By Jessi Loerch
Recent major storms washed out a section of road that leads to popular hiking areas in the North Cascades.
Heavy rain created a 15-foot-deep and 60-foot-wide chasm in Cascade River Road. The washout stranded 70 hikers. A temporary road fix allowed those hikers to drive out. The road, though, is now closed and it is not known when it will reopen.
I was disappointed to hear about the washout, as I was planning a hike at Cascade Pass, which the road accesses, in the next month or so. However, the North Cascades National Park Complex is offering alternative hike selections on its Facebook page. I’ll be watching those with interest. I’m always up for a new hike idea.
Hopefully the park service will be able to repair the road soon — although with such a huge washout, who knows. According to a press release, a National Park Service engineer has examined the site.
If you were also planning a hike in that area, you can check for alternatives on the Facebook page, as mentioned, or give the Wilderness Information Center a call at 360-854-7245.
Here’s a press release the park issued Tuesday:
Marblemount, WA – August 13, 2013 – In less than 24 hours after a torrential rain event created a 15 foot deep and 60 foot wide chasm in the popular Cascade River Road, employees of the North Cascades National Park took immediate action, and created a temporary vehicle crossing allowing 70 stranded hikers to drive out of the Cascade Pass trailhead parking lot.
Last Sunday’s rain event washed out the Cascade River Road in the early evening approximately 1 ½ miles down canyon from the trailhead forcing hikers to spend Sunday night and part of Monday at the trailhead. While the hikers were stranded during Sunday night, National Park Service Rangers were on site assisting the public.
On Monday, the National Park Service provided food, water, and medication to the stranded hikers through the use of a helicopter. According to hikers who exited the area after the temporary fix was completed, “The National Park Service was very accommodating to our needs, and worked really fast to get us out.” Another hiker commented that she “was surprised at how soon she was able to drive out of the trailhead given the huge size of the wash-out.”
The Cascade River Road is closed to vehicle access at the Eldorado parking lot (mile post 20) until a more permanent repair can be completed, but foot traffic will be allowed adding three additional miles of hiking to reach the Cascade Pass parking lot and trailhead. A National Park Service engineer is assessing the situation in more depth today (Tuesday).