Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

From invasive weed pulling to fighting fires, the inmates at Alder Conservation Camp in Klamath are used to manual labor.

But hauling boxes of eggs and slinging sacks of potatoes over their shoulders in order to supply the camp with food is probably a new one.

Transporting the camp's food and other supplies from one truck to another about a hundred yards by foot was the only option this week after the road to Alder Camp completely washed out, leaving a crater the size of a small building.

The weight of several inches of rain over the past week possibly triggered the collapse of the hillside that was supporting the road. The movement started Saturday morning, according to Hugh Scanlon, CalFire camp chief of Alder Camp.

"One of our staff members noticed the area below the road was starting to slide from tree movement, and then we watched the road slide over a period of about four hours," said Scanlon on Tuesday. "We're currently working on a plan to put the road back into service."

But whether or not the road will be rebuilt on the section that washed away is questionable.

"That's going to depend on the findings of the geotechnical consultant," Scanlon said.

By working with Redwood National and State Parks, which owns most of the land surrounding Alder Camp, Scanlon believes that a temporary access road will not be too difficult to create using the parks-owned, currently-closed Coastal Drive and an existing road that connects the camp to Coastal Drive.

"With minor road rocking we can get a portion of the Coastal Drive open for this emergency period," Scanlon said.

Shaun Bessinger, road supervisor for Redwood National Park, said that the parks granted CalFire permission "to do a few improvements, mostly brushing and putting a little bit of gravel down, so they could get out that direction."

Since the debris from the slide on the Alder access road dumped onto the closed portion of Coastal Drive below, the Park Service has closed off the route to hikers and bikers.

The Park Service has also notified the Yurok Tribe that access to some culturally important sites off Coastal Drive is currently closed, Bessinger said.

"The whole area there is really unstable. There's a lot of water coming out of the hillside," Bessinger said.

Scanlon expected that the five inmate crews at Alder Camp would be back out on their various manual labor activities by the end of the week.

Probably not hauling potatoes.

Reach Adam Spencer at