Forum Index > Trip Reports > Gray Wolf, Olympics - Avalanche, log jam... landslide?
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RodF
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RodF
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PostTue May 27, 2008 10:09 pm 
Landslide up Grand Creek?
Something strange happened to the Dungeness River two weeks ago, when the warm weather hit and the river rose: overnight, it turned as white and opaque as milk!  Not the normal spring runoff turbidity; you couldn't see even one inch into the water.

Checking upstream at Dungeness Forks, the Dungeness was clear, and the Gray Wolf was the source of all the turbidity.  Last weekend, I got up to Three Forks and found the upper Gray Wolf and Cameron Creek are clear, but Grand Creek is still almost milky with fine silt.
Grey Wolf River at Gray Wolf Camp: gorgeous and clear
Grey Wolf River at Gray Wolf Camp: gorgeous and clear
Grand Creek at Three Forks: cloudy!
Grand Creek at Three Forks: cloudy!

I think there must have been a major landslide into Grand Creek two weeks ago.  We'll probably hear about it once the Deer Park-Obstruction Point and Badger Valley trails open up in a few weeks.

Avalanche - upper Gray Wolf
Avalanche!
Avalanche!
...debris below trail
...debris below trail
...and into the Gray Wolf River
...and into the Gray Wolf River

At mile 3.0 on the Upper Gray Wolf trail (0.3 miles above Camp Ellis), the trail disappears beneath what you see above.  Dozens of acres of trees are snapped off on the hillsides above, the trail is still buried beneath ten feet of snow, and acres of debris fill the valley below, right into the Gray Wolf River.

Log jam - upper Gray Wolf
Rivers change, especially after winters with heavy snow packs like this one.  There's a dramatic example on the upper Gray Wolf, about 0.5 miles above Gray Wolf Camp.  Walking up the trail, one is met with this sight:
Is it a stream, or a trail?
Is it a stream, or a trail?
Log jam (background) diverts water onto trail (foreground)
Log jam (background) diverts water onto trail (foreground)
water pouring over and running down trail
water pouring over and running down trail

Fortunately, there's a long, straight Doug fir down alongside the trail, perfectly situated to serve as a temporary footbridge.

...more later

p.s. For Olympics buffs, I wanted to report this sighting... 
the rare Olympic Toroidal Ivory Tree Snail!
the rare Olympic Toroidal Ivory Tree Snail!

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wamtngal
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PostTue May 27, 2008 10:12 pm 
Wow, I've spotted a Rainier Toroidal Brown Tree Snail, but I didn't realize that was the scientific name. Thanks for identifying it for me.

Great pics! Just look at that avalanche debris!  eek.gif

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captain jack
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PostTue May 27, 2008 11:05 pm 
I managed to snap a shot of the rare and intriguing white myself. I have really only noticed this variety on the Gray Wolf.
Slymus Donutis
Slymus Donutis

The reason they are so rare is that they are the preferred food source for the tree octopus, which has a voracious appetite this time of year, and since they roll up the trees so slowly the octopus can pluck them easily with its legs and eat like 8 at a time.  agree.gif

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Phil
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PostWed May 28, 2008 6:54 am 
Wow, intense pictures Rod.   Nice work    up.gif

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sequimjack
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PostWed May 28, 2008 7:47 am 
Rod, thanks for all the great info. I may not head for Cedar Lake any time soon!

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reststep
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PostWed May 28, 2008 8:57 am 
That is an interesting report and pictures Rod.  Thanks for posting it.

Robert Wood talks about that slide area above Camp Ellis in his guide book.

I am curious to find out what happened in Grand Valley.

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"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
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silence
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PostWed May 28, 2008 9:07 am 
thanks rod for all your great reporting and pix .. looks rough up there ... as i suspected ..

btw: we canceled the weekend's trip over the bogus weather reports frown.gif

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RodF
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PostWed Jul 16, 2008 11:50 pm 
As a follow-up on this May report, we just returned from clearing the Three Forks trail (Deer Park to Three Forks and Gray Wolf Camp).  There were 58 trees across it, some tread work worth doing (two rootball tipouts, minor gravel slides, and widening a switchback for stock), and the usual limbing and brushing.

While there, we met hiker Peter Chivers, who showed us these pictures he'd just taken of the debris of a large avalanche on the upper Gray Wolf Trail at about 4400' elevation, a mile above Cedar Creek:
Avalanche, upper Gray Wolf trail
Avalanche, upper Gray Wolf trail

We'd planned to clear this trail on our next trip, July 19-26.  Realizing we had more work ahead of us than we anticipated, we stayed an extra couple days and started clearing trail up the Gray Wolf towards Camp Ellis (including fixing the logjam trail flooding, reported above).  While doing this, hiker Will Anderson came through, and enthusiastically offered to send us a report, with what turned out to be gorgeous high-res photos:
"I've posted photos of the avalanche at this address: Flickr link

"In the couple miles between Cedar Creek and the start of the slide, there's around two dozen down trees, but other than that the trail there's in decent shape. As far as I can tell, the avalanche starts near where the original trail would have crossed the river and began switchbacking southwest up the hillside. As it is, it took a lot of hard bushwhacking to get through/around it and eventually rejoin the trail up in the high meadows. The pass itself is in fine shape, with only a few snowfields covering parts of the trail. As you can see from the photos, the avalanche has brought down a huge amount of debris, all resting on many feet of snow, and covering large areas of the river. Be warned: the mosquitos were a plague. Hope this is some help, and good luck!"


Will added these details:
"After traversing the debris field to about where I thought the trail would have crossed the river, I did a wide arc west & south on the steep forested slopes to avoid the whole mess (perhaps the mess would've been easier in retrospect!) I'd say maybe 1/4 mile of trail is gone at least, and the slide affects several dozen acres in the valley. The switchbacks indicated on my map may be all but gone, and I didn't rejoin the trail until nearly a mile from the avalanche, and hundreds of feet above it.

The trail (or much of the vestiges of it) lies under many feet of snow, which is in turn covered by all the debris you can see in the photos. Considering the depth and hardness of the snow, which all the down trees are sheltering from the sun, I'm not sure what'd be the best plan. I'd say with 6 people in 4 days you might be able to put in a makeshift path round it, but to clear all the snow and debris from the original line of the trail (or my best guess of it) would be a pretty daunting task.

After getting round the avalanche the rest of the trip went nicely, and yes, I went over the pass and down and out the Dosewallips. Ran into a couple of rangers going in to staff the cabins at the Dose Ranger Station and Honeymoon Meadows, and told them the conditions. If anyone coming from your side wants to know, the trail descending from Gray Wolf Pass into the Dose is completely clear."

Whew, sounds like an epic trip!

We also met hiker Larry Magliola, who sent us a report with these photos:

Many thanks, Peter, Will and Larry, for this is your trip report!

Saturday (July 19), we're taking 6 people and packing in with 3 horses, courtesy of Backcountry Horsemen of Washington.  We'll clear the trail up to this avalanche, and will try to clear the approaches both above and below it and flag a route across it.  I'll post a report after we return July 26.  Until then, hikers should be aware that there's quite an obstacle on the Upper Gray Wolf trail!

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Ancient Ambler
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 5:28 am 
That is some wild mess up there.  Thanks for letting us know, RodF, and thanks for going in this coming weekend and following week to tame it as much as it can be tamed.

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bobbi
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 7:25 am 
thanks RodF.....at the other end of deer park road, on wednesday the crew is working on the obstruction point road mess.

i wished they started on monday because it was a jungle gym going through there on tuesday on my overnighter to obstruction peak area.   biggrin.gif

we truly appreciate you and the crew for getting the trails cleaned and sorted out.

thank you very much.

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sarbar
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sarbar
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 8:12 am 
Wow. That is a lot of work ahead. Nasty work. Thanks!

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Scrooge
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 9:18 am 
I missed this the first time, but I'm glad I caught it now.

Great work, Rod, on both description and documentation of the damage. More evidence of what a bad winter it was. I particularly appreciate the cause and effect explanations on things like the flooded trail.

Kudos on the repair work.      up.gif  up.gif      It does sound like you're getting it done, in spite of the extent of the damage. Maybe fixing the mess at Big Four won't be as bad as I've feared.

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RodF
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 11:03 am 
bcfc53 wrote:
thanks RodF.....at the other end of deer park road, on wednesday the crew is working on the obstruction point road mess.

By the way, the "Bell Hill Trail Crew" of volunteers from Sequim are clearing the ~80 logs off the Grand Ridge Trail between Deer Park and Maiden Peak this weekend, too!   up.gif

This is particularly welcome news, as hikers detouring around some of those obstructions would tread on the delicate trailside alpine vegetation, which is what we all go up there to appreciate, and is slow to recover.

A large Student Conservation Association trail crew will be packing into Cameron Creek next week, to work on all the blowdown around the lower Grand Pass Trail area.

Last winter's storms really hit Olympic National Park hard.  I stopped by the Park Trails office yesterday.  It's buzzing like a beehive; they have crews spread all over trying to deal with it.  What a year!

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bobbi
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 11:18 am 
also the trail crew did some clearing along the appleton pass trail.  how much, i don't know.

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ChrisInAKMtns
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 1:35 pm 
My wife and went up the Upper Gray Wolf and up to Cedar Lake on 4th of July weekend.  I actually didn't think the avalanche was all that bad to navigate.

When you come to the avalanche there is a big tangle of downed trees, like a severe blow-down.  We hiked up and around them (not more than a 50" detour off the trail) and popped right back on the trail.  At the chute the trial bends around, and comes to a narrow point to cross at the creek.  Then its just a small scramble over the snow and you're back on the trail.  1/4 of lost trail is an overstatement IMO.  Perhaps only a 100 yards?

Maybe its more difficult to navigate now that more snow has melted but I didn't see any need to hike as far around the avalanche as Will did.

Cedar Lake trail wasn't bad either.  Only a couple of blowdowns to climb over.  The valley up there must be more sheltered from the wind.  I'm sure its ice free by now.  The campsite at the outlet is melted out as well.

The most treturous (sp?) part of the trail is the just-started footlog across the creek that is steep and only planed down for about 8 feet.  It was wet on our way down so we opted for crossing over the logjam just upstream from the log.

I'll try to get pictures posted in the next couple of days for your reference.

Thanks for all of the hard work RodF.  You're crew certainly has its work cut out for it!

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