As river runoff still is moderately high and Forest Service access road construction is not expected to result in area closure until after the end of August, we are rescheduling our work parties in the townsite to the last three Saturdays of the month. Those will be August 17, 24, and 31. Any modifications will be announced here.
With the chance of afternoon mountain thunderstorms and showers in the National Weather Service forecast for this week, please use extreme caution when crossing the South Fork Sauk River. Water levels can rise quickly, while any moisture makes the crossing log very slippery. Plan ahead!
Again note that the Forest Service vault toilet at Monte Cristo is locked due to lack of money to pump it out. Maintained toilets are at Barlow Pass and the start of the Gothic Basin/Weden Creek trail at mile post 1.
High runoff has made crossing the river with the Land Rover impossible. We are hoping to try again on the next Saturday, August 3. We are allowed three crossings this summer. Thus we will request state fisheries to let us move this opportunity to the third Saturday, August 17 instead, and if August 3 still is too high, then the fourth Saturday and so on until we have utilized all three chances. These early dates were selected because the Forest Service contractor was expected to reach the top of Hap’s Hill at mile post 2 and the area closed to public access. At this date there still is no contract for work to begin.
This illustrates the approximate boundaries of the hazardous materials cleanup. Other documents and related items also are available at the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website.
As of June 20 the Forest Service has been unable to reach an agreement with the contractor to resume construction of the new access road into Monte Cristo. This delay will push back the start of the public exclusion from the area, which originally had been slated for early summer. How this might affect the overall schedule for the cleanup is unknown. A reminder that the exclusion is due to begin when road construction reaches the top of Hap’s Hill at mile post 2 on the existing county road.
Also, the vault toilet at the entrance to the townsite has become perhaps the first victim of the hazmat cleanup. The Forest Service decided not to maintain or service it this season, expecting the closure to come into effect before normal use became a problem. It is full already, the area around it unsanitary and unpleasant, and the building locked. Plan accordingly and practice good Wilderness ethics. The only maintained toilets are at Barlow Pass and at mile post 1, the trailhead for Gothic Basin just past Twin Bridges.
Our hydraulics permit from the Washington State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife has been granted. This will allow us to make a single crossing forth and back near Twin Bridges with the Land Rover on Saturday July 27, Saturday August 3, and Saturday August 10. If you would like to help us prepare the town site for the coming hazmat cleanup, please join us! We will be taking down our interpretive signs, maintaining water bars and bridges, and cutting brush. Details are below. Rides will be provided from the Monte Cristo side of the river in the morning and back in the afternoon.
Due to delays in resuming road construction from Mowich (below Barlow Pass on the Darrington side) to the top of Hap’s Hill on our existing county road, we anticipate hiking in to Monte Cristo should be possible until at least the end of July. When the contractor reaches Hap’s Hill, the Forest Service plans to close the area for safety reasons as work to improve the last two miles into the town site continues into autumn. How this current delay will affect the project schedule is unknown.
We are planning to have Saturday work parties on July 27, August 3, and August 10 to prepare the townsite area as much as possible for the cleanup exclusion, which will last all of 2014, to the best of our knowledge. If you would like to help us with sign removal and storage, brushing, and trail maintenance, please join us! We will hike in to Twin Bridges and then have transportation to and from town from the far side. Bringing the Land Rover across the river for rides will depend upon approval of our hydraulics permit by state fisheries.
Pack a sack lunch and water, dress accordingly for weather, and bring along suitable tools for the task/s you would like to do. Space will be limited in the vehicle. Plan to meet at the clayslide area inside the Barlow Pass gate at 9 a.m., with transportation out in the late afternoon.
Any changes will be posted on the website, or call us at (360) 793-1534 for further information.
Note: With cancellation of the town site host program this summer due to the cleanup there will be no regular maintenance of the campground at Monte Cristo or toilet facilities beyond Twin Bridges.