[pct-l] More damage to PCT in Oregon

nosirreeb nosirreeb at yahoo.com
Fri May 4 12:39:23 CDT 2007

>From the Thursday May 3 edition of the Salem, OR "Statesman-Journal".
Full article at

(If your interested in the full article, grab it quick because it will
probably be online for only a week or so.)

"... the Pacific Crest Trail will be virtually impassable at Milk
Creek, where it once traversed gargantuan deposits from similar
historic events, but now is blocked by a 50-foot-deep ravine that has
vertical walls on both sides."

Location is in section F about 28 miles north of Santiam Pass - Highway
20. You can see Milk Creek and Pamelia Lake at the top of map F5.

Article highlights:

As the winter snows give way to spring on the west flank of Mount
Jefferson, the ferocity of a massive break-off from Milk Creek Glacier
is being uncovered.

The lush mossy, fern-covered, rhododendron-lined trail through old
growth to Pamelia Lake has mostly vanished, and what remains of it is
no longer paralleled by the gurgles of Pamelia Creek.

Devastating surges of ice, logs, sand and desk-sized boulders have been
occurring for thousands of years in the drainage of Milk Creek -- its
headwaters a steep glacier that clings at a perilous angle to the
mountain -- but none this impressive in at least 150 years.

"It's an event that you know happens naturally, but maybe not in my
lifetime," said U.S. Forest Service hydrologist Dave Halemeier, the
first person to witness the devastation.

"I've been able to see some fun things in my career, but this is one of
the most pretty neat things."

Halemeier, standing where Pamelia Creek historically ran and where a
new creek now rushes to meet it, added: "People think I'm sick because
I get excited about this stuff."

The bottom line for hikers is that the popular walk to Pamelia Lake,
nestled at the southwest base of Mount Jefferson, will be considerably
more difficult and less scenic than they remember it.

And the Pacific Crest Trail will be virtually impassable at Milk Creek,
where it once traversed gargantuan deposits from similar historic
events, but now is blocked by a 50-foot-deep ravine that has vertical
walls on both sides.

Abe Quihuis, wilderness trails manager for the Detroit Ranger District,
won't be able to assess damage to the Pacific Crest Trail until early
June. He estimates the Milk Creek crossing still is under eight feet of

But Halemeier saw it briefly last November, the day he scrambled over
boulders, logs and snow to check out reports of Pamelia Creek running
chocolate into the North Santiam River.

He surveyed the damage, but by the next day, snow was piling up and
Forest Service crews weren't able to re-enter even the lower elevations
of the area until last week.

Quihuis says he hopes to get a new trail opened to Pamelia Lake by
July, and hopes to be able to construct a crossing of Milk Creek on the
Pacific Crest Trail by August.

"I would think that before you see something here that looks anything
like the old trail did it might be two summers," said recreation
forester Rod Stewart, examining the Pamelia Lake Trail for the first


In a push to get the Pacific Crest Trail open this summer, the Forest
Service is asking for a variance from federal rules prohibiting
mechanized equipment in designated wilderness.

"We've proposed to use a small excavator that's just trail-width wide,
and we've asked to be able to do some blasting, because we're expecting
to run into pieces we won't be able to move, even with the excavator,"
Stewart said.

"We'll want to encourage those out of our way with blasting. And we've
asked for permission to fly the excavator in by helicopter."


It has not yet been determined how high the failure occurred on the
glacier, but it's a snow and ice mass that's bergschrund (a split or
crevasse in the ice of a glacier, where the glacier detaches itself
from the mountain) is at the 10,000-foot mark at the base of the
monolith that forms Mount Jefferson's 10,497--foot summit.

>From there the glacier tilts down the mountainside for 2,000 feet,
nearly vertical at the top.

"Where it broke off it's really steep and came down the face of Mount
Jefferson and just wiped out the Pacific Crest Trail," Quihuis said.

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