Thursday, September 02, 2010

The 'Freeing the Elwha' Tour (Road Day #4)

The storm blew on through, and Wednesday morning we set out to visit the dams. The dams on the Elwha River which are going away, you know. S. first wanted to see the college where I work, so the map (thankyou google) begins there:

Map for Road Day #4, September 1, 2010: (Click for larger image.)

The primary contract for dam removal was awarded to a Montana firm last week. And Lake Mills closed to public access on Monday for the next two months while subcontractors previously arranged for begin channel preparation for the flushing away of the sediments when the lake is gone for reals and forever. When we were back there Wednesday morning (Point B on map), swarms of Park ranger vehicles and subcontractor guy vehicles were hanging around getting ready to Start. They unlocked a gate to walk out on part of the dam structure, and let us go out there with them if we promised not to fall in. We promised.

Pictures can't give you a clue about how very tall and narrow Glines Canyon Dam is. Be sure to watch this animation of the Dam Removal Process...

Glines Canyon Dam and Lake Mills (Click for larger image.)

We stopped to take a look at Elwha Dam and Lake Aldwell (Point C on map.) All was peaceful there. Ugly. So ugly it's scary; this too will all be gone, for reals and forever.

Elwha Dam and Lake Aldwell (Click for larger image.)

For thoroughness we then went on to the where the river flows into the Strait (Point D on map). Here again there was sign of preparation work: the west dike has been rebuilt or resurfaced; the sweet riparian woods that overhung the near end of the dike road is straightened and graveled away.

Trail to the mouth of the Elwha River, on the west dike. (Click for larger image.)
River, Strait, driftwood, cobbles. (Click for larger image.)
Striped Peak, Strait, cobbles (Click for larger image.)

We sat on a log and talked a little about this huge industrial project underway to restore the Elwha River to a semblance of its original state, always supposing the ocean can manage to return the fabled salmon runs. It was early but we were hungry; we shared one of our sandwiches, and watched the waves break at the river mouth. This being the last day, I was starting to worry about not having yet manifested an eagle for S. to see. But as we were leaving, all the groups of gulls lifted off in sequence. There had to be an eagle scaring them into motion, and yes there was. There, there. See? Bald eagle.

The next thing on the agenda was Salt Creek Recreation Area. More in next post.

1 comment:

Sky said...

girl, you have been very busy! looks like you have had fun travels and great scenic feasting.