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bremerton_john

[TR] Enchanted Valley Chalet - Trail 1/5/2014

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Trip: Enchanted Valley Chalet - Trail

 

Date: 1/5/2014

 

Trip Report:

Been a while since I've posted a TR. Been active, just not on CC.

 

Due to the low snow so far we went up to Enchanted Valley last weekend for an overnight camp up there. We were startled to find the river is now only 18" from the foundation of the chalet. And we confirmed this is the main channel of the river too. With the rains coming in now and this weekend, will there be a chalet next week? Photos and details were sent to the appropriate people at ONP. We'll see what happens.

 

Nice time to be there:

Chalet_5_January_2014_-_01.JPG

 

But, not so nice for the chalet...

Chalet_5_January_2014_-_22.JPG

 

Chalet_5_January_2014_-_16.JPG

 

Chalet_5_January_2014_-_15.JPG

 

Chalet_5_January_2014_-_10.JPG

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Wow. I'd say no, given the forecast. Too bad, I've never made it there yet.

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My first multi-day hike back in 1972. And my son's too--in 1995. It will be a sad day when it goes. Any news from ONP on their plans? e.g. burn it, dismantle it, or just let the river take it?

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Park is indeed weighing its options, studying river hydrology and legal issues.

 

In 2007, when the river approached within 30 feet of the Chalet, option was to fly in heavy grip hoists, cable, roller logs, etc and hand-winch the Chalet off its foundation away from the river onto higher ground. Then, the next summer, use house jacks to raise it, excavate topsoil and rebuild the stone foundation beneath the cedar sill logs.

 

Enchanted Valley Chalet is listed on the National Register of Historic Places . NPS Director's Order 28 mandates "No structure listed in or potentially eligible for the National Register will be removed or deliberately neglected without review by cultural resource specialists and approval by the regional director." and is pursant to the National Historic Preservation Act section 110.

 

The Green Mountain Lookout court decision complicates matters...

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The Green Mountain Lookout court decision complicates matters...

 

It shouldn't, it just really says don't Skycrane it to Hoquiam for repairs in the shop

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NPS Director's Order 28 mandates "No structure listed in or potentially eligible for the National Register will be removed or deliberately neglected

 

The NPS is often good at deliberating. 7 years is impressive.

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Thank you for posting this information about, in my mind, the most significant and beautiful place in the Olympics. The river had been very close to the chalet a few years back but not this close. Shoring up the bank near the foundation seems possible but I'm not an engineer. Surely, there will be someone in the Park who see's the importance and significance of doing something. It's actually good that there won't be a spring melt that may cause the river to a worsened force. I can't believe there is no snow in the valley. Amazing.

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Shoring a river bank against erosion is essentially impossible without tons of money, rip rap, heavy equipment and paperwork.

 

The only way to save that building is to move it, or hope the river decides to move itself

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It's good that the chalet is on the national register; hopefully this affords it some protection. Remember, this is the same park unit that went on a shelter-burning jihad a couple of decades ago. And make no mistake: there are many ONP managers that want this structure gone and this is, no doubt, the cause of the "foot dragging" to which Jason refers.

 

Some good history here (about half way down the page):

 

http://www.windsox.us/1956_Pargeter_Map/1956_Pargeter_Map.html

 

 

More recent stuff here:

 

http://www.friendsonp.org/issuesopinions/sheltersfarlee.html

 

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Boilerplate anti-government rhetoric aside, ONP lost a lawsuit in 2005 brought on by Wilderness Watch and two other groups when it attempted to airlift prefab structures to replace 2 original adirondacks that had collapsed. The suit was undoubtedly expensive and resource consuming, as suits usually are - it may have left ONP park managers more circumspect about preserving other structures in the park.

 

This structure is much larger than an adirondack - restoring it without power equipment would be a daunting, expensive, and resource consuming task. The use of power equipment would invite another suit.

 

While its fun to poke at wilderness managers from a keyboard, its a little more difficult to put yourself in their shoes, given the competing pressures and resource limitations they face. Half of users want shelters - the other half not. Either way, many want well managed national parks on the cheap.

 

Myself and others are currently planning some maintenance/restoration work on another lookout - which fortunately lies just outside a wilderness area. Compare the Green Mountain Lookout restoration (inside a wilderness area) with the recent Mebee Lookout Restoration (outside a wilderness area). The latter was light years easier from a bureaucratic and legal standpoint, even if the actual structures were very similar. We are lucky that our project will be more like the latter than the former. This may come as a surprise for some, but the Forest Service has been and continues to be very helpful and generous in its support of such historical restoration and maintenance efforts - but such agencies are now understandably gun shy in locations covered by the Wilderness Act.

 

Until some volunteer group (hint hint) organizes to restore this structure - the hard way, without power equipment, it will likely continue to go back to nature.

 

If nothing else, treat your historical structures kindly when you visit them. Take your 9/10ths empty fuel canisters, mostly empty whiskey bottles, and crappy leftover food back down with you. If there is a wood burning stove - clean it out after use and dispose of the ash properly. Close the shutters and doors properly. Leave the place cleaner than when you found it. If someone else left trash, remove it. This often doesn't happen.

 

In short, what would backcountry Jesus do?

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Is this building used by NPS backcountry rangers for housing? What's its function these days?

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Boilerplate anti-government rhetoric aside, ONP lost a lawsuit in 2005 brought on by Wilderness Watch and two other groups when it attempted to airlift prefab structures to replace 2 original adirondacks that had collapsed. The suit was undoubtedly expensive and resource consuming, as suits usually are - it may have left ONP park managers more circumspect about preserving other structures in the park.

 

This structure is much larger than an adirondack - restoring it without power equipment would be a daunting, expensive, and resource consuming task. The use of power equipment would invite another suit.

 

While its fun to poke at wilderness managers from a keyboard, its a little more difficult to put yourself in their shoes, given the competing pressures and resource limitations they face. Half of users want shelters - the other half not. Either way, many want well managed national parks on the cheap.

 

Myself and others are currently planning some maintenance/restoration work on another lookout - which fortunately lies just outside a wilderness area. Compare the Green Mountain Lookout restoration (inside a wilderness area) with the recent Mebee Lookout Restoration (outside a wilderness area). The latter was light years easier from a bureaucratic and legal standpoint, even if the actual structures were very similar. We are lucky that our project will be more like the latter than the former. This may come as a surprise for some, but the Forest Service has been and continues to be very helpful and generous in its support of such historical restoration and maintenance efforts - but such agencies are now understandably gun shy in locations covered by the Wilderness Act.

 

Until some volunteer group (hint hint) organizes to restore this structure - the hard way, without power equipment, it will likely continue to go back to nature.

 

If nothing else, treat your historical structures kindly when you visit them. Take your 9/10ths empty fuel canisters, mostly empty whiskey bottles, and crappy leftover food back down with you. If there is a wood burning stove - clean it out after use and dispose of the ash properly. Close the shutters and doors properly. Leave the place cleaner than when you found it. If someone else left trash, remove it. This often doesn't happen.

 

In short, what would backcountry Jesus do?

 

Your "boilerplate anti-government rhetoric" comment is kind of odd given your very recent and rather hysterical anti-USFS rants about Wind River and Wenatchee District staff and policies. This aside, your comments re Wilderness Watch are accurate--to a point. PEER--Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility were also a party to the lawsuit you reference (see below). I find it strange that lower-level staff within the NPS actually get standing in court if they don't like what the public has to say about access.

 

You also say that "half of the users want shelters--the other half don't." I'm not sure how you arrived at this number--I don't think it's even close.

 

But you are exactly right when it comes to your LNT ethic reinforcement--and the need for citizens to organize work parties to take on repairs like this. I'll do some checking in with Friends of ONP to see if there is anything in the works that I can participate in.

 

http://www.wilderness.net/toolboxes/documents/cultural/Olympic%20Park%20Associates%20v.%20Mainella.pdf

 

 

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tvashtarkatena writes "Until some volunteer group (hint hint) organizes to restore this structure - the hard way, without power equipment, it will likely continue to go back to nature."

 

This is a curious statement. The first minor restoration was done by NPS in 1953. Volunteers from the Olympians hiking club, based in Aberdeen, contributed 2,400 hours to the 1983 restoration. NPS completed the latest complete restoration in 2009, including new cedar roof, porch roof and window sills. The Chalet is in excellent structural condition. It is not "going back to nature" for any lack of loving care.

 

tvash' "Half of users want shelters - the other half not."? Let's check the math.

 

This specific question was the focus of Shelter Selection Criteria public workshops conducted in 1977 in Seattle, Port Angeles and Aberdeen. Olympic National Park tallied 1,416 written public comments:

89% favoring retaining all shelters, 10% favoring keeping some and removing some (NPS' selected action), and 1% favoring removing all shelters.

 

Olympic NP Visitor Study conducted in 2000 polled 674 user groups on whether historic structures within Wilderness are approriate. Responses: Always 52%, Usually 33%, Sometimes 14%, Never 1%.

 

The 85% "Always or Usually" or 89% "All", versus the 1% "None" or "Never", is consistent over time, and is far from being "half and half".

 

I'm certain an overwealming majority applaud your lookout restoration effort, as well as the work of dozens of dedicated volunteers on the Green Mountain Lookout, and the truly inspirational restoration of Mebee Lookout.

 

JBo6 asks "Is this building used by NPS backcountry rangers for housing? What's its function these days?"

Yes, it is in active use as a seasonal backcountry ranger station, the base of many search and rescue operations, providing first aid, emergency communications and shelter, natural resource protection and surveys, and visitor services over the past sixty years. The building is occasionally open to the public, on a limited basis as staffing permits. The Chalet was open for public use as a shelter in the 1940s-70s, and may be again in the future.

Edited by RodF

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Those statistics are pretty interesting and jive with my reading of the comments on things I'm more familiar with like the Suiattle road repair EA.

 

The militant wilderness faction is often good at using the courts to their advantage, but we shouldn't treat their opinions as commonly held.

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One last thing.

 

I would be in support of an amendment to the Wilderness Act specifically aimed at preserving historic structures and maintaining trail systems with motorized equipment (w/o road building). The STIHL amendment? Maybe I'm way off on this though- what do you guys think of such heresy?

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One last thing.

 

I would be in support of an amendment to the Wilderness Act specifically aimed at preserving historic structures and maintaining trail systems with motorized equipment (w/o road building). The STIHL amendment? Maybe I'm way off on this though- what do you guys think of such heresy?

 

I think those mechanisms are already there, it is just that some agencies don't want to use their ability to use chainsaws for trail maintenance.

 

Likewise with historic preservation.

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tvashtarkatena writes "Until some volunteer group (hint hint) organizes to restore this structure - the hard way, without power equipment, it will likely continue to go back to nature."

 

This is a curious statement. The first minor restoration was done by NPS in 1953. Volunteers from the Olympians hiking club, based in Aberdeen, contributed 2,400 hours to the 1983 restoration. NPS completed the latest complete restoration in 2009, including new cedar roof, porch roof and window sills. The Chalet is in excellent structural condition. It is not "going back to nature" for any lack of loving care.

 

tvash' "Half of users want shelters - the other half not."? Let's check the math.

 

I'm sorry you wasted so much time in your reply, but the 'half' statement was purely figurative - meant to illustrate the competing pressures that land managers face. I thought the rest of message made that pretty clear. Guess not.

 

Re: the restoration comment, I mistook the structures shutters for plywood (ie, boarded up - as was the Mebee Lookout). Caught it at second glance, but didn't think it warranted another post. Quite a few volunteer hours did go into both the Green Mountain and Mebee structures, of course - the principle I was attempting to put forth.

 

Again, sorry for wasting your valuable time. Feel free to beat up other historical preservation supporters, ie, allies, as you see fit.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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One last thing.

 

I would be in support of an amendment to the Wilderness Act specifically aimed at preserving historic structures and maintaining trail systems with motorized equipment (w/o road building). The STIHL amendment? Maybe I'm way off on this though- what do you guys think of such heresy?

 

That would be great. The historic preservation portion is already in the Act itself, but as for trail maintenance, well, rumor has it that at least one USFS manager, faced with protests from the radical green faction, took away his trail crew's chain saws--and sent them out with hand augurs and dynamite instead. Problem solved.

 

The worst part of all this is that groups like Wilderness Watch are actually doing long-term, permanent harm to the true wilderness ideal. Use is down, and support for wilderness expansion in places like NCNP (Alps proposal) and ONP (Wild Olympics proposal) is virtually nil among locals and actual users.

 

One last thing: it's important to distinguish between Olympic Park Associates--radical greens who are, for all intents and purposes, the peninsula's equivalent of the NCCC--and Friends of Olympic National Park who support historically-biased access for hikers, climbers, equestrians, and skiers.

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Under the Wilderness Act, use of motorized equipment is prohibited 'except as necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act' (including emergencies).

 

The public purpose(s) referred to include recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use.

 

What is 'necessary' and what constitutes meeting 'the minimum requirements' were points of disagreement during both the Green Mountain Lookout and ONP structure lawsuits.

 

Neither suit argued that the structures themselves violated the act - both pre-dated wilderness designation and served historical and recreational purposes, and so were allowed under the Act. Rather, both lawsuits focused on the use of helicopters to perform the restoration/replacement work.

 

Both chainsaws and helicopters are used to maintain wilderness areas. Old growth blow downs and the transport of bridge stringers arguably make them 'necessary' - few would argue that trails are not an important and allowed way to fulfill the 'recreational' purpose of the Act.

 

Structures, and particularly shelters, are more controversial, at least in the litigation sense, in that they have a greater impact on wilderness character and are less necessary for recreation than trails. Shelters also tend to require more motorized equipment use for maintenance and restoration - the Green Mountain project involved 65 chopper flights, for example. More extensive use of larger equipment for structures deemed less necessary attracts more attention from watchdog groups.

 

ONP might arguably have squeeked by had it discreetly used chain saws to replace the two collapsed shelters in question. Plaintiffs would have had a weaker case at least. Choppering in pre-fab structures apparently created a bit too much of a splash for both its critics and the judge, however.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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The Act basically says 'don't do it (motorized equipment) unless you really need to meet the minimum requirements for the purpose...ie, less is more. It's not a bad formula for preserving wilderness character as defined - which, after all, is the whole point of the Act.

 

Removing the 'necessary' or 'minimum' wording could produce unintended consequences that could damage that wilderness character - more elaborate structures, higher impact and longer term construction projects, temporary roads, etc. I don't know, the act works pretty damn well the way it is, even if we all don't get exactly what we want every time. The nature of litigation may change, but the number of suits may not.

 

American wilderness management serves as a pretty decent model for the rest of the world, even if there are fewer places to keep out of the rain than, say, Canada or New Zealand.

 

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Thanks for the detail guys, I appreciate it. I'm not well versed in the letter of the law, and this is helpful. It is unfortunate that the polarization in politics extends all the way into the backcountry, access is certainly suffering as a result.

 

I'm beginning to see the wilderness through the eyes of my young sons, and it isn't easy to find solitude on well maintained trails any longer. Use is getting concentrated on fewer trails, closer to the cities. Such is life I guess, but it certainly has me writing to my elected reps more frequently to increase trail/road funding to the NPS and USFS.

 

I certainly appreciate everyone's efforts to restore historic structures like the Mebee pass LO, and hope to lend a hand with my boys one of these summers. Keep up the good work!

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The Act basically says 'don't do it (motorized equipment) unless you really need to meet the minimum requirements for the purpose...ie, less is more. It's not a bad formula for preserving wilderness character as defined - which, after all, is the whole point of the Act.

 

 

So as I understand it, they could do a lot to save the structure, even bringing in sling loads of Knaack boxes, but are more than reticent to do so because:

1) Governmental inertia

2) Fear of lawsuits

3) Some in the hierarchy do not believe that structures belong in Wilderness, and a loss of the structure is part of the natural way.

 

I for one support saving these historic buildings, but no one from DC calls me on my Obama phone

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I'd say number 1 is better characterized as dealing with competing priorities with limited resources, 2 is definitely accurate, and 3 probably doesn't apply to many, if any, land managers in WA. Washingtonians love our historic structures, and land managers respond in kind - or lead the charge, both individually and in trying to fulfill their stewardship responsibilities.

 

If you want a real (tough) project - take on the High Rock Lookout. Washington's most trashed. Go figure - it's a short, easy walk from a road. Good for restoration work, bad for keeping that work from getting destroyed by the hairless monkey.

 

Sad, because the viewpoint is spectacular.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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The only way to save that building is to move it, or hope the river decides to move itself

Yup! As much fun as you fellas have rehashing the various interpretations of Wilderness Act, this is the main threat to this particular structure. And I really doubt the NPS is going to be very inclined toward river engineering.

 

Can the building be moved? Looks like a cement foundation...

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