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The last few times to the area were curtailed by a washout which blocked access to the lake and the Statlu Creek area. So I was glad that the bridge was repaired and we could now venture to the lake. Unfortunately the mountain slide that happened a few years back blocked the road and one can no longer continue the drive to Mystery Creek and on to the West Harrison, so we would be returning this way. Despite It being a dull day with cool temperatures, I was looking forward to the drive - at least it wasn't raining.
On reaching the FSR we found ourselves alone, it seems that the area was not an attractive one this morning. That suited me just fine as I find crowded roads to be a nuisance never mind a hazard. We did our regular stop at the campsite at the start of Elbow lake. I'm not sure what it is about this little lake that always catches my eye but it has become the norm to stop here and grab a few shots. The area is pretty and all but there is something else about this spot that keeps me stopping to check it out. Maybe I just feel there is something there that I haven't been able to find yet.
Once past the lake we set off down the main road and soon came to a newly logged area that we turned off to explore. It wasn't a large area but we did get a bit of elevation and a few shots. The area was split into two segments and crossing to the second put us over a narrow bridge where a large logging vehicle was parked. Geoff looked it over for a few minutes while I grabbed a few photos of the creek. We noticed another group in a truck on the far side of the main road so once we were done here we set off to see that area. They were blocking the road but after chatting with them a bit they said that it didn't go far, so we returned to the main. They seemed a bit surprised to see us and at first took us for someone official.
As we got further up we discovered a frozen wall of ice that looked very pretty and worth a number of photos. Next we came to another actively logged branch and turned up it to explore, signs were warning us of video surveillance . We discovered some icicles hanging from the roots of trees. These caught Geoff's attention and he climbed up the slope to view them from a closer point. After checking out the area we returned to the main and crossed the repaired bridge on our way to Chehalis lake. Just before the lake we came to a lovely frozen waterfall that was just visible from the road. We decided we needed a better view and since the creek bed was too slippery we decided to climb a small ridge beside the sunken valley to a point overlooking the waterfall. After stumbling through the undergrowth and steep mossy slope we arrived at the ridge top, the view was great and I got a good series of images including a pano.
Then it back to the main and on to the lake. We stopped for lunch on the rock overlook midway up the lake. This was a spot we discovered our first time here and I have made a habit of walking out on it every trip. The view was good but the dull weather did tend to compromise the quality of shots available. As we were finishing our lunch I heard some voices but we couldn't see anyone. we returned to the truck and continued along the main. Just past the first turn we found the source of the voices - there were a couple of foresters burning some trash at the site of their heliport. We chatted a bit and then left them to their task. We continued to where the road was closed due to the slide. They were very serious about blocking the road as they had dug two huge cross-ditches that nothing would get over though we really had hoped to try. As it was obvious we wouldn't get past them, we turned back a bit and took a side road to see how far we could get. This was the Skwellepil Creek road. We explored this road in the Pathfinder some years back and it was one where we almost got stuck when crossing a stream bed. Today we were to be stopped by snow.
As we drove along we eventually came to snow, it had two deep ruts in it. The snow crust around the ruts was hard we ended up tracking the ruts. before long it was getting deeper than we liked and we decided to turn around, that was a mistake as when we left the ruts our frontend immediately sank into the deep soft snow on the side of the road and now we weren't moving. We pulled out the winch and pulled ourselves back to the centre of the road. But when we backed up we ended up back in the spot where we got stuck. Rather than try it again we put chains on our rear tires. Those dug us out in no time, we got back into the ruts and backed our way down till we found a better place to turn around with shallower snow. In the process we broken several links in one of the chains.
Once back on the main we soon were passing the entrance to the closed campsite. We decided to drive down to the lake to see if we could see the slide. We were not disappointed. The whole face of a mountain had slid off down into the lake. The debris was vast and looking across the lake to the other-side one could see how the slide created a huge enough wave that the beach and trees for 10 's of meters up were stripped bare! The wave must have been incredibly big and powerful. Driving along the campsite we discovered more damaged areas where the water had stripped the shoreline bare.
The day was getting dimmer and no longer good for photography so we decided to head out. The pair that was burning had already departed as we came past their work - it was still smoldering. We saw only two other vehicles on our way out, one we passed the other was heading in. So it was a very quiet day out there which suited me just fine. We collected a few images on the repaired bridge and then drove out and soon were back home. The truck performed very well for us, the winch also proved helpful and a wise investment already. It does look like it will serve our needs quite well for the years ahead.