Thursday, November 04, 2010

Buckeye Gets Washed Out!

The first time we visited Buckeye Hot Springs was during the camp out that Melissa organized with the vwcamperfamily (although only Melissa, Blake and Shelby, and us came - and that's OK!). It was early October, just as the first leaves on the aspen and cottonwood trees were turning yellow, but before the first snow of the season. And I mean literally right before the first snow of the season, because the day after we left the campground, Hwy 120 was closed for the first time that fall, due to snow. The first snow is always exciting and makes me think of skiing!

Near Buckeye Hot Springs
A dusting of snow on the Sierras near Buckeye.

Buckeye is right next to the Buckeye Creek, which swells when the rains come in the fall. Since the hot spring pools are made from rocks and sand, piled up to catch the hot spring water that flows over a travertine overhang, they wash out when the creek breaks its bank. I guess that's what happened between early October and late October. Because when we visited there again on Halloween weekend, the lower coolest pool had vanished, and the middle pools had become one, with part of a wall demolished. Cold creek water was rushing in, and the pool became shallow due to sediment build up when the creek ran through it, I assume. We clearly had a job on our hands if we wanted to soak here. But all we had was our hands. We didn't bring a shovel or bucket or anything that would've made it easier.

Buckeye Hot Springs
The source of hot spring water at Buckeye - a hot water fall!

Even though it was close to freezing outside, we got to work, taking stones from the creek and piling them on the demolished sections of the pool walls to first hold the hot water in. Then we started digging the pool deeper, scooping sandy sediments from the bottom and using it like mortar to keep the rock wall more solid. Eventually, we finished repairing the middle two pools and they were holding a lot more water than when we first arrived. It was more fun than work! We were the only ones there all morning.

Buckeye Hot Springs
The morning sun and steam at Buckeye.

The last time we were here, Romy talked to one local (kind of) young guy who said that he cross country skis to Buckeye once the snow gets really deep. Its about a 5 mile ski-in. When I heard about that, it got me really excited! I want to do that! Maybe the next time I write about Buckeye, it will be about a ski trip in! I wonder what the spring will be like - will it be washed out again?