Friends of Cougar News Archive
Sunday 12/28/08: The snow on the unplowed last 4 miles of the road is now 18" to 2 feet deep. It is packed down the first 1.5 miles but after that it's not packed. The deep unpacked snow is extremely difficult to trek through without snowshoes.
Friday 12/19/08: Deep snow on road to Cougar. They normally plow up to the dam, so you can park there and hike the last 4 miles.
Sunday 12/14/08: There was no additional accumulation overnight. But light snow is falling this morning at Cougar. It's beautiful!
Saturday 12/13/08: Snow fell overnight at Cougar! The first snow of the season was 7 inches of new soft snow beautifully covering the surrounding ferns and trees. For snow on the road 4-wheel drive is recommended. There are tracks on the road. If you are adept at driving in snow, you can make it to Cougar today in just about any kind of car. More snow is in the forecast through Sunday. Winds are calm.
Tuesday 11/11/08: Top pool has cooled significantly with the winter rain. Check top of this page for current temperature.
Wednesday 10/1/08: Top pool is still very hot. All 5 pools are nice. Lagoon is chilly.
Sunday 8/4/08: Swimming in the lagoon is great. The water temperature now is 71-degrees. The Top pool is 110-degrees! Pool 2, 107.5-degrees.
Saturday 6/21/08: Happy first day of summer!
Tuesday 5/27/08: It was a busy Memorial Day weekend at Cougar. Perfect hot springs weather, with rain or light showers periodically. On Saturday, for a while, there were 9 kids in pool 2. Sunday at one time there were 43 people at the Springs, altho 20 of those were coming or going and not actually in the pools. On Monday the peak was 20 people soaking at once in the Top Pool with 2 more in the cave, and 6 or 8 in pool 2. The Top Pool was 103.5-degrees and Pool 2 was 100.
Saturday 5/10/08: Hoodoo has replaced the kiosk, so they are once again charging $5 per person.
Law enforcement enforced the night closure last night. $125 citations for night use. One person was cited for a tiny amount of marijuana in his car with a $525 ticket. The officer said that not only is alcohol prohibited in containers, but also in the body. He said he had a breathalizer and any amount in a person standing in the parking lot day or night would be subject to citation.
Monday 5/5/08: Kiosk is still not set up, and because of that Hoodoo is not current expecting you to pay the daily fee. So until the kiosk is restored, admission is free! A USFS Law Enforcement officer came to the Springs briefly Sunday with (drug sniffing?) dog. One person consented to a search. No contraband was found. Snow has all melted.
Sunday 4/20/08: It was snowing delightfully yesterday at Cougar, but, surprisingly, there were few people. This morning there are a few inches of new fallen snow on the road.
Friday 4/18/08: Top two pools yesterday were 99.0 and 97.5-degrees. The water coming out of the cave was 107.5-degrees.
Sunday 4/13/08: A glorious day Saturday at Cougar with blue skies, sunshine and warm air. It was the warmest day of the year so far as the high hit 70. It was moderately busy in the Top Pool from noon to 3pm, then, surprisingly just a few people. It's often uncrowded when the weather is exceptionally nice, in part because people don't visit who think it will be too crowded.
I saw 50 butterflies having lunch together on the ground where the kiosk was burned down.
Sunday 4/6/08: A history of the Top Pool Tempearatures has been added and linked from the Home Page, so you can see that this winter had few days where the Top Pool was warm enough. This is a major departure from past winters.
Saturday 4/5/08: The top two pools are warm. Road is fine. The kiosk was burned to the ground two weeks ago, 3/24/08. Law enforcement is investigating. Signage next to the parking lot was removed, and a handwritten note appeared there. It reads "Fees do not keep wild places going."
Monday 3/30/08: The top two pools are warm! Road is fine.
Sunday 3/30/08: Finally it's warm enough! What was arguably the longest cold period in Cougar history is may be over for this winter. This week will be progressively warmer and that should generally continue. Yeah!
The Top pool is now warm enough - just barely. It's about 94-degrees. The road has a little snow on it, but is fine for any vehicles.
Friday 3/28/08: New snow this week has fallen on the road. As you can see above, the pools are all still too cold.
Saturday 3/8/08: The Top pool is not warm enough now, only about 92-degrees. The road is passable with 4-wheel drive or chains. There are some stretches with snow 15-18" deep, but only one vehicle-wide track.
Thursday 2/27/08: There's deep snow on the last 4 miles of road. No vehicles can get past where it is unplowed after the dam. You have to park at the dam now and hike the last 4 miles to the trailhead. The snow is a few feet deep and frozen as of Feb 24. As for the temperature of the Top pool, as of the last report received (Feb 18), the Top pool was just barely warm enough.
Saturday 1/26/08: The Top pool is back to not being warm enough, dropping below 95-degrees with today's rain. Rain is also forecast for Sunday which will make the Top pool cooler still. The trail is mostly clear, but has some slick patches of ice. There is also a fallen tree to climb over. Snow on the road is frozen, and is a problem if you need to get off the single track for a vehicle coming in the other direction. 4-wheel drive is necessary.
From now until March 8th, there will be updates to the news section, because I will be in Costa Rica. However, if people email me with the current conditions, I will be able to post updates. My email link is at the top of this page.
Sunday 1/20/08: None of the pools are quite warm enough now. The trail is mostly clear, but has some patches of slick snow and ice. There is also a fallen tree to climb over. New snow on the road is frozen, and is a problem if you need to get off the single track for a vehicle coming in the other direction. 4-wheel drive is necessary.
Sunday 1/13/08: None of the pools are quite warm enough. The trail is clear of snow, but there is a fallen tree to climb over. New snow on the road is melting, but can be a problem if you get off the single bare pavement track. 4-wheel drive recommended.
Sunday 1/6/08: Even the Top pool is not quite warm enough. Road is fine now.
Saturday 1/5/08: Top pool is lukewarm with some snow on road. 4-wheel drive or chains may be necessary.
Friday 12/28/07: The pools are cold and there's deep snow on the road now.
Monday 12/17/07: Cougar joins woman in hot tub The pools are all cold and not useable this week.
Saturday 12/15/07: Even the top pool will probably not be warm enough to enjoy this weekend. A good-size (est 90 yo) Douglas Fir tree fell across the trail Monday morning. Joe Ray from Hoodoo pulled out the cherished Cougar cold-stream log Thursday morning. We will be putting it back in place.
Saturday 12/8/07: The top pool is warm enough now and will be even warmer tomorrow.
Saturday 12/1/07: A new bench has been added under the clothes awning for a dry place to sit while getting in and out of shoes. Thank you to Maria and Tara, who carried it all the way in. It was built by a friend of Maria.
Friday 11/23/07: Many fun, happy people enjoyed a soak today. Fortunately, it was warmer than expected. It was 100-degrees in the Top Pool and 97 in Pool 2. Spectacular full moon tonight. Saturday will be warmer still.
Monday 11/19/07: The top pool is cold today, but with a dry week starting tomorrow, by this coming weekend the top two pools will be warm. Roger reports a cougar was seen in mid-September walking along the road that spans the Cougar dam.
Saturday 11/17/07: Not warm enough. Just 96-degrees now. Below body temperature.
Friday 11/16/07: Part of Daming Xu's guide book discovered in French Pete Creek drainage.
The pools may not be warm enough this weekend to enjoy. There was alot of rain overnight, and the forecast is for more rain today and through the weekend.
Thursday 11/8/07: The search continues for UO Professor Daming Xu. Lost in the Olallie Mountain trail area of the Three Sisters Wilderness, 15 miles east of the Hot Springs. Details at www.FindOurFriend.com.
Tuesday 11/6/07: Friend of Cougar Daming Xu is missing. Hasn't been seen for 2 days. Last seen Sunday 11/4/07 enroute to hike near Cougar Reservoir. More details at www.FindOurFriend.com.
Monday 10/22/07: One of my favorite days ever at Cougar Sunday. The rains have cooled the pools so only the top two are warm enough. The top one about 101, the second one about 97-degrees. The top pool was filled in the afternoon with 15-20 gentle, friendly, open, loving, naked people relaxing, massaging, chatting, playing and having a great time in perfect harmony.
Wednesday 9/19/07: Record-breaking one-day attendance at Cougar last Friday as 250 Cycle Oregon riders enjoyed a soak after their climb over the top of the scenic Aufderheid mountain route. The surge came between noon and 4 pm, and at one time, there were 82 bicycles parked near the trailhead. A total of 2100 riders participated this year in Cycle Oregon.
Wednesday 8/22/07: Everything's great at Cougar. Swimming in the lagoon is enjoyable. The new cool pool beside pool 3 is deeper and a very pleasant way to cool off. Many visitors this weekend will be on their way to the week-long Nevada art festival Burning Man that starts Monday.
Thursday 8/2/07: The McKenzie River Reflections newspaper is reporting on its front page this week (issue dated Aug 2) that on July 13th, the first day of the Oregon Country Fair, a serious altercation occurred at Cougar. According to Oregon State Police reports, a couple was having sex at the Hot Springs at about 8pm. The couple was asked to stop and the woman of the pair got out of the pool and struck another woman in the face. The man of the pair later threatened two other witnesses with violence. The man from Springfield was cited for Menacing and the woman from Albany was cited for Assault 4.
Monday 7/30/07: The top pool is now 107.2.
Saturday 7/7/07: I've updated the pool temperatures page. The lagoon is now a pleasant 70-degrees!
Happy 7-7-7 !!!
Thursday 7/05/07: Congratulations to Kail Harbick, who with her husband Darin own Harbick's Country Store in neighboring Rainbow. She is starring on the new season of TV's Big Brother broadcast on CBS. The premier is tonight at 8pm.
The Oregon Country Fair is next weekend (F-Su) in Veneta, just west of Eugene. Here are some photos.
Tuesday 7/03/07: The pools have heated up: 105.9, 105.0, 100.7 and 98.7.
Saturday 6/16/07: I've updated the pool temperatures page. The lagoon is now a refreshing 64-degrees.
I encountered a guy yesterday that came to Cougar to inspect the pools and plan putting in concrete cement. Apparently he has a friend who "does that kind of work." I asked him who had suggested this and he said Maria. He said "I have been taking care of the pools for 30 years." Sounded like self-promotion hype to me. I don't recall ever seeing him before (in my 1500 previous visits to Cougar over 16 years). I later checked with Chip of Hoodoo and learned he had no knowledge of this guy and his plans.
I told him "just to let you know, there is huge opposition to putting any concrete cement in the pools." He replied that it didn't matter, that it was up to "Forestry." Maria has a history of lobbying the Forest Service and sometimes getting what she wants. In 1989, she advocated and obtained the night closure. She sometimes differs from the opinions of most Cougar visitors. She did not oppose the ban on nudity at the key meeting in 1998, saying, "I don't care." 99.8% of 500 visitors who answered the anonymous check-box surveys opposed a ban on nudity, yet the Forest Service was adamant that they would ban it. Friends of Cougar narrowly prevailed in late 1998 to stop the ban on nudity that was to take effect in 1999. Maria currently works for Hoodoo and the Forest Service.
His plan is to have his friend get a contract to put concrete mortar between the rocks, to cement the rocks in place. He said that the pool 1 retaining wall (he didn't use that word, but I knew what he meant) if not cemented will be trouble. He repeated several times, "somebody is going to get killed." It was ridiculous (and I told him) that even if the wall started to collapse that anyone would be killed.
This guy was promoting the idea of the pools sometimes being cold in the winter as the reason for the cement. My understanding is that Maria wants the concrete cement to seal the spaces between the rocks so there are no crevices she can't reach into with a scrub brush while cleaning. I have explained to her in the past that there is no need to fear the unreachable "gunk" in the crevices. The "gunk" is algae which eat bacteria, and actually help keep the pools safe. There's nothing in the gunk that will harm us, as long as the algae can thrive and eat the bacteria.
The pools have been sealed with mud, moss and algae for decades, if not centuries, and there is no need for concrete.
Saturday 6/9/07: A perfect day at Cougar! The weather was misty to sprinkles, with the landscape a lush wet green. Ideal weather at the Hot Springs. Wonderful people, wonderful vibe! I also stayed into the evening until nearly 2am and it was a peaceful vibe and met some more great people. By being there, I wanted to get a first-hand experience of what I heard was rowdy parties and see what the law enforcement style was now. But there was no law enforcement arrival last night. And I had a superb soak that included Tibetan chanting in the cave with three new friends.
The other good news: no car break-ins in at least a week.
Tuesday 6/5/07: There were car break-ins with windows broken at the parking lot last Wednesday and Saturday nights. Saturday night's break-ins occurred between 2:30 and 3:30am. In some cases, windshields were also broken.
Monday 5/28/07: Uncrowded this morning and Saturday morning, but Sunday was a record-breaker. 228 visitors (including 15 w annual pass) from 8am to 8pm. There are currently a total of 85 annual-pass holders.
Wednesday 5/23/07: Several alarming events recently. Chip reports that he found broken glass in the parking lot from 2 car windows yesterday. Night-time break-ins apparently. And that he found two wallets on the trail. He says there has been night-use occurring frequently in May and now there is a wave of crime connected with the night-use. The two wallets were stolen from the clothes-rack at around midnight. Money was taken, and the wallets with their IDs and credit cards were discarded on the trail by the thieves.
I listened yesterday to a first-hand report from a young man who was on the trail to visit the Springs at 5:30am Mother's Day and was attacked. He had heard loud voices coming from the trail. Some guys were leaving the Springs, coming down the trail, and one was dragging something. He told me he accidentally brushed against whatever was being dragged. The guy turned around and followed him down the trail. Then the victim was surrounded by the entire group of 3 guys, and punched two or three times in the face and head. The victim left the Springs and reported the incident to the Sheriff's department. He believes they were high on meth.
It was good to see Don return to the Springs last Saturday. Apparently sober with no beer onhand, he was talking in a voice of normal volume. Thanks Don!
Saturday 5/12/07: It was a delightful afternoon at the Hot Springs.
A "Don-free day." I think he was absent because Chip and I spoke with him a few days ago and insisted he must stop being intoxicated at the Springs. Intoxication impacts awareness. When Don's hammered his chatter becomes increasingly loud and the topics often rude. He doesn't realize when people are tired of listening to him and want to end the conversation. Being sensitive to the needs of others is why alcohol is prohibited at the Springs. While pleasant conversation is fine, we all want to relax and having the self-restraint to make this a peaceful place is what we all desire.
We encouraged Don to soak sober.
Friday 5/11/07: Photo on the home page was taken today. Top 3 pools are 103, 99 and 95.5-degrees.
Saturday 4/28/07: A great day today at Cougar. The pools have warmed with the top pool now 102. There was a larger than normal number of people, but everyone was very considerate of each other and it was fun and still relaxing. Around 5pm, several groups arrived and at one time between the pools and surrounding we had a record-breaking 47 people! Visitors included a group of 10 from UO and two runners from Kansas City racing in Sunday's Eugene Marathon.
Thursday 4/19/07: Beautiful weather today at Cougar. Top 2 pools are 99.6 and 96.6-degrees.
Saturday 3/3/07: Happy full moon - tonight. Historic Log Cabin Inn to be rebuilt.
Sunday 2/11/07: Thanks to Vladimir for this update: I was at the springs last time on Saturday January 27. There were very nice people and the top pool was perfect for soaking. The road was a little difficult to drive (some compressed snow and ice). I suppose now most of the ice should have melted and there was no new snow recently.
Saturday 2/10/07: I'm still in Costa Rica.
Email me with conditions at Cougar and I will post the info here.
Friday 11/17/06: ALL THE POOLS ARE COLD!! Given the extended rain forecast, Cougar Hot Springs will not be warm enough to enjoy until sometime in December or January.
I will be traveling from Dec 1 to Jan 4. During that period there will be no updates to the news and temperatures.
Thursday 11/16/06: It nows seems unlikely that even the top pool will be warm enough for at least 2 to 3 weeks, given how cold the water coming out of the cave is (102-degrees) and the weather forecast for the next 10 days. On Tuesday, the top pool was only a chilly 80-degrees, far below body temperature. The cold stream was a torrent and cold water was seeping into both the cave and the top pool from the rain-saturated hillside.
Tuesday 11/14/06: The pools are COLD! Recent rain has been intense. The pools will not be warm until perhaps Saturday.
Sunday 11/12/06: Everything's great at Cougar. Pools are cooler now with top pool 101.8 degrees. Pool 2 is 98.7 degrees.
Wednesday 11/1/06: Crossing the river at Umpqua Hot Springs is now easier than a few months ago. There is a new, wider (fallen tree) bridge.
Monday 9/18/06: Recent reports say the bridge is out at Umpqua Hot Springs. Some are using a fallen log across the river for passage. Everything is great at Cougar Hot Springs. But the chilly nights have cooled the lagoon significantly below pleasant swimming temperatures.
Monday 9/4/06: The lagoon water is now slightly cooler - 68-degrees. A woman from Maui brought her parrot to the pools. Hoodoo reports Saturday saw high attendance. 100 paying visitors after 1pm.
Friday 9/1/06: Happy Labor Day weekend! Everything is great at Cougar. Pools are clean and wonderful temps. Nice sun on the beach and skinny dipping in the Cougar lagoon - 75-degrees.
Sunday 7/30/06: Fire near Sisters has closed scenic highway 242 from Sisters/Bend.
Friday 7/28/06: Cougar lagoon swimming ideal. Water is 75-degrees. Horseflies are gone.
Saturday 7/22/06: Horseflies prevalent now. The lagoon is really warm and wonderful for swimming.
Wednesday 7/19/06: Current swimming water temperatures: Blue River Lake 74-degrees. Cougar lagoon 73-degrees. Nudity is permitted on the trail, sunbathing beach and in the lagoon.
Sunday 7/16/06: Uncrowded even on weekends generally in summer at Cougar since day-use and camping fees began. Few horseflies this summer. The swimming lagoon is now 70-degrees. New cold plunge is 69-degrees.
Thursday 7/6/06: Oregon Country Fair Friday through Sunday. Watching Rocks Grow: Theory Explains Landscape Of Hot Springs
Monday 6/26/06: Blue River Lake warm swimming. Now 76-degrees.
Wednesday 6/21/06: Happy Summer Solstice!
Monday 6/19/06: Some mobilize to seek safe access to the woods and waters where thieves strike
Sunday 6/18/06: Happy Father's Day! More comments on concrete
Saturday 6/17/06: Comments received on concrete idea.
Friday 6/16/06: The meeting about concrete with Hoodoo is actually next Thursday. I was mistaken. I did, however, deliver to Hoodoo the comments I received from Friends of Cougar. I was delighted by how many well written comments I received. They all reinforced my view that people don't want concrete in the pools. I hope to get them posted here, once I have obtained permission from their authors.
I had a discussion with Michael yesterday about the concrete issue. He has cleaned the pools with Maria in the past and knows her well. It seems that Maria is focused on the nooks and crannies, the spaces between the rocks. He says that if there is algae between the rocks that can't be scrubbed, the pools aren't clean. I disagree. This is the crux of the issue. It apparently isn't so much the siphoning effort, it is the belief that it is unacceptable to have unscrubbed rock surfaces hidden in the walls of the dams. Although most people in their homes would not tolerate having cupboards that couldn't be cleaned, they certainly wouldn't clean under the floor boards.
The question of what needs to be cleaned and what is clean is the issue. Thankfully she hasn't insisted that the inside of the cave be scrubbed.
The main reason for concrete: to eliminate hidden and hard to reach surfaces for the purpose of cleanliness.
My guess is there's only one person that has complained about the cleanliness of the pools since Maria stopped cleaning and Hoodoo took over. When I was there yesterday, the top pool looked great. Nice and clear water. The pools hadn't been cleaned (by Hoodoo) in a week. There is considerable sediment in pools 3 and 4, but this is mainly because of reworking the dams. Michael did an excellent job with Andre of rebuilding the retaining wall of pool 3. The pool is now larger and deeper than ever.
So the meeting is next week. I think the comments from Friends of Cougar members will enlighten the discussion, and we'll probably turn our attention next to deciding whether or not the spaces between the rocks need to be scrubbed. I think not. Maria thinks yes. What do you think?
You might be interested to know that up until 1998, throughout the '90s when we cleaned, we didn't scrub at all. We just vacuumed out the pools. I do agree scrubbing the rocks of algae helps keep the pool water clear, but it's possible to carry that too far. The main tools is siphoning, which removes debris in the bottom that clouds the pool when stirred up and in the lower pools is unpleasant to sit on, especially when one worries it may contain small foreign objects. So the good news is the emphasis for change does not appear to be so much the siphoning, and perhaps we can worry less about Hoodoo wanting to put in drains, and focus on the reality that we don't need concrete to close the spaces between the rocks.
You know how I feel. But how you feel is what's more important. I will continue to welcome your opinions at [email removed due to spam.]
Sunday 6/11/06: Hoodoo was pleased with a big turn out Memorial Day weekend. They had nearly 150 visitors on Saturday, each paying $5, the busiest day of the 3 day weekend.
Hoodoo President Chuck Shepard informed me yesterday that he's considering putting concrete in the pools to make cleaning easier, and even drains in the bottom of each pool. I was shocked, and he knew I would be. He said he wasn't wild about the idea, because it would cost him money.
Of course, anyone who has soaked at Cougar knows this is an insane idea. I told him it should not be done and would be universally opposed. He invited me to meet with him Thursday, joined by Forest Service people to talk about pool cleaning. Apparently some people have complained to him that the pools are not as clean as they were when Maria was cleaning. Maybe this is why he has invited Maria to the meeting. She is the only one I know that wants to put concrete in the pools to assist cleaning. Personally I have cleaned the pools dozens of times and I can tell you we do not need concrete. From what I understand Maria is bothered that there is clay/mud and moss between the rocks. This is what seals the walls of the pools. She finds it difficult to scrub all the nooks and crannies. Chuck claims the concrete would not be visible, that it would be inside the walls and not seen. That makes no sense. If you can't see it, it's not going to be easier to clean, and what makes anyone think algae won't adhere to concrete, perhaps even more strongly than the rocks, which are smoother than concrete. And of course, drains in the bottom of the pools would require concrete that would be seen. Chuck seems to be interested in the pools being easier to clean well, thus lowering the expense and improving the bottom line.
Concrete in the pools is a ridiculous idea. When I told Chuck that Maria is the only one who wants concrete, he replied that I'm the only one he knows who opposes concrete. I know Chuck cares deeply about Cougar being enjoyed by its visitors and about preserving it, but such a frightening remark shows that he's still out of touch with the thousands of hot springs users, and renews the importance of a group like Friends of Cougar to be a voice of hot springs users. I mentioned the idea of concrete in the pools to soakers on 3 occasions yesterday, and they were horrified! In our survey of members last year, 97% opposed concrete in the pools. You can click here for more of the survey results.
People often ask how the pools are cleaned. 3 tools are used: A 20' hose, 4" diameter, scrub brushes and plastic buckets. A siphon is created by filling the hose beneath the pool and throwing the end of the hose so that gravity forces a siphon when the water in the hose begins to exit downstream. The hose with its underwater vacuum is then used to suck debris as the water level drops. During the process, the rocks are scrubbed at the water level where algae is growing. The waterlevel is where the algae can best be seen, while still being wet and easier to clean. The buckets are used to slosh water, removing debris left stranded in crevices. The whole process takes up to 3 hours to do 4 pools. The top pools are done year round, biweekly in the winter and weekly in the summer. Additionally in the summer, the two larger lower pools are also cleaned. The scrubbing and carrying of the hose, especially tossing it just right are the most effort.
Concrete would hardly help cleaning, you would still need to scrub just as much.
In the nightmare scenario: if the pools were ever redone with concrete, Hoodoo might be tempted to block off the flow and use bleach or chlorine to minimize the growth of algae. Sounds crazy, I know, but if you've ever been to Breitenbush, and virtually all commercial hot springs you can see what's been done. At Breitenbush, while the water is natural, there is concrete in the meadow pools and the whole thing has an unnatural feel to it. The lower pools there are concrete (with tile) and bleach or equivalent is used three times a day, during which the pools are drained and cannot be used. At Belknap, the pool is concrete, despite much greater available flow than Cougar. Once weekly at Belknap the pool is drained and cleaned. Then filled, capped off, and chlorinated. The chlorine level is maintained all week in the soaking water, and no new water flows in. Cougar has something both Breitenbush and Belknap do not: a steep slope for gravity to provide good flow through. This not only keeps the pools cleaner, but makes the method of gravity driven hose-siphoning possible.
Algae is not hazardous, it is actually beneficial in one important regard: algae feeds on bacteria, keeping the level of bacteria low and safe. People generally feel better though when they are soaking in clear water, and algae when it breaks lose from the rocks can cause the pool to become cloudy. There is no harm in algae remaining in difficult to reach crevices.
The method of cleaning the pools that we've been using for decades is entirely satisfactory. All that would be saved by having drains in the bottom of the pool would be about 30 minutes weekly (2 people; $20). Concrete or even drains would ruin much of what makes Cougar special. $20 of labor weekly is a small price for hundreds of soakers each week to enjoy the natural beauty and aesthetic feel of one of the world's best remaining natural hot springs.
Monday 5/22/06: A pleasant afternoon at Cougar on Sunday, spiced up by a short thunderstorm with hail the size of macadamia nuts (some 5/8" in diameter). Hail storms are rare in this area, and this was the largest hail I've seen in the ten years I've been living in Oregon. Very exciting. In other news, Maria Jensen has decided to end her pool cleaning contract with Hoodoo for personal reasons. For many years, Maria did an excellent job of cleaning the pools weekly in the summer and biweekly in the winter. From what I understand, Hoodoo now plans to have its staff do the cleaning in the course of their regular maintenance work.
Tuesday 5/9/06: Everything's great at Cougar, but Deer Creek is messed up. My guess is they let more water leave the dam upriver. The Deer Creek temp has dropped to just 85-degrees, so it's not warm enough to soak now.
Saturday 4/29/06: The sweet scent of spring is in the air. Beautiful sunshine and blue sky forecast at Cougar for the next 10 days. The top pool is topping 105-degrees and the lower pools are now warm enough to enjoy as well. There is a new item of information on this News page, "Top Pool:" temperature. It is updated daily, using a formula that estimates the Top Pool temperature based on recent air temperatures and the rainfall for the past 60 days. I had been posting the temperatures only about once per week, and now you will know the current pool temperature right up to the present day.
Monday 4/17/06: It was a glorious weekend at Cougar! Both were "Don-free Days" and people had fun, relaxed and enjoyed themselves. I don't recall seeing any alcohol and certainly no one was drunk and talking loudly for hours. Thank you Don for making our weekend wonderful!
Saturday 4/15/06: Michael's fine work on pool 2 has increased its depth.
Sunday 4/9/06: Deer Creek Hot Springs (aka Bigelow) currently just 94-degrees. Barely warm enough to soak - luke warm. Will be increasingly warm in the coming months this spring and summer as rain tapers off.
Friday 4/7/06: If you were planning to soak this weekend and you like pool 2, you might want to postpone your visit to Cougar. Pool 2 is in the process of being rebuilt so it's going to be very shallow for the next several days, and there may be some noise from the construction.
Thursday 3/30/06: Happy Birthday to our resident poet Paul Lehman, turning 75. Historic Log Cabin Inn, McKenzie Bridge destroyed by fire.
Monday 3/20/06: Monday 3/20/06: Happy first day of Spring!
Friday 3/17/06: Happy St. Patrick's Day . The road to Cougar is now no problem. Most snow and ice has melted.
Sunday 3/12/06: I've been told the road to Bagby Hot Springs is washed out several miles from the Hot Springs, so it is currently inaccessible by car. This obstacle will most likely continue for several weeks. Most of the snow on the road to Cougar melted Saturday, but there are still places that are slippery with snow and ice.
Friday 3/10/06: Snow at Cougar has created hazardous driving conditions on the approach road. 8" of snow on the road with a single track. 4-wheel drive required.
Thursday 3/9/06: Today at Cougar it's snowing!
Sunday 2/26/06: Cougar was overflowing with friendly people today. There were 18 people (including 2 kids) soaking in pool 2 at one time. Perhaps a new record. Ten Americorps volunteers, the whole Eugene group, enjoyed their first visit and they had fun. One turned to me and said "Are people always this friendly here?" It was a great day!
Tuesday 2/21/06: At Cougar today it's lightly snowing. Use extreme caution around the pools. Ice covers some of the stepping rocks. Photos from Sunday.
Tuesday 2/14/06: Happy Valentine's Day! At Cougar today it's gently snowing. There was a partial collapse of the ceiling of the cave! Rocks still block crawling fully in the cave now.
Thursday 2/9/06: Top pool 100-degrees. Pool 2 98-deg. Pools were cleaned this morning for first time in 5 weeks. First time in 7 weeks for pool 2. Volunteers have been supplying plenty of tp to the parking lot restrooms and taking out the trash.
Tuesday 2/7/06: The pools are warmer than warm enough now. A beautiful week of sunshine and blue sky.
Saturday 2/4/06: CNN covers Colorado hot springs.
Wednesday 2/1/06: Due to rain Monday and Tuesday, the pools were not warm enough today. Top pool just 93-degrees. Road clearing work with machinery began Monday and will continue through Sunday. You will be able to drive past the landslide if the lane is free of debris, depending on the state of removal by the machine operator. He often can move his equipment out of the way for you or is away hauling a truckload of rock. There may be times when you have to wait up to 30 minutes.
Based on the weather forecast, I expect the pools will be warm enough (94 to 95 degrees) to enjoy again by Saturday.
Sunday 1/29/06: The pools should be warm enough today.
Saturday 1/28/06: A very pleasant day today at Cougar. Great people. The pools are just barely warm enough, so if it rains heavily tonight or tomorrow they will most likely not be warm enough Sunday, otherwise they will be.
Sunday 1/22/06: The top pools were 98.6 and 100.4 yesterday. With 4 days of sunshine starting today, the pools will continue to increase daily in temperature. Apparently the Forest Service told Hoodoo the Springs were closed because of the landslide, so they haven't been doing any maintenance for the past 10 days. The parking lot toilets are in dyer need of cleaning. Volunteers have been taking out the trash. I'm taking up more tp today. The road is clear of any ice or snow now.
Thursday 1/19/06: Work has been done to clear enough room for cars to pass the landslide, so now there is no problem getting around it. The top pools are a pleasant 97 and 98-degrees.
Monday 1/16/06: Sunday the top pools warmed to 97 and 99.6. A small amount of the debris has been cleared from the landslide and some driver's are electing the narrow, rough, rocky and risky passage around the landslide. Four women set perhaps a new record for number of people together in the cave. It was a delightful afternoon of gentle, friendly people.
Sunday 1/15/06: The pools are getting warmer. Yesterday they were barely warm enough. The top pools were 95.5 and 97.1 degrees. There were only 3 of us there from 11am to 1pm. Then a dozen people on average until 4pm. All of us hiked in (see landslide info below).
Friday 1/13/06: A landslide on FS 19 road has blocked vehicle access 2.4 miles from the Springs parking lot. Because some of the boulders are so large, they will have to blast to break up the rocks. The Forest Service anticipates the road will not be clear until sometime around the end of the month! It is possible to park at the landslide and hike (5 miles roundtrip) to the Springs. Right now, the pools may not be warm enough to enjoy, due to the heavy recent rain. The last pool temperatures readings were taken Monday.
Friday 1/13/06: Pierce Brosnan (007 James Bond) and Liam Neeson filming near McKenzie Bridge
Tuesday 1/10/06: The pools are not hot. The steady rain has caused them to cool to below body temperature this week.
Saturday 1/7/06 6pm: Warmer than I expected, the top pools are 99-101 degrees. Not hot, but warm enough to be very pleasant. I would guess they'll be this way on Sunday, too.
Saturday 1/7/06 2am: It's likely even the top pools will not be warm enough to enjoy this weekend. It rained heavily overnight and rain is forecast for both today and Sunday.
Thursday 1/5/06: The road to Cougar is now clear. No snow, but a few patches of ice. The top pools are now just warm enough to enjoy.
Tuesday 1/3/06: Happy New Year! The Springs are probably not warm enough to enjoy today, due to the onslaught of rain over the past two weeks. But I haven't been to the Springs in two weeks, so I can't be sure. I will post an update as soon as I know more. There may also be snow or ice on the road. If you have been to the Springs recently, please email me its status. There is a link at the top of this page. Thanks.