Boulder Blocking Hwy. 243

Boulder removed from Hwy. 243 is marked by pylon.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Around 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29, about a mile north of the U.S. Forest Service Alandale Station, a large boulder managed to slide down the hill and land on Highway 243. A California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer was parked there in his sedan with his flashers on, covering the spot for oncoming drivers. A Caltrans bulldozer was also there ready for the move, and another was on the way. They had to get that boulder, about the size of an SUV, out of the road.

It looked like a formidable task, maybe something that would take a couple of hours, so I quickly called Jenny Kirchner, the photographer for the Town Crier newspaper. “You might want to come take a photo of this boulder. It’s right in the middle of the road near the Alandale Station,” I told her voice mail, and left it at that.

As it turned out, she got the message and wanted the photo, but was in a movie theater in Palm Springs at the time—without her camera. After the movie, she drove up the hill to get her camera, then down again to get the shot. She took it about 2 a.m., after it had been moved.

How she found the bolder in the dark and without a CHP marking the spot I’ll never know. The photo made the Feb. 4th issue of the paper, on page 3.

I had to go down the hill the next day and couldn’t find the boulder anywhere. As it turned out, Caltrans had moved it about 20 yards from where it slid. There’s a fallen tree and a big hole left there (see photo), but two neon pylons marking the new spot.

Boulders blocking Highway 243 are a big deal around Idyllwild, and especially a sore spot for the Town Crier newspaper. About two years ago, a much larger boulder had blocked the road for about a week, causing residents and tourists to go around the Hemet way. After much consideration, Caltrans blew up the bolder to get it out of the road.

Becky Clark, the former Town Crier editor, couldn’t even make it to work in Idyllwild that week, and was struggling to put out the paper from home. A reporter from the Press Enterprise in Riverside had called her asking about the boulder, and when it was going to be removed.

This boulder that slid last Friday night wasn’t quite as much of a headache for Idyllwild residents. In fact, only a few people knew about it. Yet, whenever it rains a great deal like it has over the last couple of weeks, rockslides are likely, and drivers should be wary.

NEXT UP: Photos of the bridge out in Valle Vista, at the bottom of the hill. Some say that it’ll take one month to fix.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

A fallen tree and hole mark the spot where the boulder had been.

Boulder size comparison to car.

the attachments to this post:

Rock w:car

Rock w:sun

Hole from rock

Hole from rock

Rock front view

Rock w:car

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