Forum Index > Trail Talk > Mount Rainier National Park rangers find body in river; remind public of hiking safety
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altasnob
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 8:52 am 
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That looks very difficult and dangerous. In Canada, I have crossed rivers on sketchy logs where the parks/government has added a fixed rope affixed to two trees that spans the river. You can grab the rope for safety as you are walking across the sketchy log or if you are really concerned, could clip yourself to it with a carabiner or cord (and would have to climb back up onto the log if you fell off). Why doesn't Rainier do something like this to offer some temporary help until  a more permanent and costly solution is completed. The rope is not a violation of wilderness rules.
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 9:21 am 
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I have said this before, clipping into a line over swift water is extremely dangerous. If you fall you will be pushed downstream with substantial force with a pack it is nearly impossible to climb back. The crossing becomes a drowning machine. There used to be a steel cable across the Chilliwack at Middle Cabin back in the late 70s. Two hikers clipped in and were drowned when they fell in the swift water. The cable was removed and the cable car finally built. I will spare all the details.

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altasnob
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 9:50 am 
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Ok, post a sign that says do not clip in. I would never clip in for the reasons you stated. But a rope, or even two ropes on each side of the log at waist level makes log crossings much easier (just don't clip in). Below are photos of two log crossings I did in Canada (on skis) with fixed ropes like I am talking about. The fixed rope really helped on these creek crossings:

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Randito
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 10:17 am 
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Besides users unwisely clipping in to a hand cable another issue is that high water events remove such features pretty effectively.

The park already has a huge backlog of needed repairs, many of which service far more visitors than would improved bridges on the Mowich river.

Beside for all we know the deceased may have had a health event unrelated to the condition of the bridge that caused him to fall into the river.

Or he may not have been on the bridge at all, but fell into the river while filtering water or any of many other possibilities.
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80skeys
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 11:31 am 
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hi guys, so I have a question about these glacier-fed rivers. My experience in the Rockies with snowpack-fed rivers is that the runoff from the snowmelt lasts from about April through June. During this time the rivers are swollen, and then after June the waters go down.

So my question is what are the differences compared with the glacier-fed rivers like those being discussed in this thread. It sounds like the season is different where the waters are high. Does it start later and last through October? November?

It also sounds like the water levels vary during the day? This is odd to me, because in the Rockies during spring runoff the water levels are constant throughout the day and night, without any observable difference.
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Mike Collins
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 11:53 am 
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For example the White River is glacial fed. The link will take you to the water flow gauge on the river. The sharp upturns are from the heat of the day melting the snow/ice and sending it downstream. What is fordable in the morning may not be later on in the day.
https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wa/nwis/uv/?site_no=12100500&PARAmeter_cd=00060,00065
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coldrain108
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 11:55 am 
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Brian Curtis wrote:
South Fork Mowich River Big Log
South Fork Mowich River Big Log

80skeys wrote:
what are the differences

I remember trying to cross Dusty Creek one year.  It was so brown that it barely looked like water.  So that is a big difference, you likely can't see to the bottom of a glacial stream, blindly stepping across.   Plus with the extra mineral content in the water it can be much colder, salt and other soluble minerals will suppress the freezing point of water, so it can be well below 32 degrees and still be flowing.

Colligative Properties of water

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Randito
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 11:57 am 
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The rivers around Mt Rainier and other mountains in the Cascades also have very high run off during spring melt.  The Paradise measurement station reports snowfall averaging over 600 inches of
annual snowfall.  Snow depths at Paradise at peak (April) are typically over 20 feet, but it all melts off by mid-July.

One difference compared to Colorado is that run off continues over the summer as the glaciers continue to melt during July and August.  Flows are less than earlier in the year as the total area of glaciers is far less than the area of annual snow coverage.

Interestingly peak river flows (floods) are typically in October and November where the range will get events where an early snowfall is followed by a warm wet storm that combines melting new snow with large amounts of rain.  During one such event in 2006 over 18 inches of rain fell in a 24 hour period

https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/news/november-2006-flooding.htm
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philfort
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 1:20 pm 
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Mike Collins wrote:
For example the White River is glacial fed. The link will take you to the water flow gauge on the river. The sharp upturns are from the heat of the day melting the snow/ice and sending it downstream. What is fordable in the morning may not be later on in the day.
https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wa/nwis/uv/?site_no=12100500&PARAmeter_cd=00060,00065

Those data show the highest flow is around 9am, and the lowest just before midnight.

I noticed this for another glacicer-fed river I was looking at... highest flow was 2am, lowest was 2pm. Not what you'd typically expect.

Does it really take that long for glacier melt to make its way down to the valley, or are these times inaccurate (maybe UTC time and not PDT?)?
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 1:49 pm 
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The USGS gaging station numbers are reported in real time on the website. The data is fed to the website from the gaging station.

As Mr. Collins notes, stream flow will fluctuate on most glacial-fed rivers throughout the course of the day.
Usually you will see the lowest flows right before dawn, and highest flows late afternoon/early evening.
Distance between the glacier and the gaging station itself would indeed be a factor.
Major rain events can (in some cases) cause significant increases in streamflow.

USGS 12040500 082220 1730 PDT 1930 cfs
USGS 12040500 082220 1730 PDT 1930 cfs

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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 1:51 pm 
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and.... I wouldn't cross that river on any of those log crossings shown in the above photos, other than the built bridge with the handrail.

I'd find a place to ford and go for it instead of risking a fall off of a sketchy log.

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Brian Curtis
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 2:28 pm 
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Ski wrote:
and.... I wouldn't cross that river on any of those log crossings shown in the above photos, other than the built bridge with the handrail.

The handrail did not go all the way across the river. That bridge was the worst of the three options.

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I'd find a place to ford and go for it instead of risking a fall off of a sketchy log.

I didn't see anyplace that was even close to wadeable. There is a lot more water coming down there than it looks like in the photos. The log we used was actually pretty nice.

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Brian Curtis
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 2:51 pm 
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South Fork Mowich River Bridge
South Fork Mowich River Bridge

Here is another shot of the bridge that better shows the missing handrail. This one was taken yesterday at 5:15PM.

South Fork Mowich River Bridge
South Fork Mowich River Bridge

And the original photo I posted. This one was taken Saturday at 8:56AM. Note that 10:30AM on Saturday was when the White river gauge posted upthread was at peak flow after Friday's rain.

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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 7:30 pm 
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looks like your options were limited.

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ChanceShowers
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PostMon Aug 24, 2020 8:45 pm 
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And too low to the water to do a good shimmy.  Yikes.
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Forum Index > Trail Talk > Mount Rainier National Park rangers find body in river; remind public of hiking safety
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