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.
I’ve seen ferns growing on canyon walls before but never where they are about the only thing on the vertical walls as in the aptly named Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Visiting the canyon had been on my list of places to visit in the redwoods, but so had many others, but it was a friend’s insistence that I go that made it a focus on this visit in June 2016. You can drive in but I hiked the James Irvine Trail from the Visitor Center down to the Fern Canyon Loop Trail.
It’s a mesmerizing place to visit, thousands of green hands waving gently in the wind, and I took some video with the old camera but hoped to return this spring with the new and better one. The road into the canyon was closed however so I decided to wait until the fall. I want to get there early in the morning so I can get some video without so many people around, the voices of people shouting was hard to avoid on my last visit, even when I couldn’t see anyone from where I was standing. It’s such a lovely and peaceful place — at least it is when the stream level is low like it was here, I can only imagine what it’s like when the water is high.
While I love the old growth sections of the rain forest with its massive trees, I love the younger forest too reclaiming this little section of the Olympic peninsula in the Quinault Rain Forest. I stood beside this meandering stream, swimming in a sea of green, a smile on my face. A little ways away young trees grew, covered in moss of course because this is the rain forest, while ferns grew in the open spaces below. Ferns whose ancestors first appeared hundreds of millions of years ago, before the flowering plants, but some of which have survived through to today. Some of which I grow in my yard, wood sorrel too, my little reminder of the forests that hold my heart.
If things get a little quiet around here for the next month, it’s because I signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year. I reached the 50,000 word goal the previous two times I participated in 2005 and 2009 but I think it’s unlikely I’ll get that far this year. Partly because in previous years I had a better idea of what I wanted to write and partly because there are other things I’d like to do this month, especially taking pictures, editing pictures, and updating my site. Goodness am I behind.
And partly because I haven’t been sleeping as well lately and am often tired at the end of the day, normally my favorite time to write. The other day I fell asleep as soon as I finished eating dinner, for a night owl like me that’s rather embarrassing so let’s just keep that between us, shall we.
In the meantime enjoy this lovely mountain stream flowing over moss-covered rocks, taken on the trail above Wahkeena Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. I went hiking a couple of times in the Gorge in the weeks before my Wyoming trip, trying to get myself back in hiking shape while lugging the camera gear around.