NORTH BEND, Wash. - It was invisible until you stood on the edge of a ridiculously steep canyon. A mountain of trash, old appliances and wrecked cars; an illegal dump in the Middle Fork of The Snoqualmie River canyon.
Friends of the Trail workers looked down, shook their heads and scooted down over the edge. The extreme clean-up was on.
"We run into these things all the time," said FOT founder Wade Holden, "there are three cars and all kinds of crap down there."
Judging from the garbage and wrecks, this was an active illegal dump site 20 to 30 years ago. The dumpers apparently just drove up the cliff and tossed the garbage over. Some of it made it all the way down to the river. The rest was scattered in a debris field that stretched for a hundred yards.
The group's volunteers have to work their way down the canyon walls to attach cables to the wrecks so a tow truck could pull them up. Loose boulders and limbs would cascade down in the wake of the old Opal station wagon, Plymouth Fury and Dodge sedan.
King County helped pay the bill for the project, which removes environmental threats to sensitive public lands. Once the big stuff, the cars, old washers and couches were pulled up, the busy work of collecting ripped open trash bags and hauling it out began.
"A lot of beer cans," said one volunteer, picking through the trash.