Massive mudslide at Sheep Mountain Lodge

Published: Jul. 7, 2017 at 5:06 PM AKDT
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Heavy rain caused a mudslide down a mountain near the starting line of a popular bike race.

A mud river quickly formed just north of Glacier View behind the Sheep Mountain Lodge, smashing into at least three dozen vehicles and a boat. The owner of the lodge said the area is typically a dry creek bed, but he believes heavy rain over the past three weeks caused a pooling of water on the mountainside, that suddenly broke on Thursday evening.

“It sounded like a freight train coming through the woods,” said owner Mark Fleenor. “You can hear it crackling, the trees pushing them over, smashing up against the cars. It was pretty aggressive.”

The mud river remained impassable on foot or vehicle on Friday evening, creating a natural barrier between the bicyclists competing in the Fireweed 400, who traditionally camp in the nearby airport, and the starting line of the race. Racers were forced to take a short detour along the Glenn Highway to avoid the mud, estimated to be up to six feet deep.

No one was injured by the mudslide, but a number of vehicles owned by the lodge and its neighbor are still stuck in mud.

The Glenn Highway was not affected by the slide, and the Fireweed 400 is expected to continue as planned.