OMG, The Hill Ate the Road—Photos from the Highway 101 Slide
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Caltrans District One Hydraulics Engineer, Major Damage Coordinator, Sebastian Cohen, says Monday morning Highway 101 should be open to 1 lane each way to the public and they hope to be able to allow emergency traffic through sooner.
In the photo above, Caltrans, contractors and CHP struggle to contain the damage wrought by nature as a massive slide North of Garberville (near the information sign for the Avenue of the Giants) rumples asphalt like piecrust. Kim Sallaway, a well known local photographer (see his gallery of Reggae on the River images here) set out to tell the story. He calls this the biggest slide he’s ever seen in this area…ever! “The area near the top is liquid.”
The photos and Sallaway’s stories below.
OMG, the hill ate the road.
This is Caltrans Senior Engineering geologist, Charlie Narwold who according to Sallaway has been shooting lines to determine slope and width etc. Sallaway relayed that the slope is 22 degrees vertical and over 600 ft across as well as a good 1/4 mile long.
Note the broken power lines. PG&E says they only temporarily lost power to one customer but it has since been restored.
There you can see the power line connectors but not the pole.
The asphalt on the south side teepeed making little pup tents. Sallaway took this photo before starting up the slide.
By the time he made it back down, the pup tents became an entire encampment of boy scouts lined up across all four lanes.
The geologist and another person peer back across the entire slide in the above photo.
Four foot deep cracks shatter the slide.
As Sallaway made his way to the top, he called me from the ledge in the lower left of the above photo, panting from the exertion. “Whoa,” his voice changed in the middle of a sentence. “A tree,” he began and then panting said, “the earth is moving under me.” More heavy breaths, some thumps, then saying only to me, “I think I need two hands for this, goodbye,” he hung up. Later, he described the experience. He explained that the large double root ball tree pictured in the lower right had begun collapsing and the land he was standing on slid down the hill. He had run, jumping from solid spot to solid spot. The tree, he said, as he ran “snapped and popped and laid down next to me.”
Here you can see the sloppy look of the slide. The river, Sallaway believes, if the slide makes it that far, could act like a straw— sucking away the soil at the “toe” of the slide and carrying tons of earth across the already destroyed roadbed.
From near the top he called me again calling the climb “one of the hardest things he’d ever done. The climb was vertical. The land was “spongy, soft, and slippery.” At one point to cut down on weight, he put down his camera bag with lenses about 15 feet from a drop off and draped a bright sweatshirt near it to make it easier to find. He noted a tree near it and began to work his way up the steep slide. Later he returned or tried to return. The tree landmark was gone. Eventually, after a 15 minute search, he found his expensive equipment only 3 feet from the drop off and the tree laying on its side.
As he moved from spot to spot the ground hummed with noises. The land was terraced with cracks.
The north side of the side buckled,too. “Every single thing I stepped on here [in the picture above] moved. It wouldn’t hold weight. ”
Below is the slide from the north side.
The two pink lines matched at 11:12 am by an hour later the road had moved this much.
Here is one of our local officers amazed at the power of the slide.
South of the slide, ripples of asphalt roll down the road.
Once again a photo from the top. If the slide keeps moving, this could very well be on the freeway in a day or two.
And as a final note here is a photo of Dyerville Loop Rd by Sara Champie. It is only open to south bound traffic in order to minimize the chance of accidents. She adds, “It is pretty muddy up there, and can get windy/sharp turns.”
UPDATE: There are some great aerial photos of the slide on KMUD’s flicker here.