Before The Fire

A side view of Horsetail Falls in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge

A side view of Horsetail Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge from the trailhead next to the road. This is my favorite place to hike near Portland but even after the Eagle Creek fire is contained I doubt this trail will be open until at least the spring. From the pictures I’ve seen this area wasn’t completely burned but some of the trees in the background are gone, no idea about further up towards the upper part of the falls, my favorite waterfall. The nearby interstate is still closed as they work to clear dangerous trees and stabilize potential rockslides, work that will eventually have to be done on the trails before it is safe to let the public back in. I haven’t heard if my feared bridge survived, but I suspect a number of bridges will need to be replaced.

I hope the pikas are doing OK too but there is much work to be done yet by the firefighters to contain the blaze before the full extent of the fire can be determined. Some of the trails further east may be open during the winter, they should be less touched by the fire. I can explore other places too of course, but when I needed to immerse myself in beauty for a few hours, all these hikes are within a half hour’s drive from my house in Portland.

The Gorge will still be there, and will still be beautiful, even if part of it has a long recovery ahead. As this alternate view of the falls shows, the water of Horsetail Falls plunges past basalt, a reminder of the forces of lava and floods that violently changed the landscape long ago and gave us the Gorge that we love so much.

Horsetail Falls plunges past basalt

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