Goodbye Monte Cristo Hike (Mtn Loop Hwy, East of Granite Falls)
Come join us for a fall hike to see and learn about the historic gold mining town of Monte Cristo and enjoy the autumn colors one last time before this area is "improved" by the USFS. After this Fall, Monte Cristo will be closed to the public for several years.
Over 120 years ago, the 1890’s gold rush miners left behind mine tailings that are still leaching heavy metals today. The USFS has decided to remediate the mining area as part of a massive excavation project. To do this, they are building a new road into Monte Cristo through an inventoried roadless area in an old growth forest that is prime low elevation Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet habitat. They will build roads into the old mine sites, even to mines located within the HMJ Wilderness Area on unstable steep slopes using large excavators and bull dozers; and then haul the tailings several miles with dump trucks from above the town site and burry them in an 18,000 CY disposal pit near the Hap's Hill Campground. The USFS is not even sure that the disposal pit construction is even feasible given the steep, rocky terrain; but they are building the road anyway.
The USFS will also build a road across Glacier Creek using dirt fill and culverts that could blow out during heavy storms destroying endangered Bull Trout spawning habitat.
The Sierra Club opposes the USFS's remediation plan and prefers a less risky, less costly, and less environmentally damaging cap-in-place method to remediate the toxic mine tailings.
Monte Cristo regularly receives around 140 inches of precipitation each year and this “cleanup” will likely create much more pollution than having done nothing at all. The USFS is performing this work under the Superfund Cleanup law and avoids having to do an Environmental Assessment for the new road while circumventing legal challenges.
The hike will be approximately ten miles with a 600’ elevation gain. You must be able to walk across a three foot diameter log on the South Fork of the Sauk River (see photo below from last years' hike at this time of year) or be willing to ford the river which will be about waist-to-ankle deep. Bring suitable reef-walking footwear should you decide to ford the river. In late September the Sauk River flow is at its lowest, but the water will still be cold.
For sign up and meeting details go to www.meetup.com/Sierra-Club-Outings-Washington-State/events/203800582
Carpooling is encouraged. NO PETS PLEASE.