Jack Hughes was the Hurricane Ridge Ranger from 1965 to his retirement from the NPS in 2005. He then spent several years as a volunteer Ranger. He was a Ranger’s Ranger, loved the Ridge, and had a goal to ski 1,000 miles every year, which he did until very recently.Rod Farlee spoke with Jack about the history of Waterhole and its removal. Jack calls removal of Waterhole a "clandestine operation".
The Chief Ranger approved a winter-use ski hut at Waterhole requested by a local group of active crosscountry skiers: John Phillips, Dr. Seimens (deceased), Dr. Bob Allman, Nels Lingveldt, and John Sextet.
It was designed in 1968 to be easily removable. 2 halves bolted together, each half easily trailerable.
Waterhole was an automobile campground, converted to picnic area because it had limited water (no well).
Superintendent found out and "got unglued" then "trouble", but skiers were "politically connected", "sort of a truce was signed".
Jack laughs at ONP’s contention that it was "only a playhouse in someone's backyard". Waterhole was designed to be disassembled into 2 halves which could be trailered out each summer. It went in for the 1968-9 ski season. In the summer, it was stored in a backyard and kids may have played in it.
Rogers C B Morton was Secretary of the Interior. His wife visited Alps, saw ski huts, in 1970 Morton wrote to NPS "We need ski huts for kids get out in winter". Superintendent Roger Allin proudly wrote back "We already have
one!” reversed his position, told skiers "Don't take it out next summer. It's approved" as a permanent year-round structure.
NPS raised it to create the woodshed area and put shakes on it to replace original tar paper. It had 4 or 5 woodstoves over the years, all purchased by donations. It was so popular had a lottery and waiting list for weekends.
There has been at least two serious injury incidents in which waterhole played a role in a successful rescue. Once, a skier broke his leg - femur - so the group jury-rigged skis into a sled and got him into Waterhole. Next day, came back with a sled to get him out. In another incident Ranger Mike Butler broke his ankle beyond the Waterhole. He was transported to the hut on a primitive sled, and he was then brought out on a better sled that same night.
Superintendent Chandler made sure the proposed Wilderness boundary excluded Waterhole. This exclusion later also allowed the SNOTEL site to be installed.