Several feet of new snow seen at a camp near Stevens Pass, Wash. (Zachary St. John)
STEVENS PASS, Wash. - A massive snowstorm that dumped several feet of snow in parts of the Washington Cascades will have its effects linger for several days for those who live up there.
Zachary St. John is one of two live-in caretakers at the Cascade Meadows Baptist Camp, a mountain wilderness retreat nestled deep in the heart of the Cascades about two miles from the nearest highway and 21 miles west of Leavenworth.
And it was right in the middle of the storm's mighty fury, which left record amounts of snowfall across the region.
St. John said snow totals reached 4-5 feet around the camp, and two massive avalanches have blocked the only road in.
"Waiting 1-2 weeks for the excavation company to clear the (avalanche) debris," St. John said. "There are two large avalanches blocking the road, and the plow broke due to the sheer amount of snow."
Two guests were staying there, but St. John said they could safely evacuate via snowshoes on Monday. Now St. John and his partner are holding down the fort.
"Currently, I have to cross-country ski the 6 miles round trip to get groceries," he said.
Even if the road to the highway were clear, they would not be able to get off the mountain. Due to heavy snow and massive avalanches, U.S. Highway 2, also known as Stevens Pass, has been closed since Thursday. At one point, the Washington Department of Transportation counted over 200 slides along the section of highway east of the camp with ice 4 inches thick and some slides as deep as 60-70 feet of snow.
Crews have been busy trying to clear the highway but have run into challenges with heavy rains exceeding 3 inches falling on the west side of the summit, adding to avalanche woes there. However, crews are progressing on the drier east side of the summit, and crews still hope to reopen the highway on Wednesday.
In the meantime, St. John is fine up at the camp to wait out the storm and snow.
"We are safe and prepared for storms like this," he said. "Part of mountain life."
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