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Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River Road to be "Fixed"

In the past I owned a Land Rover, and I did not just putter around town and do shopping with it. I actually took it up into the mountains during blizzards to go skiing, and I took it on National Forest Service "roads" (read: muddy, goat tracks) with like-minded friends. The greatest of these roads was The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River Road.

The Middle Fork started off easily enough. The first bit is paved and passes perfect houses with perfect yards. That part ends very quickly, however, as the road dives into the forest. During the Spring snow melt, the river is a class 5 rapids, and the many sections of the road hang precariously to the side of a cliff. The road is often narrow, unhelpfully slanted towards the perilous drop, muddy, rutted, and slick. The "shoulders" of the road are best measured in inches, where they exist at all. There are no guard rails. If you go off the road, your best hope is that you will crash into a tree and stop before you land in the river. Ruined carcasses of cars that were not so lucky can be seen here and there.

For variety, the road includes steep, one lane (really 3/4th of one lane), rocky, steep, narrow, steep hill climbs, as well as bottomless mud pits, washouts, blackberry patches that can swallow a truck whole (saw this), potholes that can stop a Jeep dead (we saw this, too), and finally - The Mother Of All Mosquito Bogs.

So why on Earth would people drive down such a terrible road? We, and many others, drove it because it was Epic. Beautiful, untamed forest with a wild river running through it, and us trying not to die, crash, or snap an axle. You were beyond cell phone coverage, a long way to the nearest help, and you had to have your wits about you and really drive that road.

Now that I have a 4x4 truck again, I thought that I would drive the family out to see this incredible place - but it is closed. If you read the DOT list of reasons for closing the road you will see all of the reasons why we went there in the first place. They are trying to put together a project to widen the narrow spots, add shoulders and other safety improvements, and probably remove the mud pits, too.

If the DOT finishes the project then I am sure that the road will be much better. I probably won't find German tourists upside down in a blackberry patch in a rented 4Runner any more, but the road will probably lose most of its wildness. I feel kind of sad about that.


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