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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Snow report, April 27, 2013--N. Fork Cascade River

It's been too long since I've done a snow report, so here it is.  Based on  my ski experience this winter, and especially my last trip to the S. Fork Stillaguamish valley on March 22, I thought this was a great snow year because the Big Four picnic area was still under about a meter of snow.  At that time, I shared my thoughts with Mauri Pelto, who was quick to point out the SnoTel data from Lyman Lake was rather average, with a snow water equivalent of about 55 inches.
I decided to travel farther afield this time, to see how the snowpack looks in the N. Fork Cascade River and to enjoy some avalanches.
I was disappointed to find that the snowpack less than average, with only patchy snow and mostly bare road all the way to Midas Creek.  Only just below the Boston Basin trailhead does the snow get consistently over a half-meter.  It is evident that the S. Fork Stilly received way more snow at low elevations than did the Cascade River system.  This is something of a mystery, considering the peaks that surround the Cascade are basically 2,000 to 3,000 feet higher than those above the Stilly.  I attribute it to the orientation of the valley, and its proximity to the ocean--the Stilly resides in the Puget Sound convergence zone, with no other mountains to intercept the moisture.  The Cascade is "downstream" from the Stilly and thus doesn't receive as much moisture.

As you can see, the upper reaches of the North Cascades appear to have a healthy snowpack, but in reality it is appearing to be an average year, despite a cool Spring (The National Weather Service noted that the streak of days in Seattle below 70 F ended this past week at 197 days--the longest streak is 228 days from Sept 29th to May 13th, 2000).

Still, the skiing was just great, with the warm temps softening the snow perfectly such that I was whooshing along until well after sunset.  I should note that I was alone up there--the ski tracks you see were made by me.  A party of three was up on Eldorado, and a party of four skiers was in Boston Basin, but I had the valley to myself.  Oh darn!

Only a handful of respectable avalanches, certainly no big ones despite three days of 70 degree weather and snow level above 9,000 feet.  The weather turned, but not until I was drivinig home--yay!  Needless to say, I'll be back up next weekend if the weather is good...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bus service between Lucerne on Lake Chelan and Holden Village will operate weekends only, beginning May 1st

As the Holden Mine remediation work begins in earnest this summer, transportation that in past years ran all week up Railroad Creek road from Lake Chelan to Holden Village will only be available on weekends. This would effect your plans if you intended to go in to the Glacier Peak Wilderness from the east, up Railroad Creek to Hart or Lyman Lakes, and from there to Spider Gap or Cloudy Pass, or beyond to Image Lake during this the final summer with a shortened Suiattle River Road. Also you will not be able to stay as a guest at Holden Village this summer or next, since all guests are volunteer workers during that time and the rest of the rooms are occupied by remediation workers. There's a nice campsite just west of the Village that remains open, however.

For background on the Holden Mine remediation, see the current issue of NCCC's journal The Wild Cascades, at NCCC has been following the environmental issues behind this project for some time, and you can find stories on the remediation in these back issues: Winter 2012, Summer/Fall 2011, Spring 2010, and Spring 2009.

Lake Chelan bus access restricted beginning May 1 between Lucerne, Holden
on February 01, 2013 at 3:00 PM, updated February 28, 2013 at 7:41 AM
Hikers need to plan ahead this summer if they plan to use the bus shuttle between Lucerne and Holden on Lake Chelan in Washington.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest says the bus will operate weekends only, beginning May 1.
The bus transportation, operated by the Lutheran community in Holden Village between Lucerne (on Lake Chelan) and Holden, will only operate on Saturdays and Sundays in coordination with the Lady of the Lake boat schedule.
The reduction in the number of bus trips between Lucerne and Holden is a result of increased Holden Mine remediation activities starting this spring.

Holden Mine is an inactive mine located on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest about 50 miles north of the city of Chelan and 12 miles west of Lake Chelan along Railroad Creek.
The Railroad Creek valley offers access to the Glacier Peak Wilderness from the Lake Chelan area and therefore these recent changes affect access to the wilderness area. Remediation (or clean-up) of the Holden Mine is a combined effort of the U.S. Forest Service, Intalco Corporation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington Department of Ecology and Holden Village.
It is the largest remediation project on Forest Service lands in the United States. This spring will mark the first of several heavy construction seasons as part of the implementation phase of the Holden Mine clean-up project.

The popular Glacier Peak Wilderness trail systems, Hart Lake/Lyman Lake Trail No. 1256 and the Pacific Crest Trail No. 2000 will remain open and accessible for through-hikers throughout the implementation phase of the project. A re-route has been constructed for hikers to use between the Holden Village bus drop-off area and the Hart Lake/Lyman Lake Trailhead around the clean-up operations.

Additionally, Holden Village will not be accepting guest reservations between May 1 and Nov. 27 due to the heavy construction in and around the village anticipated this field season.
Hikers will not be able to stay overnight at Holden Village.
The Forest Service campground, located less than a mile west of Holden Village at the entrance to the Glacier Peak Wilderness area, will remain open throughout the remediation activities.
Hikers that had planned to stay at Holden Village as part of a trip into Glacier Peak Wilderness Area can consider camping at the Forest Service campground in order to comply with the Saturday/Sunday bus schedule. Camping is not permitted on the leased grounds around Holden or on Holden Village private property. Holden operates under a special use permit with the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

As a public safety measure during remediation activities, several temporary trail closures have occurred in the Railroad Creek Valley over the last few years. As a result, it is not possible to hike between Lucerne and Holden Village during remediation activities. Hikers must utilize the Holden Village bus transportation on Saturdays and Sundays to access the Hart Lake/Lyman Lake Trailhead and Lucerne.

The following trails and surrounding areas near Holden Village are closed until the implementation phase of the project is complete.

- Lower Railroad Creek Trail No. 1240 is closed from Wilson Creek to the mine tailings located between the 8 and 9 mile points. This means it is not possible to hike to or from Holden Village on this trail while this closure is in effect.
- Goat Trail No. 1245.1 is closed
- Tailings Bypass Trail No. 1240.3 is closed
- Copper Falls Trail No. 1246.1 is closed from Goat Trail intersection for one mile south
- Copper Creek Trail No. 1240.21 is closed
- Miners Interpretive Trail No. 1245 is closed
- Monkey Bear Falls No. 1256 is closed

For information or assistance in planning a trip to the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area via Holden, please contact the Chelan Ranger District at 509-682-4900 for the latest updates on trail closures, re-routes and/or transportation to wilderness trailheads.

For more information about the Holden Mine Remediation Project visit the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website at

For information about the Holden Village operations and transportation visit the Holden Village website at
-- Terry Richard
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