Approximately 30 percent of our tenure lies in the Keen Creek drainage. Access is from Hwy 31A, through the South Fork community. The steep and narrow valley runs roughly North / South – which means that the sun reaches the narrow valley floor only briefly during the day, when right overhead. It’s a fabulously shady place on a hot summer day, next to glacier-fed Keen Creek, the old Cedars, devilsclub and moist moss. You can inspect the springboard notches left in giant old stumps from a long time ago.
But it’s the winter and spring that amplify the deep-freeze qualities in the valley floor, when the sun is low behind the snowy mountains and fails to make its brief visit overhead. While mountain tops are bathed in the spring sun, its rays are melting the white slopes in the high and mid elevations and turn the tap on for a wild spring freshet rushing down into the dark valley bottom where the road and ditches are still covered under 3 feet of snow and ice. The water comes down the steep slopes with a force, some of it going underground, shooting up through the road surface and adjacent forest floor in geysers.
This reversal of climate in itself would be bad enough, but geology brought soils high in silt into the mix. Silt rubbed between the fingers feels very fine, floury when dry, slippery-soapy when wet, non-cohesive….. and there you have it.
We had spent well over $200,000 in 2015 upgrading unstable sections of the road with log cribbings (such as in the photo above) and bridges. During the spring of 2018 we spent $25,000 maintaining access into this valley to plant trees, including almost daily shovel work to manage water. We commissioned a geo-technical report over the summer with hopes that upgrades and additions of additional drainage structures and careful maintenance may make the road manageable for the future. We were able to install some, but not all recommendations from this report due to a delay in construction equipment and winter settling in. Works included 13 additional culverts, ditching and in-sloping of the road in difficult sections at a cost of $15,000. Recent Keen works were done by Shane McKinnon and Ron Jardine.