pools are very hot. Early afternoon temps (after the morning sun has affected the pools) are 112, 111, 109.5, 107, 104.5, and 103.7-degrees. Around 6pm the pools have cooled back down to 111, 110, 108.5, 105.3, 102.3, and 101.3. The water in the cave is 114 degrees. Cold water is filling the cold bucket at 61-degrees. The air temperature is hitting a high of 76 at 4pm, and a low of 55 at 6am.

Sunday 7/13/03: Country Fair Photos

Thursday 7/10/03: This is normally the busiest time of year, during the Country Fair, but the parking lot pools at Cougar Hot Springs are quite uncrowded this year. Watch out for a few remaining horseflies. Pools are hot. The top pools are 110-degrees. The lower pools are 108.5, 105.5, 104, and 102.

Monday 6/30/03: The McKenzie scenic pass will open today

Sunday 6/29/03: The email link above was broken for awhile, but is working again now.

Saturday 6/21/03: Happy Summer Solstice!

Deer Creek Hot Spring is currently 101.5 degrees.

Wednesday 6/18/03: Cougar pools are hot. Top pools are 107.6 and 108.5. Pool 4 is 101 and pool 5 is 99. Good flow of cold water from log filling bucket. Annual horsefly season at Cougar has started and will probably last 3 weeks. Someone did a great job digging out pool 4. It is wonderful. Deepest it has ever been. Sunset at 8:55pm.


Monday 6/9/03: Temps in the top 3 pools are over 106. Volunteers have done extensive work, resulting in a great flow of cold water from the log into the bucket and the 4th pool has been dug out and dams built up. Blue River Reservoir has great swimming now. We were offline with for a few weeks changing web hosting providers.

Sunset is at 8:53pm tonight. Full moon this Friday.


Saturday 5/10/03: Pool temps as of 5pm yesterday: 103.8, 102.7, 100.6, 95.

Wednesday 5/7/03: Pool temps as of 8pm yesterday: 104.3, 102.7, 100.8, 96.

Friday 5/2/03: Man amputates arm, hikes to safety

Thursday 5/1/03: Glorious sunny day forecast for today. High of 68 expected. Pools temps as of yesterday afternoon were cooler (due to recent rain), 104, 103, 101 and 96.

Sunday 4/27/03: Huge increase in temperature. Pools have shot up to 108.5, 107.5, 105,5 and 98. The water in the cave is 112. Perhaps the sudden increase was caused by the last snow having melted from the top of the peak. Sunset this week will be at 8:11pm. It was surprisingly uncrowded today, despite very nice weather. Sunshine and blue sky. An average of 16 people in the pools throughout the afternoon. The high temp in Blue River today was 58. Rain is in the forecast for the next few days.

Friday 4/25/03: Current temps: 104, 102.6, 100.6, 95.3. Sunset at 8:06pm.

Wednesday 4/16/03: Full moon tonight. Moonrise at 7:40pm.

Monday 4/14/03: Sunset this week is 7:54 pm. Sunrise 6:24am.

Monday 4/7/03: Current pool temps are 102.7, 100.7 and 98.6.

Thursday 4/3/03: Current pool temps are 104.0, 102.0 and 99.4.

Thursday 4/3/03: Sunset is 6:40pm the remainder of this week. On Sunday morning we start Daylight Saving Time, and sunset Sunday night will be 7:45pm.


Sunday 3/30/03: Pools are warming up with this dry weather. An entire weekend of sunny, warm beautiful weather. Right now it's 104 in the top pool, 102 in the second.


Tuesday 3/25/03: Monday was a busy afternoon at Cougar. A glorious, sunny, beautiful, warm day. Spring is here! The pools warmed considerably from their luke warm Saturday condition. But they are still not hot. 2nd pool at 100, main pool at 102. Today's rain will cool them however.

There were 23 people there when we left at 530pm. 3 pools were in use. Lots of cute babies this day. Probably about 7 of them visited in the time we were there. Many families have time off for Spring break this week.


Saturday 3/22/03: We've had more than 2 inches of rain over the last 3 days, so the pools are much  cooler. The Blue River Market no longer has passes. Usually there are envelopes at the Cougar parking lot.


Monday 3/10/03: Current pools temps: 102, 100, 98 degrees. Pools are a bit cooler because of recent rains.

Thursday 3/6/03: Weather station taken back off-line because it was malfunctioning.

Tuesday 3/4/03: The weather station is back on now. Some light rain expected in the afternoon. Sunset today is at 6:01pm. With rain expected this week we'll probably get some snow at night and in the early morning when the air temps are cooler. Watch for ice on the shaded portions of the FS 19 road.

Sunday 3/2/03: A beautiful day yesterday at Cougar, with rays of sunshine coming to the pools. I was there from 1pm to sunset. About 60 people visited during that time. Only 3 wore suits.  More men overall than women today, running about 65%. Ages 18-60, plus 2 kids. The peak time was 3-4pm with 28 people there. It's getting a bit warmer in the pools and even pool 3 was usable. I would say the overall pool usage was about 75% of capacity at the peak. Not too crowded. We could have squeezed in another 10 people spread among the pools. The group was a bit talkative, but not overly loud, and I enjoyed some meditation in pool 3. Pool 1 is the big top pool. The temps were 98, 100, 102.5 and 103. After 4pm, the number of people tapered off to about 15. Sunset was at 5:57pm. Sunset today is 5:59pm.

I took the weather station offline, because it was malfunctioning.

Monday 2/24/03: A beautiful sunny day today at Cougar. Yesterday was a moderate crowd until 3:30pm. For 2 hours before sunset, Cougar pools were filled to capacity and the parking lot was full. Typically the busy hours for the week are the two hours before sunset on Saturday and Sunday. Other times are not crowded. Sunset at 5:52pm today.

2/19/03: Sunset times: Feb 20: 5:45pm

                Feb 25: 5:52pm

                Mar 1: 5:57pm

                Mar 5: 6:02pm

                Mar 10: 6:09pm

                Mar 21: 6:23pm


2/17/03: A delightful afternoon at Cougar. Despite it being a holiday (Presidents Day), it was uncrowded. An average of 8 people there between 2 and 6pm. The water is warm: 104 in the top pool. Sunset will be 5:43pm tomorrow.


Air temperatures are generally 3.5-degrees cooler for each 1000 feet in elevation. Cougar is at 1850'. Eugene is 420'. Thus it will generally be 5-degrees cooler at Cougar from the elevation and when you include the effect of buildings in Eugene, Cougar is normally 7-degrees cooler.


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