Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Glacier Basin Trail at Mount Rainier is restored, rerouted

July 20, 2010, 2:08 pm

The stump held on for days, even as five workers hacked and chopped at it, and tugged on it with the help of a harness and pulley.

Finally, after a week, the stubborn old stump relinquished its grip on the soil and the workers breathed a collective sigh of relief. The trail was clear at last.

That single task took long, hard labor — but volunteers, rangers and officials at Mount Rainier National Park are used to that. For the past four years, they've been working to restore one of the park's most popular trails — wiped out by flooding in 2006, one of the most catastrophic natural events in the park's history.

This week, park officials hope to open the lower, mile-long section of the new Glacier Basin trail, improved and rerouted.

"It's definitely the largest trail-reconstruction project — not just from the flood — but that I've ever partaken in," said trails foreman Carl Fabiani, who has worked at the park since 1965.

Much of the original Glacier Basin trail, once a straightforward dirt path, was wiped out by about 18 inches of rain that poured down in 36 hours and raged through the White River Valley in November 2006.

The Inter Fork River overtook the trail, where it still flows. For the past four years, hikers and mountaineers have been forced to the river's side, where they scramble up loose rock fields or precariously hop from stone to log to cross the river.