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whitebark
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 8:26 am 
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For Immediate Release

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
2930 Westmore Ave.
Suite 3A
Everett, Wa 98201

New Recreation Program Announced for the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Area

Everett, Washington   April 1, 2019

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualme National Forest in conjunction with the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway Trust is pleased to announce a major new recreational program for the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Area. The plan will involve the construction of a “Via Ferrata” up Garfield Peak and the installation of two zip lines connecting the west summit of Garfield and the Middle Fork Trailhead parking lot.

Ranger Dirk Eisenberg from the North Bend National Forest District explains the genesis of this exciting new recreational program:

“I always thought the recreation opportunities in the lower Middle fork Valley were a bit - how shall I say it - dull. Just a few picnic tables and a boring nature trail.  Then, on a trip to the Italian Alps, I experienced the thrill of traveling on the famous Via Ferrata routes in the Dolomites.  There, I had a sudden inspiration - why not create a world class Via Ferrata route right here in the Cascades!”

A “Via Ferrata”  (Italian for “Iron Path) is a system of steel steps, ladders, pins, and cables that allow unskilled hikers to travel through steep terrain that would normally be the province of skilled mountain climbers. They can have a range of difficulties, varying from easy routes that have abundant hardware to assist climbing, to expert routes that offer little aid other than the protective steel cable.  Via Ferrata routes have become immensely popular in the Alps and lately, in other mountainous areas in the world.

Mid Fork Via Ferrata: fun for the whole family!
Mid Fork Via Ferrata: fun for the whole family!

Ranger Eisenberg discussed his idea with the National Forest district management at a brew pub in Ballard, and after a few pints of IPA, everyone became excited over his Via Ferrata idea. They decided to apply for a grant from the Mountains-To-Sound Greenway Trust to fund its construction.  Their outdoor-loving executives were equally enthusiastic, and the rest, as they say, was history!

Expert level Via Ferrata on Garfield Peak
Expert level Via Ferrata on Garfield Peak

Completion of the plan will involve several phases.  Starting at the top of the newly constructed Garfield Ledge Trail, a system of trails and Via Ferrata hardware will be installed up to the north end of Garfield Peak’s west ridge. This section will be designed with plenty of hardware and an easy difficulty level, so that beginners and families can enjoy the ascent.  During the second phase, an expert-level Via Ferrata will be constructed along the top of the ridge and extending to the summit of the west peak of Mt. Garfield. The picture and map below shows the general layout of the via ferrata system:

via ferrata plan
via ferrata plan
via ferrata plan
via ferrata plan

To save hikers from a tedious descent, two zip lines will be installed that connect the ends of the phase 1 and 2 Via Ferrata routes to the Middle Fork Trailhead parking lot.  These zip lines will be some of the longest and fastest in the world.  Depending on his or her aerodynamics, a zip line user will reach a speed of 100 mph or more, allow the 3800’ descent from the top of Garfield Mountain in a matter of seconds.  Carefully engineered foam block piles at the lower ends of the zip lines will allow a safe and gentle landing.

The zip line will offer a fantastic (though short-lived) view during the descent, much like this one in Whistler, B.C.:

zip line view
zip line view

This picture perfectly shows what the gleeful and thrilled expression of a zip line user will be when she approaches the foam block landing spot at 100 mph!

wheee!
wheee!

Construction of the Garfield Peak Via Ferrata and zip lines will begin in Fall 2019 and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020.
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Backpackapalooza
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 8:48 am 
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Great plan to announce on 4/1. It will open on February 30th, 2020.
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SteeperColder
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 9:13 am 
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Just got my lottery passes for this! pre-sale was sold out this morning on recreation.gov.middlefork.zipline.waitlist.NoParking

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"You can build and build and build, but damn it if your feet don't hurt walking on concrete all day" - Nolan Rad
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BigBrunyon
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 9:16 am 
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Comin' down that zip is considered cheating!!! That doesn't fly in circles I run with!!!! Anyone who does that is weak!!

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i'm better at hiking than most everyone!!! and i know it!!!
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Backpacker Joe
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 9:16 am 
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Backpackapalooza wrote:
Great plan to announce on 4/1. It will open on February 30th, 2020.

LOL! Ya, that would work really well in sue happy America.  That will never happen.

Can I give you a Sure Buddy?

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Brushwork
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 9:55 am 
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I can't wait for this!

Surely more exciting developments will ensue.   We need some accommodations to go with that.  Hotel at the base?   Expanding the hot spring?  A railway up the Middlefork....anything else?

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When I grow up I wanna play.
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puzzlr
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 10:22 am 
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BigBrunyon wrote:
Comin' down that zip is considered cheating!!!

That's the old way of thinking. Now there's a badge for that


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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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nordique
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 11:39 am 
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What a great posting on April Fools Day!   There are a lot of hikes where I've whined about the lack of a zipline for the descent--since my bad right ankle is at its most painful on descents.  I've never tried a zipline but I've loved the via ferrata routes I've done, including the VF at Whistler.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/collections/72157594587284616/
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Bootpathguy
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 1:16 pm 
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Thanks for the confirmation. Really appreciate it. I was hearing whispers about this project. This is exciting news. Good to see a official news release

When I heard rumors of this, they were mentioning a water slide off the north face of Garfield and down into the plunge pool of Otter Falls.

Are they still considering this?


Thanks again

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RichP
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 1:46 pm 
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I knew there must be some way to make money off that big hunk of rock.

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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MtnGoat
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 2:17 pm 
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This is a great idea! To round it out for multiple use, please make the entire route a non leash area for our doggie friends, and include a shooting range near the parking lot.

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Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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BigBrunyon
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 2:20 pm 
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MtnGoat wrote:
include a shooting range near the parking lot.

i thought there already was one of those

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i'm better at hiking than most everyone!!! and i know it!!!
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Stefan-K
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 2:49 pm 
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well if there's going to be a 100mph zip-line, may as well put the shooting range IN the parking lot. There's really not that many places to practice fast draws from the gun rack. This could be it.
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whitebark
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 6:30 pm 
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RichP wrote:
I knew there must be some way to make money off that big hunk of rock.

Funny you mentioned money. Due to the miserable experience caused by the current Enchantments permit system, the Forest Service is going to try something new for the Via Ferrata and zip line time slots. They will simply put them on EBay.  May the highest bidder win!
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BigBrunyon
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PostMon Apr 01, 2019 7:51 pm 
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Not a bad idea for the 'chants permits. Get a biddin' war goin'. For an extra couple hundo it comes with liability insurance and discounted SAR rates!

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i'm better at hiking than most everyone!!! and i know it!!!
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