Scenes from the Slide on Highway 101

The Highway 101 slide just north of the Dean Creek exit overlays scenes of incredible beauty with varying degrees of destruction.  In the above photo, in the distance the lovely Eel River Valley stretches on either side of both the river and road while in the foreground uprooted trees sprawl across spring grass.

Looking up or off into the distance, there is nothing but unspoiled natural vistas.  But, this photo of Will Hurlbutt, the local rancher who owns the property sliding onto the road, and a Caltrans employee shows, the incredible destruction of the slide compels attention. In spite of the beauty around them, they gaze down. For on the other side of this towering madrone….


wave after wave of thrusting raw earth flows down the mountain. Bright spring grasses foam on the crest of each wave of soil.

Giant firs lay down exhausted in their efforts to keep roots clenched tight on land which oozes slowly towards the river.  Massive pepperwoods crack open, exposing roots which might hide arrowheads and Native American pestles.  The Hurlbutts have passed this ranch down for generations. They know that the pepperwoods grow over water and where there is water, the Native peoples used to camp, so they pause as they walk through hoping to find a bit of history tossed up by moving earth.

Shown in the above photo, Jared Hurlbutt tells stories about landmarks changing.  “When my dad was a kid,” he says, “Split Rock was two parts of a rock so close together that if a pebble was tossed in, it would rattle between the two all the way to the bottom.” Now though, because of the slides that constantly move the land, “Split Rock is so far apart you could build a house in between the two sides.” This shifting landscape is nothing new.  Will Hurlbutt points out, in the course of  the day, areas where slides reshaped the land hundreds of years ago.

The Hurlbutts are working with Caltrans and Shea Construction to minimize the damage to the highway below and the land above. Here, they consult as they walk beside cracks that could swallow a tall man.

Reshaping the landscape is big–so big it is almost hard to understand the immense power that the slides produce.  Here, the force of the slide has snapped utility lines and pulled a pole over.

Here, construction workers attempt to channel the water towards areas where it can be held long enough for the silt to be settled out.

Whole swaths of vegetation are tossed aside or simply erased in the over 20 acre slide. Looking across it, the destruction seems endless.

Looking beyond it, the destruction, minor, and the beauty–endless.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

23 comments

  • Did you take these photos, Kym? That last one is a real beauty.

    • Yes, I did and thank you.

      • What were you doing wondering around up there on that hillside? You could have fell into a sinkhole and no one would have ever found you …

        People sometimes forget, that whole Eel River basin is one big slide. My Dad built his home right between two big slide areas and everyone thought he was nuts. Probably one of the few spots on the river that was a big rock.

        • Especially lately, it seems like the whole country is sliding into the river…

          Mostly I felt pretty safe because I had the Hurlbutts with me–competent men for sure. But I have to admit when I could hear the ground humming a cricket like sound in one spot…Well, I was a little creeped out.

  • Some of those trees were very old… certainly survivors of 1955 and 1964. It makes one wonder… a real mystery.

  • Good photos Kym! That is the way to make your Nikon work for you! Seeing this slide from an updated perspective is very educational. It sure moved a lot since I was up that hill last week.

  • Good photos Kym! That is the way to make your Nikon work for you! Seeing this slide from an updated perspective is very educational. It sure moved a lot since I was up that hill last week.

  • Most excellent photos and lyrical commentary. Well done.

  • Most excellent photos and lyrical commentary. Well done.

  • I have to agree with all the above, excellent photos really telling the story. Good job Kym.

  • I have to agree with all the above, excellent photos really telling the story. Good job Kym.

  • shirley stancliff

    Great job kim!! I had to post it on my facebook so others who are not aware of your blog could see what a terrific job you do covering so hum!

  • shirley stancliff

    Great job kim!! I had to post it on my facebook so others who are not aware of your blog could see what a terrific job you do covering so hum!

  • Photo Journalism at it’s best. Thanks for sharing.

    I sure would have liked having you on my editorial staff back in my editor/publisher days!

  • Photo Journalism at it’s best. Thanks for sharing.

    I sure would have liked having you on my editorial staff back in my editor/publisher days!

  • Hi Kym! It’s so good to be able to keep up with what’s happening at home from our winter abode in the desert of AZ. Great photos and commentary!

  • Hi Kym! It’s so good to be able to keep up with what’s happening at home from our winter abode in the desert of AZ. Great photos and commentary!

  • Great photos. I love the way you framed the first one

  • Great photos. I love the way you framed the first one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *