Torrential rains overnight on September 18 unleashed a massive debris slide in the Capricorn Creek drainage near Meager Creek, knocking out a bridge and over 200 metres of road. The washout is roughly five kilometres away from the hot springs and access to the popular getaway is closed until further notice.
Nobody was hurt and there was no loss of property as a result of the slide, but three people who had hiked to Harrison Hut and Overseer Mountain were trapped on the other side of the creek. They were forced to abandon their Nissan Pathfinder on the Meager Creek side of the road and wade across the creek to the other side where they were able to get a ride.
While the Meager Creek Hot Springs are typically busy on a weekend the Ministry of Forests and Range made the decision more than five years ago to move the campground away from the hot springs to the Lillooet Forest Service Road because of concerns over floods and slides in the area. As a result the gates to the Meager Creek Forest Service Road- usually open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily - were still closed when the slide occurred.
The Capricorn Creek bridge was knocked out in July 1998 by a massive debris slide which closed the road for more than a year. The bridge to the hot springs was washed out by a massive flood in October 2003, resulting in an almost five-year closure of the hot springs.
The area is still being assessed by geoscientists after the latest debris slide and it's not likely that the bridge will be replaced until next year.
"The hot springs are closed because right now our operator can't get in, or the public for that matter," said Norbert Greinacher, recreation officer for the Sea to Sky Forest District.
"(The bridge) is likely going to be replaced, but it's not likely to happen this year. In the interim we've closed access for hunters, hikers, or anyone going back there, like mushroom pickers.
"It's still possible to walk in, but that's not something we would recommend. There are rocks that are loose and the mud is as deep as your waist. It's a wide debris field, and it's just not a safe area to be in right now... The gate is closed and it's not going to reopen until the road is fixed."
The Ministry of Forests maintains the bridges and the Meager Creek Forest Service Road, which branches off the Upper Lillooet FSR at the 39 th kilometre.
David Southam, operations manager for the forest district, says that signs have been put up on the Lillooet FSR to notify people of the slide, as well as on the Elaho Valley FSR where there is a trail to the Meager Hot Springs over the Thousand Lakes Plateau.