Hikers warned about large debris flow in middle fork of Nooksack River

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 7, 2013 

Hikers and other people are being warned about a large and dangerous slurry of mud, boulders and trees that flowed into the middle fork of the Nooksack River early Friday, May 31, making the area unstable.

No one was reported hurt in the incident, first recorded at 2:54 a.m. May 31. It is believed to have been caused by saturated sediment from the receding toe of Deming Glacier, on the southwest side of Mount Baker, slumping into the valley.

The Ridley Creek and Elbow Lake trails cross the middle fork in the debris flow area in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, according to a forest service news release. The stream will continue to move the material.

"Stay out of the area," said Renee Bodine, spokeswoman for Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Officials are concerned because the flow could keep moving.

Floods washed out the bridges on those trails in 2003, so hikers have had to ford the river. Elbow Lake is a popular fishing area, and both trails are used to access Mount Baker National Recreation Area.

"If you feel ground shaking and hear rumbling like an approaching freight train, get off the valley floor as quickly as possible," warned Carolyn Driedger, a hydrologist and spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey.

More on the event is online at mbvrc.wordpress.com, in "news & posts."

Reach KIE RELYEA at kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2234.

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