The highway winds through dense Cascadian forest. Nahko and Medicine for the People, the weekend's opening headliner blares on the stereo. We are cruising to the 204 Summer Meltdown Music Festival, four days of music and positivity. Just as the dramatic glaciated peak of Mt. Whitehorse comes into view, the forest terminates in a mile wide swath of destruction.
At 10:37 a.m. on March 22, 2014, a massive landslide claimed a portion of the rural community of Oso, including the lives of 43 of its residents, resulting in the deadliest single landslide incident in United States history. The Governor declared a state of emergency and President Obama surveyed the damage from a helicopter. An extensive rescue and recovery effort ensued in conjunction with a deluge of community support.
We turn the music down and slowly drive past heavy machinery sorting through wreckage. It's a sobering preamble for four days of festivities.