Do it yourself chalet rescue

I have been reading about the Enchanted Valley Chalet that is in danger of falling into the river due to the river moving closer to the chalet over the years. We made the 13-mile hike about 62 years ago from the Graves Creek Campground up to the chalet and slept overnight in our sleeping bags. It was truly an “enchanted” trip, which I have treasured all my adult life. The big trout we caught from the river was exciting, and they fried up nice over our campfire.

Through the years the river has moved slowly toward this chalet. The only thing that moved slower was our remedy to stop or fix the problem that was inevitable, if no one tried to stop or fix it.

From what I can determine from pictures and newspaper articles, we are attacking the problem from the wrong direction. Everyone seems to think that the only solution is to move the chalet. I say stop the river from moving closer to it. I was raised on the Wynooche River about 15 miles above Montesano. The river divided our farm with many bends and areas that sometimes flooded. It could have been a problem to keep our buildings and fertile land from being lost, except my father, Crosby Valentine, had a simple program that used our horses and all natural material found there in the river to keep the river from washing the land away.

We took the horses and our old farm wagon down to the river where we found logs that the high water had brought in. Dad split them into long poles or boards and made a triangular crib along the shore. We filled it with big rocks picked out of the river channel and gravel bar. This triangular crib was placed just right to sheer the wild flooding river away from the buildings or good land. The crib held its position through the wild waves of winter. It was also supported by two cables tied to either a large tree or a log (called a deadhead) buried up on the bank.

This could be done to the river near the chalet without bringing any motor equipment into this pristine area. Probably two of these cribs would do the job. It would be mostly hand-work with all natural materials. I’m sure there would be sufficient volunteers for the hand work.

The biggest problem would be getting the permits to do the job, but with all the interest shown by our legislators and local authorities, they could “streamline” the project so it could be accomplished this summer (2014). This entire job could probably be done for $10,000. If donated labor and money were involved it would cost very little.

Later we could build some sheers right along the chalet and use them as foundation supports. Let’s move the river and save the chalet. There would be no detriment to the fish, as they could pretty much stay in a part of the old channel. Also, it would preclude the chalet falling into the river, which would partially block it, spreading the stream apart and causing many changes and a mess in the pristine area.

This solution would be a lot better than taking the chalet apart and reassembling it for one and a half million dollars. as is being suggested.

A second method, which my grandfather, Richard Easter, used to move a big, two-story house about a mile and a half by himself and a trio of young boys, who had nothing but a capstan and mule.

Clear the area behind the house, jack it up and place logs under it. Take a cable out away from the house and tie it to a tree or deadhead and to the house. Fix a capstan where the mule walks around a big circle between the deadhead and the house, winding it along. Of course there would be purchase blocks to double the capstan’s strength. Get it away from the river bank to higher ground. This would cost very little. It might be possible to use both methods.

Rex Valentine is a resident of Elma


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