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May 8, 2014 at 6:08 PM

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Gold Basin Campground faces risk of landslide

Seattle Times staff photographer Mark Harrison talks about photographing the Gold Basin campground located next to a hillside with similar characteristics to the hill that gave way, killing more than 40 people in Oso.


The big Gold Basin Campground sits off the Mountain Loop Highway east of Granite Falls. The South Fork of the Stillaguamish River runs between it and a hill with a long history of landslides. The campground, owned by the U.S. Forest Service, opens for the season this week.

Several days after the Oso mudslide, we were talking about other places in the region with similar hillsides next to rivers and near people. There was a lot of reviewing of documents going on in light of the disaster, and Gold Basin campground surfaced on a list of sites with a documented history of landslide events.

As it happens, I have chased summer steelhead near there on several occasions and know the area fairly well. With just that bit of info, I drove to the Mountain Loop Highway and walked into the closed campground during a day of nonstop rain and dark clouds. I shot through the rain thinking I would return another day in better light to photograph the dramatic hillside across the river from the campground.


The hillside is barely visible through the green foliage.

"Another day" took a month to happen, and by then the trees had leafed out and the view of the hillside was nearly obscured from ground level. Those rainy-day images carried the story when we published it today.


Tree leaves block the view of the hillside from the campground.

Read the story, here.

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