Olympic National Park officials closed the retreat, popular with hikers for more than a century.
The Olympic Hot Springs, a wilderness retreat at Olympic National Park popular with hikers for more than a century, were closed by park officials this week after the discovery of a dead man in one of the pools.
The body of Bruce Gunderson, 61, of Silverdale, was found by his three hiking companions in one of the hot springs Monday morning. His death is under investigation but is believed to be from natural causes, said Rainey McKenna, public-information officer for the park.
Rangers removed Gunderson’s body Monday, and a coroner will determine the cause of death.
The hot springs have been a go-to destination for weary hikers since they were first developed with tent cabins in 1910. By the 1920s, furnished cabins and a resort lodge and large swimming pool attracted visitors, who hiked the 2.5 miles to the hot springs from the Boulder Creek Trailhead in the Elwha Valley. A road allowed horseback or foot travel to the hot springs by 1930.
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The springs are created by the Calawah fault zone, producing water ranging in temperature from lukewarm to 138 degrees Fahrenheit in 21 hot seeps.
The park service closed and razed what was left of the resort facilities in 1966 after a heavy snowfall collapsed the roofs of most of the buildings.
But the wilderness hot springs have continued to be sought out by hikers ever since, mounding rocks to improvise pools in the woods. The park service does not maintain the pools or test or treat the water, and discourages use of the hot springs. But the natural people’s spa in the woods remains a popular retreat.
“It is not determined how long the closure will be, but it is not permanent,” McKenna said. The Boulder Creek campground remains open.