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Showing posts from September, 2017

Eagle Creek Fire: Out of Sight, out of mind.

Several days of rain have driven parts of the Eagle Creek Fire into quiet bouts of seething resentment. But here and there unexpectedly — absent any ventilating breeze — tell-tale plumes of smoke reveal hiding places where glowing embers yet lurk under blankets of ash. According to, the fire is only 46% contained, but one would never suspect it while traveling the gorge corridor confined to SR-14.

I took a picture of this sign, wondering where my balls went. Meanwhile half a dozen bicyclists pulled down the orange safety barrier and pedaled out to the end of the viewpoint.
Curiosity about the state of the gorge after wildfire ran rampant across its vertical faces inspired me to seek access to the trails and viewpoints along I-84 along the Oregon side of the gorge, but the eastbound lanes were still closed on Friday. I drove the back way into Corbett, hoping to find some unguarded route into the post-fire scenery, but every road I tried, sooner or later, ended in a road…


(So, yeah, it’s just an attention grabbing title.)

Many people commented on last week’s pictures of fire in the Columbia Gorge, expressing grief and sorrow that the gorge would never be the same. The hellish orange outlines spreading before the wind were all too reminiscent of those hot embers we study in the heart of our campfires, leading one to believe that morning light would reveal only a valley of charcoal and ashes. But when morning finally did come, the gorge was hidden by heavy blankets of smoke, and so I was unable to determine the consequences of what I had seen in the night. It was frustrating — and it still is.
The fire, as of this writing, is still only 11% contained. That means somewhere amongst the trees, a fire that can spread from Cascade Locks to Corbett in an evening, is feeding and biding its time, just waiting for a favorable wind.
Monday was a clear and sunny day with not much wind. I decided to retrace my route from the night of the fire (I-84 is still closed), an…