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whitebark
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 6:46 pm 
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Today I took advantage of the a break in the weather to check things out in the Mid Fork valley. The road blockade has been moved to the Pratt Bar  Trailhead.  The post in the locked thread stating that the closure was at the Oxbow trailhead is wrong. It is about a 3/4 mile walk to get to the former blockade near the landslide and the CCC road trailhead.  I imagine that this blockage relocation will keep most of the looky-loos away from the landslide area.  I didn't take a close look at the landslide, but I thought I could see that some of the crazily leaning trees may have fallen down on the road. It also appeared that the road itself may have slumped a little more.

The walk from Pratt Bar to the old blockade on the closed road is actually quite scenic and pleasant. Think of the road as a 40 foot wide hiking trail now. There are good views of the surrounding peaks and the sight of the river running at 9,000 CFS is impressive.
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Brushwork
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 9:33 pm 
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Thank you for the update Whitebark.  It IS impressive when the MFS is high!

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nordique
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 11:58 am 
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Pratt River Bar:  mile nine, I think.  A good walk for someone on a crutch, I think!
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puzzlr
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 11:20 pm 
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Yes - exactly at the 9 MP sign. The slump continues to slowly sink, nothing dramatic since the first big slump on 12/20. Trees continue to fall on the unstable slopes above the road. The slide itself hasn't moved in the last 10 days.

Closure moved back to the Pratt River bar
Closure moved back to the Pratt River bar
Bessemer Slide. Two more trees have fallen.
Bessemer Slide. Two more trees have fallen.

I walked down to the river edge to figure out why this spot is perennially so unstable. There is a thick clay later at river level below the slumping area. It must be eroded faster every time the river gets really high like this. That encourages the water seeping under the slump area to carry away material underground (resulting in holes) and undermines the toe of the slope causing a small amount of bulk sliding down toward the river (resulting in cracks).

clay bank by river
clay bank by river

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Mid Fork Rocks ē flickr
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 10:31 am 
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Same thing that caused the Oso slide, and the Mid Fk Trail closure (still closed, isn't it?).

I enjoyed this article abou t the Mid Fk valley, by Rick McGuire of ALPS (and who was instrumental in the Garfield Ledges trail). Good detail of the clayey/platey soils & topography.

A rockís job is to get to the nearest ocean trench and jump in so it can morph. Our mountains are continually seeking their point of repose.

Itís maddening and heart-wrenching sometimes (Kennedy Hotsprings area for instance), but itís kinda cool to see it.

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Damian
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 11:39 am 
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Kim Brown wrote:
A rockís job is to get to the nearest ocean

Like us.
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nordique
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 1:24 pm 
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Thanks so much for the link to that fantastic article!
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zephyr
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 7:51 pm 
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nordique wrote:
Thanks so much for the link to that fantastic article!

Yes!  If you hadn't said something nordique I would have missed it.  That is a great read. 'Explains so much about the natural history of the Middle Fork and the challenges for roads and trails there.  Thanks, Kim.  ~z
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hatchetation
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PostSun Feb 09, 2020 10:31 pm 
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Bessemer Road slid sometime in the last week. About half-way between the gate and the CCC trail. Still passable on foot, for now.

About 375m NW of the slide, there's another area which looks like it's been active. I didn't see it close-up, but it looked like a bunch of sand and gravel has moved and flowed.

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Sore Feet
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PostMon Feb 10, 2020 7:02 pm 
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There were barricades just past Valley Camp as of this past Saturday.  Only blocking one half of the road so while it was possible to go around, it was pretty clear that the county didn't want people going up there.

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Roly Poly
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PostMon Feb 10, 2020 7:20 pm 
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Where is Valley camp?  Is this by Bessemer Mt?
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Brushwork
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PostMon Feb 10, 2020 7:56 pm 
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The Bessemer road now has a massive slide.   Itís crossed over 4 sections of road, essentially cutting the switchbacks.  Missing the switchback above the staging area where the road equipment sits.  I went straight up to avoid the slide but at the 4th crossing knew it was a long and steep way to the upper road so didnít go past that.   This is where there was a cool waterfall between 2 of the switchbacks.   The lowest part has turned the east bound turnoff to the CCC trail into a mess- to say the least.  Trees all over...   the mud was serious, so I only crossed the lower one.
    The 2 upper creek crossings have been so washed out, itís going to be a lot of work yo repair the road, if it can be done.   Thereís a vertical wall below the road that doesnít look like it can be stabilized.   Must have one incredibly massive slide to do so much damage.
     I think when the mud dries youíll still be able to get across the creek but in general itís a big chasm,  I suspect it starts above the road, some distance past the turnoff to the pass.
     Sorry I donít have pict, maybe someone will go up there and share.

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nordique
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PostTue Feb 11, 2020 2:41 pm 
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Geez, more mudslide destruction up the Middle Fork!  When I was up there a few days ago, there was even a mudslide on the Oxbow Lake Loop--just down the right hand trail from the lower trailhead.  Didn't appear to be a big slide but the few footsteps in the muck were pretty deep.  I headed down to the river and up the Oxbow trail to its highpoint or so where I turned around--to avoid the mudslide area.  After that short hike, I checked out the Russian Butte pull-off--and then drove up the Middle Fork road to see where the blockade is now--it's not far at all from the Russian Butte parking area.  A bit of work to turn around at the blockade!

On my way back down the road, I passed the Bessemer road and thought I might crutch up that road next time--not having been on it for about twenty years--too late now!

Thanks for posting this information about the massive slide!
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joker
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PostTue Feb 11, 2020 3:08 pm 
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Is that road  (Bessemer) maintained these days for any reason?
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hatchetation
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PostTue Feb 11, 2020 3:44 pm 
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The half-barricade by Valley camp (where Dorothy Rd merges back into Mid Fork Rd) has been up since the original landslide. I don't think the intention is to keep people out, just to warn about the dead-end. The whole valley was super busy on Sunday.

Bessemer road going is a huge bummer. I don't envision an easy bypass of that lower slide, and it doesn't look easy to stabilize at all. Once it goes, access to the CCC trail becomes a lot less convenient, since the cliffs TH is after the existing closure at MP 9. The Sitka Spruce trail still connects OK, but it's pretty mucky at first, with a lot of windthrow up top.
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Forum Index > Trail Talk > Middle Fork Road closure update
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