On Sunday rain and cooler weather arrived for a few days, not only drenching western Oregon with desperately needed rain but helping fire crews deal with the Eagle Creek Fire ravaging the Columbia River Gorge. But the day prior smoke from the fires increased throughout the day in Portland, to the point that I stayed inside and didn’t even let Ellie go out for her evening walk. Late in the day, with the sun colored red by the smoke, I noticed an interesting pattern of shadows on my wall. As I photographed it I looked to my right and saw the Cat Signal on the far wall, a silhouette of Boo atop the cat tree.
I washed my wife’s car on Monday morning, its lovely green paint shining in the sun, but this is how it looked Tuesday morning. A bit of a bloom from the crepe myrtle above the driveway had fallen onto the hood, where it was surrounded by the charred remains of trees in the Columbia River Gorge, ash that had been drifting down throughout the evening and night. A fire started on the Eagle Creek trail over the Labor Day weekend, possibly by teens setting off fireworks, and with high winds and a parched forest it soon spread to other parts of the Gorge, including several areas I’ve been hiking this year and will be back visiting soon. Walking to the train this morning in our Portland neighborhood the sun was deep red even well after sunrise but by evening when I returned home you couldn’t even see the sun so thick was the smoke in the air.
It’s too soon to know the extent of the damage to the forests and the trails as the fire is still raging, but this is the sort of area that is burning, looking down into the Oneonta Gorge, taken on a hike in the spring when everything was a luscious green. Move away from the mountain streams and much of the surrounding forest is not so damp, especially not after such a hot dry summer. My thanks to all the firefighters trying to contain the blaze and protect the historic structures and the small communities in the area, and who led about 150 people trapped on the Eagle Creek trail by the fire to safety.