This season’s historic avalanche activity has dramatically affected Lincoln Creek, the popular recreation area 10 miles up Independence Pass.
Karin Teague, director of the Independence Pass Foundation, skinned up to Grizzly Reservoir last week to assess the damage and appraise the state of the trail, road and campsite conditions.
To her knowledge, no one had been up there yet this spring. While a few slides had been reported just past the winter closure gate of Highway 82, little was known of conditions farther up.
“I wasn’t prepared for the carnage,” Teague said.
Roughly 2 miles up Lincoln Creek Road from the highway was the first avalanche. Within the next 4 miles to Grizzly Reservoir, where most of the 22 dispersed campsites are located, there were seven to eight more slides, she said. Most of those ran from the tops of the mountains to the road, leaving a considerable amount of snow and debris to navigate.
It seems most slides took place within established avalanche paths, though Teague reported at least two ran to the road in places that likely have not seen slide activity in hundreds of years.
“Based on the size of the trees, we can assume that at least two of these paths haven’t slid in a long time,” Teague said. “It will be quite a job to get it cleared.”
Kim and Glenn Schryver, caretakers of Grizzly Reservoir, live at the site 6 miles up Lincoln Creek Road year-round and are tasked with maintaining the infrastructure. Due to the volume and intensity of the avalanches this season, the Schryvers were trapped for three weeks without access out of the drainage, according to Teague.
Looking ahead to summer, trail conditions and access will be a developing story as the snow melts. Teague reported at least two demolished campsites, but other signage and facilities will likely also need repair. It’s difficult to tell the extent of the damage at this point.
Lincoln Creek Road is a popular camping, hiking, rock climbing and summer recreating spot with 22 dispersed campsites. Keep up to date with condition reports, road closures and other information at www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/whiteriver/recarea/?recid=40507.