Closure Set for April 15, 2015

U.S. Forest Service On-Site Co-ordinator Joe Gibbens has confirmed that public access to the townsite of Monte Cristo will end on April 15, although there still remains some paperwork to be completed before that date is finalized. There is no tentative date for reopening, as it depends upon the rate of progress in removal of hazardous mining-related waste and the onset of autumn weather conditions. If you plan on hiking in to see the area before then, please help us remind others also to be good stewards and do no harm. We will post updates as more information becomes available.

Many USFS documents regarding the cleanup activity can be found here: USFS CERCLA Cleanup Projects

March 2015 Update

Mild Winter Brings Continued Access But Also Vandalism Problems

A very warm winter with virtually no lower elevation snow thus far has allowed hikers to continue visiting Monte Cristo. There are no blocking problems along the county road in from Barlow Pass at last report.

These conditions unfortunately also have led to frustrating vandalism from people not expecting to be caught in the act. A cabin had its door smashed open, others have been entered, and trash has been spread by partying groups and uncaring individuals. If you visit the area, please report any such activity to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office by calling 911. All of this damage will have be repaired and cleaned up by property owners and our MCPA volunteers. Please bring along a garbage sack and help us pack out what others leave

Hazmat Cleanup Will Begin Shortly

Project head Joe Gibbens of the U.S. Forest Service advised us that logging of the repository site for hazardous waste materials should being after April 15, weather conditions permitting. Logs will be hauled out on the new access road, decked at its junction with the Mt. Loop Highway, and offered for sale. That done, excavation of the hole can begin. When this occurs, the area will be closed to the public probably until late this coming fall. This will depend upon progress and again the weather. Plans currently are for the Weden Creek Trail to Gothic Basin to remain open, with the closure boundary to be the South Fork Sauk River. That essentially means from Twin Bridges to Monte Cristo, all camp grounds, and the trails to Poodle Dog Pass/Silver Lake/Twin Lakes, and the trail to Glacier Basin. Details should be announced on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website under the Monte Cristo cleanup.

Initial work will focus on the spots near and in the townsite, as the temporary bridge to be constructed across Glacier Creek near the United Companies’ concentrator is required by fisheries regulations to be removed by the end of August. The contracting crew will be staying at the entrance to the town and working seven days a week.

As we have seen, plans change on short notice, so keep checking for updates.

Meanwhile, if you hike in to Monte, be aware that all of our interpretive signs have been removed for storage and will not be returned to place until we are allowed back in, now tentatively 2016.

Annual Meeting and Potluck Scheduled for Noon Saturday June 6

Please mark your calendar and plan on joining us at the Verlot Public Service Center on that date as we are brought up to date on progress in the cleanup and make our own plans for the summer and fall. Ideas have been suggested for a summer picnic, service projects for the Forest Service (we have built and maintained trails for them for example) and a brain storming session on how we are going to deal with and interpret Monte Cristo once the cleanup closure ends. Your thoughts, insights, and ideas are welcome and encouraged! We do know that we face significant work in restoring signage, brushing, and maintenance after three winters and two summers of exclusion. Many questions remain. Bring yours along.

Join MCPA or send in your renewal!

Our fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31 (starting the usual date when snow conditions allow travel). Annual dues are $24.00 and will keep you in good standing through May 31, 2016. If you wish a key to the gate at Barlow Pass and do not already have one, add an additional $18.00 to cover the cost of making it. Anyone who drives on the county road also must sign a notarized waiver of liability, which you can download. Parking inside the gate gives added protection from trailhead break-ins, which are a periodic problem.

Make your check payable to MCPA and send it to P.O. Box 471, Everett, WA 98206. Allow ten days for turn around time.

MCPA is an IRS registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, and all donations, gifts, and bequests are tax deductible.

Trip Report – Townsite & Silver Lake – February 28, 2015

The following trip report is provided by and available on the Washington Trails Association website. Thanks to “Chuck” for the excellent report and beautiful pictures.

WTA Trip Report – Townsite & Silver Lake – February 28, 2015

We parked across the street from the Barlow pass parking lot and walked about 100 feet to the Monte Cristo road. The log crossing next to the old bridge was a breeze, its a BIG log! The trail was easy enough all the way to the old town ( thanks guy with the really spicy beef jerky and cheese from Oregon ) then the hiking began. All was good until we hit the snow, the trail was covered but we kept on through about 8 inches of snow for about 1 mile, difficult but do able without poles or yaktrax. Only saw 4 other hikers on the trail to the lake, we were the first ones up there on Saturday obviously. So quiet up there I know why they call it silver lake now. My pedometer read just shy of 11 miles round trip.

Trail to Silver Lake

Trail to Silver Lake

Silver Lake - Frozen and snow covered

Silver Lake – Frozen and snow covered

"Chuck" resting with Silver Lake in the background

“Chuck” resting with Silver Lake in the background

Heading towards Poodle Dog Pass / Silver Lake Trail from the Monte Cristo Townsite.

Heading towards Poodle Dog Pass / Silver Lake Trail from the Monte Cristo Townsite.