SKIING & SNOWBALLS (not the good kind):
Since we had a ski season and have gone without for several years, after the holidays Steph announced it was finally our time to play. We had pretty big work plans at our Trinity River cabins after the Ski Park closed in early spring, so I agreed with him. We moved our menagerie north to our Fish & Ski Haus in Dunsmuir and skied almost all of the days we were there. It was a pure kick in the pants and then it was time to tackle our spring projects. Everything was more or less set when we experienced the well-known snowball effect, as you will see.
THE BIG SPRING PROJECTS COLLIDE WITH THE BIG RELEASE FROM THE DAM (and how it grew):
We still really want to sell the Thistle Lane cabins and semi-retire, running just 3 vacation rentals: Sow's Ear by us, the Birdhouse on Steel Bridge Road and the Haus in Dunsmuir. However, Alpen Glow's old deck was proving too much for prospective buyers to contemplate replacing. We did get an offer and went it into escrow, but the buyer backed out for this very reason, so we decided to do the job ourselves
(I use this term loosely), as well as removing a smaller deck upstairs that nobody used and replacing it with a window. But just as Steph had set up a carpenter he likes to work with, we got the news we'd have a very large river release, right about at the start of the deck job. Every spring, there is a release of water from Trinity dam to flush the river of accumulated debris (which it definitely accomplishes) and to improve fish habitat, along with various projects carried out with this goal in mind (ask any 10 people whether this is successful or not and you'll get 10 different answers). A major concern centers around how much water should be released and this year, following a severe, multi-year drought, the opinions have more heat than usual.
This has been deemed a wet year and so more water will be released than on a regular or dry year, even if it leaves places at the northern end of Trinity Lake high and dry. But the quantity of the release is decided by the feds and they said let her rip, so she is. But the forecasted maximum was quite big and in previous years, they've even released more than was planned, which does little to ease one's concerns. The picture above was our view just a few days ago. It shows the Trinity River at over 10,000 CFS (cubic feet per second from the dam; I think it got up to 10,400). Can you imagine the force of that water spewing out at the dam? It could cut you in half.
We had two of these high pulses and in between it's still been high enough to jump our bank and climb some of our stairs. The faster and higher river loosens logs that were wedged in somewhere upriver over the past three years, if not more. It's not uncommon to look out the window and see an entire large tree go zipping by.
Many things just downriver of us and above our bridge out of Bucktail (several hundred yards from our place) have changed since we had a 10K CFS or higher release. An overflow area that was built to channel water away from the bridge and back into the river below the bridge was sabotaged by a detour pipe that was way too small for the job, so instead of easing the pressure above the bridge, it made it worse. The river came to within 6" of the surface of our patio and we had a moat worthy of a Scottish castle around our pump house. Inside the moat were two sump pumps. Those pumps ran 24 hours a day for many days, and every few hours around the clock, Steph or I would fire up the fire pump and drain the interior.
Following that year, the engineers redesigned the bypass and after that project was done, we didn't have another wet year or big release. This meant we couldn't count on how high the same amount of water would come. Even though we thought it wouldn't impact our pump house, we couldn't be sure, so it was sandbagging time instead of construction time on Alpen Glow's projects, which have to be finished before Memorial Day weekend. Steph filled a bunch of sandbags and arranged them around our pump house. That is heavy and tiring work; again, I was of no help. Then he set up sump pumps and staged our fire pump nearby, but we hoped the pumps wouldn't be needed.