CASHMERE — Jonah Tall was pretty excited when he and his grandmother, Yvonne Nelson, found a boulder about the size of a small car in the Icicle Irrigation District canal last Friday.
The two were hiking along the canal on the mountainside above the Tall family’s Tigner Road home on the southwest side of town. The rock had cracked the 4-inch-thick concrete floor and sides of the canal.
Jonah, 10, was excited because his father had been right.
On family hikes up the mountain last summer to watch nesting red-tailed hawks, Jonah’s father, orchardist Jon Tall, said the rock would fall. They could see a rock about the size of a two-car garage splitting away from the mountain.
Following Friday’s discovery, the family checked on the rock in the canal on Saturday and Tall reported it to the irrigation district Monday.
District Manager Joel Teeley said the rock would have been discovered soon anyway during canal cleaning.
Apparently, only part of the garage-size rock fell the approximate eighth of a mile down the mountain to the canal, Tall said. It was slowed by breaking off four, 2-foot-diameter fir trees but no one has been up higher to check out the rest of the rock, said Fred Berger, irrigation district foreman.
Teeley said the rest of the rock on the mountainside will be checked out before canal repairs are completed so more rock can be dislodged if necessary.
Had the rock that fell not stopped in the canal, it would have taken out pear trees in Bob Etzkorn’s orchard and could have landed in the Peshastin Irrigation District canal, about 200 feet below the Icicle canal, Teeley said.
Water is scheduled to flow, depending on weather, on April 3 in the Peshastin and April 17 or 24 in the Icicle, Teeley said. Repairs should be completed in time to keep those schedules, he said.
“At least this didn’t happen with water in the canal. That would have been a catastrophe and we would have been down a long time,” Teeley said.
Water would have flooded through orchards and may have filled the Peshastin canal with mud, he said.
On June 1, 1995, the Icicle canal washed out in the Pine Flats Loop area near Cashmere and filled the Peshastin canal with mud for two miles, Teeley said.
Tuesday, Berger and his assistant Anthony Nelson drilled holes in the rock to prepare it for blasting and removal. Teeley said blasting, by a licensed explosives handler, should occur today. Total repair probably will cost about $1,500, Berger said.
The Icicle Irrigation District serves about 800 users from Leavenworth to Monitor, 95 percent of whom are pear growers. The Peshastin district serves about the same number from the Big Y to Cashmere.
Dan Wheat may be reached