A River runs over it

Posted by Ken Campbell January 6, 2011 0 Comment 951 views

The local paper ran a piece about a month ago that detailed the threats to the roads of Mount Rainier, and began with the following: “The greatest threat to the busiest road in Mount Rainier National Park is the mountain itself.”

It was a good article and I don’t want to restate the whole thing here, but the item that really jumped out at me was the fact that debris flows from repeated flooding have raised the level of the Nisqually River to the point where its streambed is now 38 feet higher than the road to Paradise, which runs right next to it.

The Park is looking at a $30 million repaving project on that particular road, along with a bunch of other road repair issues (Route 410, on the other side of the mountain, for example, is almost 12 feet below the active channel of the White River), and nobody has the first sweet clue what all these projects will end up costing by the time it’s all said and done. If that day ever comes.

There’s a lot of science and geomorphology in the article that I’m not sure I entirely understand, but I am left wondering about something the article didn’t even mention: perhaps driving and Mount Rainier just don’t mix. Maybe they are an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp or compassionate conservative. Perhaps they go together like the Minnesota Vikings and Super Bowl rings. Some things are just not meant to be.

It’s just a thought.

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