MILL CREEK, Wash. - Students who were trapped in the North Cascades due to a snow slide reunited with their families Monday night.
Henry M. Jackson High School students traveled to the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center at Diablo Lake for a field trip last week, but got stuck when a snow slide blocked Highway 20 Friday morning.
School buses pulled into the Jackson High parking lot by 7 p.m. Monday with students hanging out of bus windows waving to cheering families clutching green, black, and white balloons.
Sophomore Kalaina Stroyan said it was good to be home, although the students were kept busy on the mountain with activities, such as exercise classes, taxidermy classes, and yoga.
“I knew that safety was one of their first concerns, and they were really good at taking care of us,” Stroyan said. “I was not worried.”
The group had shelter and plenty of food for their extended trip, Jackson Principal Dave Peters wrote in a message to families. Peters kept parents updated throughout the weekend, according to Stroyan’s mother Kimberly Stroyan.
“I told her off the bat, it’s an adventure,” the elder Stroyan said. “You should enjoy it.”
Although the slide happened Friday, Washington State Department of Transportation crews weren’t able to clear the slide until Monday afternoon.
The eastbound lane of SR 20 opened at 12:25 p.m. to allow emergency vehicles through and let stranded people leave the area. WSDOT said it will begin to clear the westbound lanes Tuesday.
It will be several days before the highway is open to through traffic, according to WSDOT.
The slide, which included trees and heavy rocks spanned 150 feet and was 40 feet deep.
Part of the reason it took so long to clear the slide was to make sure the area wasn’t at a risk for avalanche.
“Our avalanche techs evaluated the area throughout the weekend but the rising temperatures and rainfall continued to create unsafe conditions in this and other areas of SR 20,” Andrea E. Petrich, a WSDOT spokesperson, wrote in a blog post. “Moving heavy equipment in before these areas were stabilized would create a risk to our crews.”
Although the field trip didn’t go according to plan, the adventure was worth it, Stroyan said.
“I would go back again,” she said.
Photos: Snow slide blocks SR 20