Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

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Charley
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Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 20th, 2017, 9:23 pm

My wife and I took a trip out to Catherine Creek today, and along the way, I took lots of photos of the fire damage. All were shot from Washington S.R. 14 south, to the Oregon side of the Gorge.

0. My deepest sympathy to the folks of Cascade Locks. After seeing upper Dry Creek, I can't imagine what it must have felt like to have hunkered down in town, or to have left all your belongings in town and split. I hope everything takes a turn for the better, and soon!

1. My photos were shot with an old, cheap lens and kind of old camera. I've bumped up contrast and saturation for purposes of figuring out what is burned and not burned, but a lot of these shots were into the sun (through clouds) and on a tall tripod in a little wind. It's not art. :)

2. I've been assuming that, if I see green trees, those trees will mostly survive. I know that some get killed by losing a lot of lower bark when a fire passes underneath, but I don't know how to judge which green trees are alive and which are actually dead, but haven't lost needles yet. I'm guessing it's not too many.

3. I think there's more good news than bad. The authorities were not kidding when they called it a "mosaic burn." There are acres and acres of what appear to be live trees, right in the midst of all the burned areas. I wasn't able to see very far up most of the drainages, but it looks like lots of old growth along Nick Eaton Ridge and Bell Creek was spared. There are also large patches of green trees in all of the Gorge facing areas that have trails on them. This fire looks very different from the B & B Complex fire: more variety and less complete burn.

Devil's Rest. Looks like a few trees burned up there. Lots of that area did not burn.
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Angels' Rest from Cape Horn pullout. Note green trees both above and to the east of the prominence. Also, I think I see one green tree in that summit area.
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Area just west of Angel's Rest. (West side of Coopey Creek drainage). From Cape Horn.
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Western most damage I could find (west of Angel's Rest), from Cape Horn.
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Last edited by Charley on September 20th, 2017, 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Charley
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 20th, 2017, 9:24 pm

Looking toward Multnomah Falls from Cape Horn. Definitely looks like a "mosaic burn." I'm especially heartened to see some green trees up in what I think is Multnomah Basin. Note that the cottonwood galleries look pretty good in most areas. We saw a few patches of burn, but mostly they are as green as ever for this time of year.
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View of mouth of Oneonta Gorge from Cape Horn. Hard to see exactly is going on here from that vantage.
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Angel's Rest from Cape Horn. Much of Coopey Creek appears unburned. While traveling back home on I-84, we observed some brush at the scree slope (before the falls) was burned.
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Charley
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 20th, 2017, 9:28 pm

Multnomah Falls from St Cloud Day Use Area (I've never been there before and it's a neat old apple grove with interpretive trail!). Note that the flip-flop/high-heels trail area seems to have fared pretty well.
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Multnomah Falls from St Cloud Day Use Area. This shows some of the burn in the region of the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop, which I think was the first trail I ever hiked in the Gorge. Visible are Vista Point Trail area, Devil's Rest, the Rim (looks not too bad!). Impossible to tell about Wahkeena Creek or Wahkeena Springs from this vantage.
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Angel's Rest from St Cloud Day Use Area. Very patchy here. Trail 420C runs along that ridge line at the top of the photo.
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The mouth of Oneonta Gorge from St Cloud Day Use Area. Up close, this area looked like one of the worst hit.
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View of mouth of Oneonta Gorge from St Cloud Day Use Area. The area above Horsetail Creek is one of the harder hit areas. These would be the southwest slopes of Yeon Mountain, right? But lots of green still higher up above there.
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Charley
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 20th, 2017, 9:32 pm

View up Oneonta Gorge from Franz Lake Observation Platform. Looks like much of the canyon bottom is toast. Patchier higher up. Maybe.
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View up Oneonta Gorge from Franz Lake Observation Platform. This is my favorite photo. It's the worst, photographically, of the whole set (tripod at its height limit, in a little wind, with a cheap '90's 300mm Quantaray lens, on an 8 year old Canon crop-sensor). But what you're seeing, is, I believe the Bell Creek old growth itself. Please click the image to enlarge it. I think it looks green and unburned. Gives me hope, at least!
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View from Beacon Rock State Park picnic area. I think this is in the vicinity of the Nesmith Point Trail, but I'm not certain exactly where. I was struck by the alternating bands of green trees, trees with reddish, burned needles, and totally blackened trees.
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Munra Point from Beacon Rock State Park picnic area. Munra Point and vicinity appears to be toast. Crispy, crispy toast. May be the worst area.
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View from Beacon Rock State Park picnic area of the face of Yeon Mountain.
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View from Beacon Rock State Park picnic area of the face of Yeon Mountain. Somehow I couldn't ever get a shot of St Peter's Dome.
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Last edited by Charley on September 20th, 2017, 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Charley
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 20th, 2017, 9:35 pm

View of Ruckel Ridge and the mouth of Eagle Creek itself, from the Bonneville Dam access road. Those first hundred or two yards are pretty green. The rest looks crispy.
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View of Tanner Creek from Bonneville Dam Access Road. Looks pretty bad up on that west side of the drainage, but I don't think that section has any trail on it.
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View of Ruckel Ridge from the Bonneville Dam access road. I'm super curious as to the fate of Benson Plateau. Its west slope is toasty.
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Looking east from Bonneville Dam access road. I think this is the Dry Creek Drainage.
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Charley
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 20th, 2017, 9:44 pm

Slopes to the northwest of Benson Plateau, above Cascade Locks, from the viewpoint above the Bridge of the Gods.
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Slopes to the northwest of Benson Plateau, above Cascade Locks, from the viewpoint above the Bridge of the Gods. Those poor residents must have been scared. I can't imagine having this going on, right above my head.
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Dry Creek drainage (I think) from the viewpoint above the Bridge of the Gods. I'm guessing that this amount of burn in the watershed of the town of Cascade Locks is going to have a big effect on the safety of their water supply. I wonder if Nestle is still interested in trucking it out to California?
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View from the viewpoint above the Bridge of the Gods. Below Benson Plateau.
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View south from where Passage Way meets Highway 14, just east of Stevenson. That's a clear cut on Wyeth Bench in the foreground, Nick Eaton Ridge in the background. I'm relieved to see much of it appears not to have burned.
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View south from where Passage Way meets Highway 14, just east of Stevenson. View of Nick Eaton Ridge slopes.
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View south from where Passage Way meets Highway 14. Herman Creek! Looks beautiful, still. Though I can't really tell what burned, I don't think it's as bad, at least down this far.
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View south from where Passage Way meets Highway 14. Herman Creek!
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Charley
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 20th, 2017, 9:46 pm

View of Nick Eaton Ridge from Skamania County Courthouse, Stevenson.
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View of Nick Eaton Ridge from Skamania County Courthouse, Stevenson. This is either some high point along the ridge, or it's Green Point Mountain.
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View of Indian Point from Skamania County Courthouse, Stevenson. I don't think too much of that burned.
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Webfoot » September 20th, 2017, 10:48 pm

Thanks so much for these photos. I have been terribly curious but circumstances haven't made it easy for me to get out that way this month.

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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Bosterson » September 20th, 2017, 11:30 pm

Thanks for putting these up, Charley. With the rains subduing the fire, I expect we will get lots of people scoping out the damage from across the river as soon as the weather clears.

Some notes on some of your photos:
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This is Horsetail Ridge on the right and the ROA ridge on the left (Yeon Mountain proper is a little farther east). That area was definitely hit hard. I found a picture of it in a KATU article photo album that I was able to extract:
KATU wrote:Image
It's very clear that the entire west side of Horsetail Ridge is bare. The thing in the upper left is Devil's Backbone on ROA - I expect that whole ridge is pretty fried; there don't appear to be any live trees from Ponytail up to the Backbone. (Someone also told me that they'd heard the arch collapsed? but this is hearsay.)
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This one is indeed looking at the NE Buttress of Yeon. It's sad to see how high the burn areas go up into Tumalt Creek; considering that all the wild Nesmith off trail routes require ropes anchored to trees, I wonder if there are enough trees left?
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You called this one Yeon, but what I think we're actually looking at is the eastern side of the face of Nesmith; the central thing sticking out would be the Island. It looks like this area sustained a lot of damage, but it's patchy. The last time I was up there, we were swinging ice axes into downed logs while climbing up a random gully, getting rained on. Hard to imagine it being so dry it'd light up like a tinderbox.
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I believe this photo is looking at Wauneka Point, with Nesmith Ridge foregrounded below and right. (This would mean the Nesmith trail and box canyon would be out of frame to the right.) If so, Wauneka got hit hard - this wouldn't be surprising judging by what happened to Munra. The barren point upper right would be the "summit" just above the Indian pits.
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This is the most astonishing to me. It's not surprising - we're looking down into Eagle Creek, at the birthplace of the fire, where you'd expect it to have ravaged the area pretty considerably. But still, to see such destruction - the whole hillside may actually be barren. The charred slope on the right doesn't have trails, but it's roughly the ridge that leads up to Upper Wauna Falls. It's hard to know if the other ridges suffered the same catastrophic fate, but Eagle Creek has many lovely ridges running from the creek up to Tanner Ridge and the Benson; it would be tragic if those forested ridges all lost their forest, though maybe in a few years they'll be interesting flower ridges with views.

Too bad you weren't able to get a pic of St. Peter's Dome. When I was out there a week and a half ago, it was too smoky to really get a sense of what you were looking at, but I'd stopped at the Doetsch Ranch area and had a partial view of Nesmith and Yeon, and once I realized what I was seeing, I was shocked: Mystery Trail (the ridge running south from the Dome) looked completely denuded, as did the top of Katani.

I know that in the long run this doesn't matter - it only affects our sensibilities, while the forest itself will regrow and may even be healthier for all this (unless Greg Walden manages to pass his salvage logging plan, but I digress). But it's still hard to know that so much of the forest is gone and won't return in my lifetime...
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Charley
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Re: Eagle Creek Fire Damage Photos (9/20/2017)

Post by Charley » September 21st, 2017, 7:15 am

Bosterson wrote:
Image
This is the most astonishing to me. It's not surprising - we're looking down into Eagle Creek, at the birthplace of the fire, where you'd expect it to have ravaged the area pretty considerably. But still, to see such destruction - the whole hillside may actually be barren. The charred slope on the right doesn't have trails, but it's roughly the ridge that leads up to Upper Wauna Falls. It's hard to know if the other ridges suffered the same catastrophic fate, but Eagle Creek has many lovely ridges running from the creek up to Tanner Ridge and the Benson; it would be tragic if those forested ridges all lost their forest, though maybe in a few years they'll be interesting flower ridges with views.
This is Tanner Creek. I was just north of Bradford Island, looking directly South. It's all pretty burned, huh?

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