Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flood updates

Reports are slowly coming in about the damage we sustained from the flooding two weeks ago. In the frontcountry, our crews have restored the road at Kautz Creek, and you can now see, from the road, where the river chose its third channel in two years. Fortunately, the river is once again flowing through the culverts designed for it, rather than over the roadway. At Tahoma Creek, our crews are now working on measures to protect the bridge there.

Like last time, some of the greatest damage in this flood was at Carbon River, where the road lies uncomfortably close to the river channel. The Superintendent issued this statement on Friday:

"Vehicle access is open to barricades located at the county road washout on State Route 165. Parking is extremely limited. From this location it is a 1/2 mile walk to the Carbon River Entrance. Inside the park the Carbon River Road/Trail sustained further heavy damage making hiking hazardous through rough terrain and fallen trees. The park does not recommend attempting to access the area."

It will likely fall to our trail crews to eventually carve a passage through the debris, as they did two years ago. Watch our websites--both this one and the main park website--for updates about access to this area.

Damage on the Fairfax Road outside the park

Damage on the Carbon River road

The Wonderland Trail sustained further damage in Stevens Canyon, mostly on steep slopes that sloughed off in the storm. I'm not sure whether these were some of the same areas affected by the flood two years ago, but they will certainly require repair next summer before being passable for hikers. Volunteers will undoubtedly play a role in these repairs, as they did after the 2006 floods.

The Wonderland Trail near Martha Falls

The new suspension bridge at the Grove of the Patriarchs also was damaged again, though not irreparably this time. However, it remains unstable and is closed to hikers for the time being.

The silver lining in all of this, besides the damage being less than it was in 2006, is that everyone knows how to respond this time. Our road crews responded quickly and efficiently to restore the road at Kautz, and when the time comes (after the winter storms have passed and the snow has melted), our trail crews will do the same. Our volunteer program stands ready to help.

For now, you can help in two ways. First, make sure you're on our mailing list! We'll get back in touch with you next spring as our crews head out on the trails to make their repairs. Keep an eye on this website, too, for all the latest updates about storm damage and repair plans. Second, consider contributing to Washington's National Park Fund or the Washington Trails Association. The latter organization will work in tandem with our own staff to lead volunteer trail reconstruction efforts, and Washington's National Park Fund has committed to supporting the volunteer program as a whole, including our recruitment and youth volunteer efforts.

Thanks for your support, and we'll look forward to working with you on the trails again next spring!

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