Work to temporarily relocate the Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park away from the East Fork Quinault River will require hikers and stock users to get park escorts through the valley during the first half of September, and camping in the valley will be temporarily prohibited.
The work to move the historic log building, which is slowly being undercut by the river, was scheduled to begin today, September 1. Monroe House Moving, Inc. of Sequim, Washington, received the $124,000 contract to move the building. The contractor plans to complete the relocation operation by mid-September, weather permitting.
To protect contractor and visitor safety, Enchanted Valley will be closed to all public camping for the duration of the project, September 1 through 14, park officials announced. Hikers and stock users may continue to travel through the valley, but between September 1 and September 14 they must be escorted by park staff. The camping closure and escort-only hiking restriction extends from the steel bridge at the downstream end of Enchanted Valley (mile 13 on the East Fork Quinault River Trail) to one mile upriver of the chalet.
The Enchanted Valley Chalet is located 13 miles from the nearest road, deep within the Olympic Wilderness. The chalet was constructed by Quinault Valley residents in the early 1930s, prior to establishment of Olympic National Park. The chalet served for several decades as a backcountry lodge and more recently, as a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter. The chalet was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Migration of the East Fork Quinault River's channel is common in the loose, unconsolidated soils of Enchanted Valley. Storms, fallen trees, rockslides and simply the constant process of erosion can all cause the river to shift and carve a new channel.
The Graves Creek Stock Camp (located near the Graves Creek trailhead) will also be closed between September 1 and 14 to accommodate stock animals and handlers involved in transporting supplies and equipment during the project.
"Visitor, employee and contractor safety is our top priority," said Olympic Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "Moving a two-story structure is inherently risky. We appreciate the public's patience and cooperation during the process of relocating the chalet."
Using industry standard house-moving techniques, the contractor will move the Enchanted Valley Chalet a distance of 50 to 100 feet from its current location where it is undercut and in danger of collapsing into the East Fork Quinault River, park officials said. The threats to natural and wilderness resources posed by the structure collapsing into the river warrant temporary relocation of the building. Additionally, preventing the chalet from imminent collapse will allow time to examine and plan for the long-term future of the structure.