Life already returning to the gorge on Archer Mountain

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Don Nelsen
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Life already returning to the gorge on Archer Mountain

Post by Don Nelsen » November 21st, 2017, 5:35 pm

[Moderator's note: Don's report is from the Washington side of the Gorge, where the Eagle Creek Fire jumped the river and burned a small area on Archer Mountain. To our knowledge, this area is not closed to the public, but please keep in mind that the Oregon side continues to largely be closed to public access]

I was pleased to see a few signs of regrowth in some of the fire ravaged gorge when I went on a short hike Sunday the 19th. Mostly off-trail but where I was on-trail, the trail was really hard to find. The ground surface was loose but not a problem.

5.4 miles,

2,063’ EG

No rocks, trees or branches fell on me.

Saw no one else the whole day – a great day in the woods!

A few photos:

In a particularly burned over area that was once a verdant Eden of sword ferns and Oregon grape, a few sprigs of fern have already shot up. This area was formerly completely covered and literally everything on the forest floor is gone. There were also a huge amount of branches down from the ice storms in2012 and also this past winter that were completely obliterated.
Image

Close up;
Image

Here's another:
Image

What really surprised me was the shoots coming out of some of the maples so late in the season:
Image

In spots, the only green was the new grass growing on the old trail tread:
Image

There was a trail here, honest!
Image

The ridgelines were really toasted:

Image

The scrub oak really took a hit:

Image

The only downside was that I really got seriously covered in soot - my clothes, my face where I touched it with my gloves. The steeper slopes had nothing to hold on to but carbonized trees and a very few branches so getting dirty beyond normal was unavoidable. I didn't realize how much was on my face until I noticed a few folks looking at me when I stopped at a store on the way back and wondered what was going on! I should have taken a photo.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

greenjello85
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge

Post by greenjello85 » November 21st, 2017, 9:57 pm

HOLD THE PHONE!! I've been told repeatedly how the gorge is ruined, destroyed, and will not be beautiful for generations. You mean to tell me that plants regrow?!?!?!? WHAT???? ;)

Seriously though, I'm glad to see it coming back. It'll be different but there will always be beauty, and peace to be found. Fire burns off the makeup but it's still an INCREDIBLY special place. The doomsday folks are in for quite a surprise come the spring.

I had to cut down a large maple in my front yard because of foundation damage and it had shoots coming out of the stump for probably 5 years. Incredibly resilient. I really like that uphill shot of those burned oaks. Pretty in its own way. Thanks for sharing the progress!
~Dan

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Water
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge

Post by Water » November 21st, 2017, 11:20 pm

[email protected]#%@^ Don!!! Everyone knows that old growth which hasn't burned since the missoula floods was all obliterated and it will only be our grandchildren's grandchildren who will see any of the gorge as a semblance of anything like it was in our era. I don't appreciate you one bit trying to greenwash the truth. There are probably 500,000 people who's favorite hike, which happens to be the best hike in all of oregon, and only coincidentally is also one of the 4 closest exists from Portland off an interstate highway and requires no forest service dirt road driving....is absolutely ruined for the entire rest of their life, please show a little respect! We are mourning, and you have the gall to provide any evidence that the gorge hasn't been turned into indiana-ohio flatland. I am pretty sure the fire burned so hot that the topography was reduced to sea level, quit trying to spread rumors to the contrary!
Feel Free to Feel Free

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Chip Down
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge

Post by Chip Down » November 22nd, 2017, 5:50 am

Water wrote:...only coincidentally is also one of the 4 closest exists from Portland off an interstate highway and requires no forest service dirt road driving...
I agree with everything else Water wrote, but he's* wrong about the coincidence. One of the driving forces in the funding and routing of I84 was the reports of Eagle Creek, possibly the most amazing place in the northwest corner of the US. Little known fact: I84 was originally planned for the Washington side, but Washington's half of the gorge just doesn't offer anything that compares to the stunning beauty of Eagle Creek.

Anyway, on to Don's report:
The ridgelines were really toasted.
Yep, even a casual observer from I84 can see how opened up the ridges are. I'm hoping for some fun exploring. Or it might make things more difficult if we have to dodge falling trees and rocks and landslides. We'll see.
The only downside was that I really got seriously covered in soot
Damn, I hate getting dirty. How long will it take for the rain to wash all that stuff away?

*edit: I suppose I shouldn't assume members are male by default.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge

Post by Don Nelsen » November 22nd, 2017, 4:05 pm

greenjello85 wrote:HOLD THE PHONE!! I've been told repeatedly how the gorge is ruined, destroyed, and will not be beautiful for generations. You mean to tell me that plants regrow?!?!?!? WHAT???? ;)

Seriously though, I'm glad to see it coming back. It'll be different but there will always be beauty, and peace to be found. Fire burns off the makeup but it's still an INCREDIBLY special place. The doomsday folks are in for quite a surprise come the spring.

I had to cut down a large maple in my front yard because of foundation damage and it had shoots coming out of the stump for probably 5 years. Incredibly resilient. I really like that uphill shot of those burned oaks. Pretty in its own way. Thanks for sharing the progress!
~Dan
Dan,

Thanks for the comments! Yeah, it's sad we can't all get back to our favorite spots and for this ridiculous closure but hype seems to be the word of the day with both the media and the gov.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Chase
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge

Post by Chase » November 22nd, 2017, 4:14 pm

Well done, Don!
Folks from the FS are looking at this having a conniption fit, probably. Stay safe and keep reporting the progress to the public.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge

Post by Don Nelsen » November 22nd, 2017, 4:17 pm

Water wrote:[email protected]#%@^ Don!!! Everyone knows that old growth which hasn't burned since the missoula floods was all obliterated and it will only be our grandchildren's grandchildren who will see any of the gorge as a semblance of anything like it was in our era. I don't appreciate you one bit trying to greenwash the truth. There are probably 500,000 people who's favorite hike, which happens to be the best hike in all of oregon, and only coincidentally is also one of the 4 closest exists from Portland off an interstate highway and requires no forest service dirt road driving....is absolutely ruined for the entire rest of their life, please show a little respect! We are mourning, and you have the gall to provide any evidence that the gorge hasn't been turned into indiana-ohio flatland. I am pretty sure the fire burned so hot that the topography was reduced to sea level, quit trying to spread rumors to the contrary!

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge

Post by Don Nelsen » November 22nd, 2017, 4:18 pm

Chase wrote:Well done, Don!
Folks from the FS are looking at this having a conniption fit, probably. Stay safe and keep reporting the progress to the public.
Yeah, they are but if any of them were actually hikers they would know where I was.

thanks for the comments!

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Splintercat
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge on Archer Mountain

Post by Splintercat » November 22nd, 2017, 4:55 pm

Well, to be fair, I assumed this to be on the Oregon side, as well -- but I've only hiked in the Gorge for 50 years or so... what do I know? ;) Folks, please feel free to debate the closure on the Oregon side of the Gorge, but remember that entering the closure area is illegal, like it or not. Thanks!

Tom

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Chip Down
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Re: Life already returning to the gorge on Archer Mountain

Post by Chip Down » November 22nd, 2017, 5:33 pm

Oh!
I too assumed this was Oregon, which is strange considering that I was also thinking about checking out Archer (as now identified in the OP). I have to disagree with Don's assertion that experienced hikers will look at the pics and know where he was. But I also acknowledge it's not as hard to figure out as I initially assumed. :oops:
Splintercat wrote:...remember that entering the closure area is illegal, like it or not.
I imagine that must be true, but I've wondered. It certainly isn't publicized much. It's assumed hikers would need to access the closure zone by parking illegally and hiking on a closed trail, so naturally that's what the authorities focus on.

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