Monday, November 24, 2014

Adventures with Rick and Rose to the Elwha

I received a phone call this morning inviting me to go and visit the Elwha River sites where two 100-year old dams have been removed in the biggest dam-removal project ever completed. Rose, my pal and her husband, Rick, wanted to go and see how much the landscape had changed. They've been here for almost 20 years.

Port Angeles foliage; only around for a few days.
I arrived in the region just as the dam was being removed, so I never saw it in operation.

You can read more about the history of the Elwha here and see a documentary about the un-damming of this wild river. It's been a long process of fixing a river and the fish that inhabit it, along with all the tribal impacts to native peoples.

Rose leads the way toward the Elwha River.
The sun was shining in between raindrops and what I've learned about the NW is that you do NOT do something just because it is raining. For one thing, it might stop. For another, if it doesn't, you never get to do anything... so we go.

The old growth forest reaches upwards and all the leaves that were providing shade this summer are now acting like spongy carpets on the trails.

I was traveling with two folks who, like me, know the importance of leaving marks or signs so we could find our way back from river's edge because at this time of the year the leaves and downed branches make trails harder to see.

We stopped at the Lower Elwha dam, now gone, then walked over to the river's edge, then drove to where Glines Canyon dam used to be (pictures at the end of this) and then drove all the way up to the beginnings of the Anderson trail to the Olympic Hot Springs... we'll go there another time.

Information about the dams is posted at both sites.
Following the removals and the clean-up, fish began returning this fall, reinforcing the belief that if you remove the dams, they will come...

We didn't see any fish swimming upriver but there were plenty of folks with the same idea we had; to get out and enjoy the wonderful weather.
Rick and Rose looking over the former lake;
the remains of the Glines dam are in the back.

Looking over the free-running Elwha from the remains of
the dam. The silt will nourish further downstream.

New cut of the wild Elwha now the lake is gone.

New snow on the Olympic peaks...
The recent rains brought snow down to the 5000-ft. levels. There may be enough to act as a refrigerator and to keep it for awhile. It's below freezing down in the valley as I am writing this.
The Olympics feed the Elwha...

And now the Elwha may feed us, on many levels.

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