Friends of Cougar News archive 2005
Board of Directors
Change in management, fees at Cougar
Comments from members
Sunday 12/18/05: A few inches of new snow fell this morning on the already icy road to Cougar. Few people were at the Springs yesterday. A quiet, pleasant afternoon with only 2-10 people present. Average of 5.
Thursday 12/15/05: Happy full moon! Half the ice that was on the slick FS 19 road over the weekend is gone today. It's still slick, but passable if you drive very slowly. Top pool is 102-degrees.
Saturday 12/10/05: The road to Cougar is very icy. Not recommended now.
Wednesday 12/7/05: Mom's Pies no more; now Mom's orphans
Sunday 12/4/05: The top pool is now just 99.3-degrees. It has warmed some since the rain abated Saturday morning. There are some patches of snow on the road, and certain corners are slippery. Caution is advised. Because rain/snow is not in the forecast for most of this week, I think the pools will be quite warm starting Wednesday 12/7/05.
Saturday 12/3/05: The weather forecast has changed. The pools should be warm again sooner than I had expected. I may visit the Springs today and see what temperatures they are now. There's alot of snow, however, on the Santiam Pass from Bend. But none on the road to Cougar.
Thursday 12/1/05: Persistent, heavy rain has rendered the pools not warm enough to soak in. It is unlikely they will be warm enough until 12/8/05 or later. Rain and snow showers are forecast for the next 10 days, although the probability of daily showers drops to 30% on Tuesday.
Wednesday 11/30/05: Rain is forecast for the next 9 days, so the pools may get too cool to enjoy. I will update with any information I have as to their currrent temps. Sunday they were just barely warm enough (100.4-deg), but they may not be warm enough now.
8 young drinking Russian guys knocked over Hoodoo's kiosk just after sunset on Thanksgiving. They also broke beer bottles near the pools. They were so obnoxious, that all other visitors left the Springs. Being Thanksgiving, Hoodoo was not there.
Saturday 11/26/05 2pm: Because it didn't rain most of Saturday and it may not rain tonight or tomorrow, I think the top pools will probably be warm enough to enjoy Sunday. There is a 30% chance of rain, however, so you'll just have to keep an eye out.
Saturday 11/26/05 7am: The pools will not be hot enough today due to the heavy recent rain that continued overnight. They were barely warm enough yesterday. It was busy. 11 people in pool 0, 9 in pool 1, 5 in pool 2. It was warm enough (barely) to enjoy, but chilly when you got out. The top pools were only about 100 degrees.
Someone(s) knocked over Hoo Doo's kiosk. Probably Thursday night. It's too bad, especially since most people feel Hoo Doo's been doing a good job and they certainly have put alot of time, effort and expense into management this year. They'll need to bring in heavy equipment to right the kiosk.
Sunday 11/20/05: Saturday was a delightful afternoon at Cougar. Everyone was kind to each other and it seemed everyone had a great time. No problems. The top pool is now 104-degrees. Most of the afternoon there were about 10 people present. Don was fine today! One mother by herself had her one and two year olds playing in pool 2. They were a joy.
Saturday 11/19/05: Vigilance. It's one of the present reasons for the existence of Friends of Cougar.
Maria is again pushing for adding concrete cement to the pools. The last time I had discussed this with Maria I had thought she had changed her position and agreed with me that the pools were best left natural. But when Gordon of Hoodoo outlined their plan on Thursday during the pool cleaning I realized it was back on. He argued that it would prevent people from moving the rocks and it would make cleaning the pools easier.
I have cleaned the pools many times in the past ten years. The pools are not hard to clean. Concrete cement is utterly unnecessary. I told him that nearly no one wants concrete cement in the pools. The board of directors surveyed the members of Friends of Cougar in April. They rejected the idea overwhelmingly (97%). Most people want the Hot Springs to be as natural as possible.
Gordon pushed for hidden cement, that no one would see. The principle is part of what's important to most Friends of Cougar. I thought about the history of how much the wild of our earth has been destroyed, because people wanted to slightly lower their labors at the expense of nature
Gordon works for Hoodoo, and now Maria does also. Gordon implied that Chuck (head of Hoodoo) had not agreed to cement. I don't know whether Chuck is aware of Gordon and Maria's proposal, but I do recall that Chuck was adamant just 6 months ago that there would be no cement added to the pools. "Unless people wanted that, and even then, it would require an environmental impact study."
Most visitors are pleased with how well Hoodoo is managing Cougar. Hoodoo seems far more interested in the happiness of Cougar visitors than the Forest Service was. Last I heard, Hoodoo has not yet decided if they will continue managing the Hot Springs after this year (a trial period).
But I still believe having Friends of Cougar managing is the best solution. People who know and enjoy the Hot Springs and care about them. People who are not ruled by the financial bottom line. For us, it's about healing and preserving the opportunity for future generations of visitors. A couple people pushing the idea of concrete cementing the pools to make them slightly easier for them to clean is an example that continues to keep me concerned with who manages Cougar Hot Springs.
Sunday 11/13/05: Aside from drinking Don destroying the tranquility of the pools at noon Sunday with a sudden angry verbal assault, the pools at Cougar were filled this weekend with wonderful, relaxing, respectful, peaceful, kind people.
Don was at lower vocal volume in pool 1 than he normally is and could not always be heard in pool 2, but on Saturday he poisoned pool 2 for a half hour with disturbing remarks and menacing with a 20 pound rock he lifted while saying he might heave it at me. The rest of the time (both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4:30pm), he was in pool 1, and many people left Cougar early or escaped to pool 2. His drunken demeanor epitomizes the main reason alcohol is not permitted at Cougar. (Although he seems to be drinking less than last year. (One occasion then he was literally fall-down drunk.)) Perhaps stronger enforcement of this rule will be deemed necessary. I'll try again talking with him about the problem when he is sober. Don is currently the most regular regular at Cougar, visiting 3-4 days a week. I have seen no one else causing trouble while drinking at Cougar in recent months. On that same subject, Turtle is no longer around. After enough upsetting intoxication incidents, Hoodoo asked him to leave the area, and he complied.
According to Mike, Hoodoo has not yet decided if they will continue managing Cougar after the end of this year.
Most of the afternoon in pool 2 Saturday and during all of the afternoon Sunday, the atmosphere in pool 2 was wonderfully relaxing. Great people. Very pleasant pool temperatures. They dropped 1 degree from Saturday to Sunday: Pool 1 now at 103-degrees. Pool 2 at 99 degrees.
Friday 11/11/05: Deer Creek Hot Springs is now not warm enough, due to the rain. Probably won't be enjoyable until next May or June. Pool temperatures very nice at Cougar. Only slightly cooler from the recent rain. Check pool temperatures link (above) before visiting this winter. Normally there is a two week period when it gets too cool to enjoy.
Tuesday 10/18/05: Cougar visitors often ask who carved the cougar on the rock beside the top pool. It was David "Spirit" Crawford around 1989. Here is an article on and picture of David in today's Eugene newspaper.
Sunday 10/16/05: A pleasant afternoon at Cougar. I enjoyed meeting Ron, Terry, Eliesha, Merrick and his wife, Caitlin, Winston, Mike, Lorette, and Byron. Lower pools are slightly cooler from recent rain. Upper pools almost as hot as before. See Pool temperatures.
Wednesday 9/28/05: Entrance fees to rise at some national parks
Tuesday 9/27/05: Warm and sunny through Thursday, but then an early rainy period. 5 straight days of probable rain are forecast to begin Friday.
Tuesday 9/20/05: Equinox will arrive on the 23rd. The weekend was pleasant at Cougar. Remember that for toddlers, often the deep end of the pools are over their heads.
I saved a two-year old from drowning in pool 4 on Sunday while he was out of sight of his mother who was in a different pool. An 8-year old playing with the toddler didn't realize the toddler was drowning. I just happened to be looking in their direction. By the time I crossed the pool, the toddler had been underwater and in distress for several seconds. The caretakers had all been so attentive earlier, that I am surprised they had let him wander off. Just because other adults are present, if they haven't been asked to watch a child, they can't be expected to be alert to that child in an environment where many close their eyes to meditate.
Friday 9/16/05: The natural hot springs often called "Wind River" in the Hood River area of Oregon has had its access closed by the owner.
Monday 9/05/05: Busy at Cougar Sunday of Labor Day weekend. But reports are it was remarkably quiet Saturday.
Thursday 8/25/05: CNN Travel story on Hot Springs, Arkansas
Wednesday 8/17/05: Deer Creek Hot Springs is now 102.3-degrees. The McKenzie River there is 54. Full moon Friday.
Monday 8/7/05: Fair summer weather at Cougar Hot Springs. It will be warm and sunny for the foreseeable summer. The water in the swimming lagoon is now 73-degrees. Blue River Lake is 76-degrees. The pools are hot. Top pools 111-degrees! For complete stats, see Pool temperatures. People have been working on the pools and they all have very nice walls and even pool 5 is great.
There was trouble Thursday night. Hoodoo's Mike spent a couple hours cleaning broken glass out of the top two pools on Friday.
Thursday 6/23/05: Forecast is for the next 10 days to be sunny!
Monday 6/20/05: Happy Summer Solstice and full moon !
Saturday 6/11/05: National forest fee sites are trimmed
Sunday 6/5/05: Deer Creek is not yet warm. Running an estimated 98-degrees. In two weeks it should be warm for the summer.
Saturday 6/4/05: It was a beautiful day and a delightful afternoon at Cougar.
A few people braved the cold stream pools 30' down a trail through the forest from the pool 6. That's what I call pool 7. 48-degrees. There was much more trash than usual from the night crowd. Turtle picked up most of it.
Thursday 6/2/05: Turtle got drunk and went on a tirade yesterday around 3pm that included threatening people and throwing stones into the pools. Gordon, the attendant from Hoodoo, did an excellent job of calming Turtle down enough to escort him from the pools area with his bottles of vodka and kahlua. At 6:45pm, Turtle was still verbally abusing Lionel at the side of his van in the parking lot.
Lionel reports that two car break-ins have occurred since Hoodoo took over security three weeks ago. Apparently before 9am. During Lionel's volunteer work for 7 months, there were no break-ins.
Hoodoo seems pleased with the attendance so far. One day a bus of 52 college students from BC arrived at 9am wrote a traveler's check for $260. They stayed for an hour at the pools. Chip reports that typically they're getting nearly 75 paid visitors on weekends, about 25 weekdays. He has sold 10-15 annual passes. By my estimation, they could turn a small profit next year if they were to continue managing Cougar.
Sunday 5/29/05: Memorial Day weekend historically brings a different crowd to Cougar. Yesterday at 1pm, I was the only one nude among 22 visitors. Even more interesting, it wasn't crowded. When I arrived at 1pm, there were only 8 other cars in the parking lot. Later in the afternoon, it may have filled, and there were many more nude.
In past years, there's been alot of beer drinking folks in suits, but I didn't see much beer this year.
A couple of us took brief swims in the lagoon. It's currently 55-degrees, so it has a ways to go before it will be a more comfortable 70+ as I expect in July and August. It's great to see it full again.
The pools are hotter than they have been. Pool 1 is 104.7-degrees and even pool 4 is now usable for a pleasant cool-down.
Sunday 5/22/05: A warm, sunny 8 days straight is forecast starting Monday. The Willamette Folk Festival is happening at UO in Eugene this weekend. It ends this afternoon. Full moon tonight.
Friday 5/20/05: Pools are very nice temps now. Pool 2 about 99.5. Pool 1 101, Pool 3 98. Highway 105 through Springfield is closed for a few days for road work.
Wednesday 5/18/05: Hoodoo began managing Cougar Friday and everything is going smoothly. There have been no incidents. From Hoodoo, these comments from a hot springs user. Yesterday, pool 2 was cold. This is probably due to stream seepage. The cold stream is running strong due to recent heavy rain. The cave is looking hazardous. Apparently rocks have recently come down from the ceiling. Entering the cave is not recommended.
Friday 5/13/05: Hoodoo begins managing Cougar today. Daily fee increase to $5. Eugene Weekly news article on the changes. Lee Steckler was elected yesterday by the Board of Directors to fill a vacancy.
Thursday 5/12/05: Pool 2 has been restored to almost as deep as it was (before last week's vandalism). The lagoon is nearly full and will be great for swimming in July and August.
Sunday 5/8/05: A pleasant, though light crowd for Mother's Day. Pools 2 and 3 still half depth.
Friday 5/6/05: Hoodoo dialogue on nudity
Thursday 5/5/05: Bush removes protections for 58 million acres of National Forest
Thursday 5/5/05: Vandalism Tuesday night damaged pools 2 and 3. Several of the largest rocks in the wall of pool 2 were pushed over the waterfall and knocked into pool 3. The depth of pool 2 is now less than half what it was. Pool 3 is damaged less, but it is also about half its previous depth. It will take several hours of skilled rock work to repair the damage. The damage to pool 2 is especially troubling because it has weakened the entire pool which had been the best it's ever been, with natural cement (moss) having been carefully, skillfully applied piece by piece over the past three years.
Thursday 5/5/05: Happy Birthday Don!
Wednesday 5/4/05: Nice crowd Sunday and I heard Andre was not at Cougar on Saturday.
However, he was there yesterday. Soon after I began to relax next to him in pool 3, a buddy moved forward and began to lose control, pounding his fist into his hand and ranting in Russian for several minutes, implying he was about to get physically violent. The three of us were alone in the lower pool and unseen by people above. Apparently he was upset that weeks ago I had insisted Andre not get drunk at the Springs. This buddy of his nearly started a fight. What's worse, it was over something that obviously (getting drunk and obnoxious) isn't allowed at Cougar. This was the worst situation I'm aware of at Cougar in the last 7 years. A bone-breaking, bloody fight was barely averted. Defending the facts seemed to enrage him. Only my skill at firm, yet fair discussion made it possible for this to come to a peaceful end.
Some would argue that Andre and his buddy on-the-edge of physical violence indicate a need for fees to pay for organized presence or law enforcement. As we often say, it's too bad a few people spoil it for everyone. Maybe "tough guys" get their way where they come from, but we don't tolerate threats of violence at Cougar.
I would suggest this to you if you find yourself in a similar situation, leave the confrontation momentarily to inform people in other pools of the situation before a "show-down." You will then have the support of others if you want to return to the confrontation. The trouble-makers need to realize they cannot win simply through intimidation and making people leave the Springs. Their offensive behavior will not be tolerated.
Security at the Springs currently depends solely on the presence of other soakers. Because there can be problems when you don't have support there, it means that one cannot deeply relax with eyes closed for several minutes should the other soakers dress and leave. We may want to discuss the advantages/disadvantages of having someone on duty to provide a Friends of Cougar security presence.
Saturday 4/30/05: We're hoping for an "Andre-free" Saturday again today. We've been blessed two weekends in a row so far. The bad news is that I learned from one of his buddies last Saturday that he isn't just visiting the U.S., he lives in Salem permanently. [see the news entry for 3/26/05 for an explanation of the Andre problem.] The orange-man, Don, is away. That's good news for people who don't like his loud, sometimes crude banter when he's drunk at the Springs. But bad news if you like his wonderful oranges!
Tuesday 4/26/05: Deer Creek is now 98-degrees. River 47-deg. New rules posted (per Hoodoo).
Saturday 4/23/05: Full moon tonight!
Saturday 4/23/05: Told to cut, Forest Service starts selling land
Friday 4/22/05: Happy Earth Day!!
Tuesday 4/19/05: U.S Forest Service looks for sites to close down
Monday 4/18/05: The Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Sara Williams from the board for personal reasons. We now have one vacancy on the board. The vacancy will be filled by a vote of the remaining 4 members of the Board. Nominations welcome. Board@Cougar.org
Thursday 4/14/05: Chuck Shepard speaks to Friends of Cougar
Wednesday 4/13/05: Email from Hoodoo
Wednesday 4/13/05: Proposed Plan
Wednesday 4/13/05: Register Guard article
Wednesday 4/13/05: Additional comments from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo.
Wednesday 4/13/05: Election Results. Great participation. Informative results to our poll on the issues. Thank you to those who voted! Congratulations to our new President, Sara Williams. Also elected to the Board of Directors: John Gabrielson, Mark Mason and Greg Thorne.
Tuesday 4/12/05: Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo, on the status of plans. He did not offer Lionel a job. He merely talked to him.
Tuesday 4/12/05: The election is proceeding smoothly. Good turnout. Thank you to all who have voted. If you haven't voted, you can do so by clicking on the Election link above. Phone call with John Harper.
Tuesday 4/12/05: Election today! Choose whom you want most on the Friends of Cougar board of directors and have your positions on controversial issues heard! Click on the Election link to learn more and cast your vote.
Monday 4/11/05: Election tomorrow for board of directors and other issues.
I talked with Lionel, the guy watching the parking lot. He confirmed Hoodoo offered him $300/mo to not only watch the parking lot, but also collect the $5 from people. He so far has refused their offer. [Correction 4/12/05: According to Hoodoo, they did not offer him a job, they only talked to him.] Currently he is a volunteer, accepting donations for guarding the parking lot against theft. If Hoodoo were to satisfy their contract requirement for 8-12 hours of presence daily with this nominal cost, most of the $5 fee would be profit, rather than being used to hire an employee. It dramatically changes the financial picture. Previously I had assumed Hoodoo would have employees at minimum wage covering the required hours. That cost would be $500/week. I don't know that Hoodoo is legal with the $300/mo option, but that is apparently the "camp host" concept.
Sunday 4/10/05: Idea: Free Fridays.
Sunday 4/10/05: An email message from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo.
Saturday 4/9/05: The best news of the day was drunk Russian Andre wasn't at Cougar. He'd been there 3 previous Saturdays, each day causing mild discomfort for other visitors.
A couple members of the Friends of Cougar were there and the 3 of us chatted on the Cougar Crisis.
I'm upset that the Forest Service has refused to reveal the Operating Plan! District Ranger Mary Allison said to show it to me would would be "unfair." Unfair for the public to know what a public agency is planning to do next month on something that will affect thousands of people? No, unfair to Hoodoo! What? Why the secrecy? She said on Thursday she couldn't show it to me because it didn't have all the signatures. So the plan isn't final, I asked? No, it's a done deal she said. That's a disturbing contradiction.
I suspect that they will show me the Operating Plan only when it's too late to make for the public to discover serious shortfalls and suggest any changes. She did promise to have the Forest Service call me when it can be revealed.
Of course, what it all boils down to is the fee is going up from $3 to $5 making it unaffordable for many students, low income people and families. And it's all so unnecessary. 99% of the expenses they are covering are the costs of collecting the fee!
Word is that Hoodoo offered Lionel $300/mo to continue watching the parking lot. Word is he initially refused saying that he is a volunteer.
I had an idea for preserving Cougar and keeping it out of the hands of private profiteers: Forming a Land Trust. If 1000 people each bought shares in the land trust at $1000 a piece, we may be able to buy the site and protect it in perpetuity and run it the way we want. If you're interested in securing a permanent share of protecting this treasure send an email to LandTrust@cougar.org. I'll collect a list of people who want to help form the land trust and when we reach 1000 people, we'll proceed. Obviously no funds are needed now, we just need to gauge the level of support for this idea.
Friday 4/8/05: Analysis and solutions.
Thursday 4/7/05: Maria and I met with Mary Allison. She insisted they already have an agreement with Hoodoo. Here are the notes from our meeting.
Thursday 4/7/05: I have prepared the articles of incorporation of Friends of Cougar as a non-profit. I will be filing them within the hour. At 3pm, Maria and I plan to meet with Mary Allison to try to get a delay in the FS signing with Hoodoo.
Thursday 4/7/05: Notes from phone conversation with District Ranger Mary Allison.
Wednesday 4/6/05: I'd like to set up an online forum for us to share thoughts and ideas. If anyone has a software recommendation, please let me know.
Wednesday 4/6/05: Conversation with Maria
Wednesday 4/6/05: Questions submitted to Forest Service
Wednesday 4/6/05: An alternative plan
Wednesday 4/6/05: Forest Service Reveals Plan: Paradise Imperiled
Wednesday 4/6/05: Forest Service Responds
Wednesday 4/6/05: Keith Gormezano has been elected Secretary, Friends of Cougar. He received 65 votes. 25 early (4/4/05) votes had to be discarded by the rules, so the official vote count stands at 40. There were 0 write-in votes. Most duplicates were eliminated, but I didn't give it a thorough examination, since clearly he won.
Tuesday 4/5/05: Today's election is proceeding smoothly.
Tuesday 4/5/05: Nudism fosters healthier individuals, society
Monday 4/4/05: Stop logging McKenzie River Trail
Monday 4/4/05: The ballot for the election of Secretary is now online. Only votes placed between midnight and 11:59pm PDT on April 5th will be counted. You are welcome to test the voting page today and submit any comments.
Public participation in the process of managing public land.
Monday 4/4/05: I posted our candidates for Secretary on the Election page. Just one person submitted info to be on the ballot. We've now had over 400 visitors to the Alert page. There are 3 people from McKenzie River Ranger District involved in the process of arranging management of Cougar. The phone # there is 822-3381. Mary Allison (District Ranger), Sandy Ratliff (Staff, Recreation), John Harper (reports to Sandy Ratliff).
Monday 4/4/05: I just spoke with Jerri at the Forest Service. She had some of the details. They are in discussions with Hoodoo on managing the Hot Springs for at least this summer (one year). Naturally, I told her the Friends of Cougar want to manage the Hot Springs and want to be considered. She was receptive. But she is not "in the loop." Those that are were not available at the moment, and I will call back. I already sent an email to the District Ranger, who is one of the three people from FS involved in this process.
I've received an outpouring of emails from Friends of Cougar with offers of assistance and support. We also have at least one candidate nominated for Secretary. Things are moving along well.
Saturday 4/2/05: The 1400 members that were emailed with the Alert brought 200 of them to the website last night. A few emails have come in, but so far no one has offered to serve as Secretary. One Friend of Cougar from BC told of "Public Private Partnerships" known as P3's. He sent along this article on one that failed "big-time." Maple Ridge.
Friday 4/1/05: I just discovered that Hoodoo has published a page that indicates they expect to be running the Hot Springs before Memorial Day! That's in less than 60 days! Whatever happened to federal law regarding an open process of bidding on contracts?
So we find out about these facts from the contractor on the web, before the Forest Service makes it public?!!
Isn't that just like the Forest Service that we've seen in the past -- make changes fast that they know will not be popular -- before ever telling the Friends of Cougar or the public?
Their office is closed now, but we will be on the phone to them Monday morning. McKenzie River Ranger District, 541-822-3381 Jerri Ledgerwood (Recreation) or Mary Allison (District Ranger).
My information in the alert came from two sources who reportedly had heard it from Jerri yesterday. When I phoned today to reach Jerri or Mary to confirm they were not in.
I find the "hippie-culture"-apologetic tone of Hoodoo's "Terwilliger" page disturbing if not ominous. We definitely don't want people running Cougar that don't even enjoy it themselves or feel visitors will encounter an "alternative lifestyle." Alternative to what? It's a hot spring! They might was well say "Warning: at Cougar you may encounter people who know how to enjoy hot springs." Or "Warning: you may see dreadlocks or amber necklaces. Ooooo scary stuff." We've endured years with the Forest Service -- outsiders -- non-Hot Springs users managing and trying to change Cougar to their own strange whims. Charging a fee to get rid of "undesireables." Wanting to ban nudity. Now, that was brilliant! It's a hot springs. Perfect for relaxing. It's wet and it's warm. If ever there was a place you didn't need clothes, this is it. Do these people wear clothes when they take a bath at home?
To quote from their website: Clothes are optional, although nudity is not encouraged when others are already present who would obviously be offended by this. (ex. families with small children).
Offended (Obviously?!) by the human body?! What kind of attitude is this? Yep, body shame's a great thing to be teaching kids. We all know how freaked-out small children get when they see naked people. :-) Or is it parents of the small children that freak-out? No, I'm sure it's logical that parents wouldn't want their child to know what another actual, complete human being looks like. Not yet, anyway. Perhaps when they're older, say in 15 years. They're too young. It might damage them. Better that they be curious so they can grow up to be maladjusted adults just like their parents.
You want to wear clothes and don't want to see naked people? Go somewhere else. ANYWHERE else! Go to Belknap, right up the road. And if you want to stay, you really don't have to look at people's bodies. 99% of what you'll see are trees, moss and ferns. And if you want to talk to someone who's naked, would it be asking too much to have to look at their naked face?
It would be like us collecting fees at Yellowstone from hikers and telling them not to hike on the trails if snowmobilers are present in the park before you get there. Hiking quietly might offend them. If others are on snowmobiles, be sure you have one with you or at least try to imitate loud engine-like noises. Especially if you see families with small children. Hiking - an alternative lifestyle. Perhaps invented in the "early Hippie era."
Friday 4/1/05: The election information page is now online.
Friday 4/1/05: I have changed the web site address for members of the Friends of Cougar to FriendsOfCougar.com. The main reason for this is just to make administration of the members area of the web site easier.
Friday 4/1/05: Forest Service Reveals Plans for Major Changes. I wish this was just an April Fools Day joke, but it isn't. I have a report that the Forest Service plans to bring in a private concessionaire to manage Cougar this summer. They would increase the daily fee to $5, do away with the annual pass, and who knows what else. I'm sure the Friends of Cougar would prefer to manage the Hot Springs. The private concessionaire in line to get the contract is Hoodoo. Owner Chuck has never even soaked at the Hot Springs as far as I know. I will be sending this news to members as soon as possible. We will then hold an election to select officers and presumably come up with an alternative plan for the Friends of Cougar to incorporate as a non-profit and then to take over management of the Hot Springs. You can be sure that Hoodoo is in it for the profit, and paving the trail and banning nudity would be some of the possible changes we can imagine they might make.
Wednesday 3/30/05: With no rain all afternoon, the top pools warmed some. They're not hot yet, but still are pleasant and perfect for chiwazen in the deep pool 1. It's 97-degrees. Pool temperatures If the rain abates, the pools will be nice even during the next several days.
Tuesday 3/29/05: Pools still cold. Based on the current forecast for rain and showers almost daily until Apr 7, the pools will not be hot again until around the weekend of Apr 9-10.
Sunday 3/27/05: The pools are cold. Due to the intense rain, the top pool has dropped below 94-degrees. The rain will have to abate and time pass before they are back up to a comfortable temperature (e.g. at least 102 in the top). I'll update this page to let you know when they are hot again.
Sunday 3/27/05: Happy Easter! The pools are cooling down with this rain. Be sure to check our Pool Temperatures page if you want hot pools before planning a trip to Cougar.
Saturday 3/26/05: The bad news is Andre [see last Saturday] was back. The good news is he's not a resident of Salem, only visiting the U.S. for several weeks. He brought more buddies this time, so there were 4 young Russian guys in shorts (GIS). They jabbered loudly and constantly. I arrived at 11am, and the place was nearly empty and few people stayed long while they were there. When one couple left, Andre yelled from the pool "You're leaving?! You can't leave! That's bullshit!" A few people arrived at 2pm, and that's when I asked Andre "How do you say in Russian: The most beautiful and tranquil hot springs in the Northwest?" He and his buddies quieted down and left soon after that.
It rained much of the day and the pools are much cooler.
Saturday 3/26/05: Good article on exposing kids to nudity.
Tuesday 3/22/05: Today is World Water Day.
Monday 3/21/05: Happy first day of spring!
Saturday 3/19/05: Until about 3pm a very good afternoon at Cougar. Although the parking lot was full by 1pm. We had two problems after that.
A kid about 21 wearing shorts named Andre tossed down a wine bottle onto the cold-stream rocks beside pool 4. Fortunately it didn't break. He seemed sincere about wanting to be told when he was unwanted in pools or among groups, but stayed the rest of the afternoon without incident. As is common, drunk people at Cougar tend to be far too insensitive and I think Andre was universally annoying to people by talking to them without invitation. But people handled him extremely well. Perhaps if he returns from Salem he will stay sober. If I see him again at Cougar, I will insist on it.
The other problem was a dog. Eventually the owners tied up the dog, but they did so in the pool area, and when it started barking for several minutes that presented a minor problem.
Because people started leaving (coincidence?) after the wine bottle tossing incident, the parking lot wasn't full later in the afternoon.
Tuesday 3/14/05: The weekend was busy at Cougar, but a nice crowd. No problems. The parking lot on Sunday was full early - about 1pm. I met a guy that first came to Cougar in the early 80s and he pointed out that it is surprising that something this good is still around 20 years later, has not been ruined (e.g. by development or vandals) and actually has gotten better! Cougar truly is a world treasure.
Saturday 3/5/05: Another beautiful day and fun afternoon that included a circus group that brought their 2 four-feet-long pythons into pool 3. The friendly snakes seemed to enjoy soaking in the warm water.
Wednesday 3/2/05: Pleasant afternoon at Cougar. The 3-year dam work is complete, and the reservoir is refilling. The waterfall lagoon will be ready for swimming this July and August!
Monday 2/14/05: Happy Valentine's Day!
Great news for families! Kids less than 16 years old are now admitted free! Quite a change! We got our request to the Forest Service for a break for families fulfilled! Previously the free age had been under 7 years old. 16 and over are still $3 per day. I had asked for a student rate of $1 for people under 25, since the disposable income of younger folks is usually more limited than for those of us 25 and over. With this change, the savings will be even better for those kids under 16. The change to Cougar-specific passes has been delayed. Northwest Forest passes will be honored for the next several months.
Saturday 2/12/05: Light rain cooled the pools of slightly today. Nice, pleasant crowd. One problem: Keith was ranting loudly in pool 1 for nearly an hour in the late afternoon. Several people asked him to quiet down. He refused.
Friday 2/11/05: Caution advised on the drive. The road to Cougar is surprisingly slick, despite the weather being sunny and fairly warm. Some black ice.
Sunday 2/6/05: It's snowing this morning on the pools at Cougar!
Yesterday a good crowd. But I was shocked to find the remains of a shattered Jack Daniel's bottle (clear glass!) on the wall between pools 3 and 4. Probably from Friday night. It was impossible to get all the tiny shards. All I could remove was what was large enough to pick up. Hopefully most of the remaining tiny shards will be swept up when we vacuum the pools in the Spring. Until then, you might want to avoid pool 4 without sandals.
Sunday 1/30/05: A very nice afternoon at Cougar. Friendly crowd. In pool 2, at one time there were 16 people, which is more than I can ever recall. No dogs at the pools, no smoking in the pools, and no problems. Good soaking, smiles, massage, conversations, oranges and a very healing experience for everyone.
Monday 1/24/05: Happy full moon tonight!
Saturday 1/22/05: Nice afternoon at Cougar. It was packed for awhile with 35 people in the pools at one time. 14 were students from the OSU Science Club who arrived together. A "shout out" to Ben, Samantha, Jessica, Melissa, Christine and Courtney.
Sunday 1/16/05: The road and trail are clear now. The snow and ice has melted.
Wednesday 1/12/05: FS19 road to Cougar has snow and ice. Because the snow on the road is only a couple inches deep or packed, even low-clearance cars can make it as long as you drive slowly and carefully. It is slippery. I saw a pickup truck had slid off the road last night. The trail to the Springs is actually more treacherous than the road. Use extreme caution on the trail because of the ice. The trail is now too slick for anyone who may have trouble handling a slippery trail. Be careful also around the pools. One mother carrying her child at the Springs fell on the ice yesterday; both of them falling to the hard ground. Test the rocks and stumps. What looks like wetness is sometimes ice around the pools, especially around the entry steps and on the entry-side of the changing area.
The white snow is beautiful to see covering the green tree branches and ferns around the Springs.
Sunday 1/9/05: Snow is falling on the pools at Cougar today.
Tuesday 1/4/05: The FS19 road is slick from ice and frost in places. At the Springs, be very careful around the pools and changing area as many rocks that look wet are actually glazed with ice and exceedingly slippery. The weather forecast calls for a 60% chance of snow at Cougar Saturday, 30% Sunday.
Saturday 1/1/05: Happy New Year!!