Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Regaining ground in the park, the NPS makes its move

The skies parted for a while today and the mountain finally revealed itself. Plastered ice and snow coated the upper 3-4,000 feet, seen here from a recently improved view point near Kautz Creek. Everything below 9-10,000 feet appeared thin and icy, i.e. very little winter snowpack, see below. Rumor has it, another storm is on the way. I hope it brings colder temps.

I snapped this image late today before the clouds returned. That is the Nisqually Glacier on Mt Rainier, the trails of the Paradise area in the foreground. The glacier ice looked really blue after the intense rain, and the mountain looked awesome.

For 24 hours, this was a place that people simply left. Today, the NPS resummed its plan to restore facilities and order to the park after 18 inches of rain fell at Paradise in 36 hours. The level of the primary rivers and tributaries remains high and it's very easy to note the newly scoured banks and freshly deposited log jams along the river corridors.

There was a noticeable change to the silence as the restoration effort moved forward. Electricians, water treatment specialists, and heavy equipment operators returned to Longmire and other parts of the park to assess the damage and begin the repairs. Highway 410 will open soon (probably Thursday) but the Carbon River road, Highway 123 and the Nisqually to Paradise road will remain closed (probably for a few weeks).

We surveyed the storm damage from the air this afternoon. The main hits were taken at Sunshine Point, Stevens Canyon (in somewhat predictable locations, see photo above-left) and on Highway 123 (left) where the road washed out entirely. The damage to Highway 123 looked severe given the time of year; I wonder if it won't be fully sorted out until 2007. At the Sunshine Point washout, I saw earth movers in the remains of the campground (now river bed). They were trying to make things happen for the road to Longmire, but the job seemed large because the road was entirely gone.

The sound of silence approaches, as soon the generators will be turned off for the evening.