Don Nelsen wrote:I remember several fires in the gorge over the years and don't remember any closures post fire. Even the one in Oct. of '91 that scorched an area from Multnomah Falls to Angel's Rest didn't result in closed trails. I hiked Angels Rest, Wahkeena and even the Perdition Trail while a few trees were still smoldering. There was no problem: no rocks came tumbling down, no trees or branches fell. Most of that came much later during heavy rain, wind and time that rotted the damaged trees. I think the FS is overreacting to the extreme and costing taxpayers a fortune in manpower costs to police this mostly unnecessary closure. They have also destroyed or severely damaged Gorge businesses due to their extreme reactions. I admit, some trails, due to the increased popularity over the past few years might be looked at more carefully such as the touristy ones like Eagle Creek and Angels' Rest but most others and most of the closed areas need to be opened up.
We all accept the inherent dangers of hiking when we go out: Rock slides, falling limbs and trees, wild animals, cliffs, weather, etc. etc. I haven't needed a mother to watch over me for over 50 years and I certainly don't need one now. What is wrong with "continue at your own risk"?
Sorry, but I wouldn't equate those two fires at all. That was 1,600 acres, this is almost 49,000. You've currently got nearly every drainage in the gorge with serious damage to it. 'Continue at your own risk' doesn't cut it here, A: most people don't understand the risks that they're taking, and B: The risks aren't always apparent. You could be hiking in untouched forest, and have an entire ridgeline of compromised slope above you give way. It is
going to happen, there are going to be slides that dramatically alter / bury trails out there. There are thousands of hazard trees, that most people outside of the fire/rescue/timber occupations wouldn't bat an eye at. Burnt ground cover destabilizes the ground, making it prone to slides. Lack of water absorption increases runoff, increasing erosion, increasing slides. Tree fall blocks and reroutes traditional water flows, increasing erosion, increasing slides. One post-burn study I was reading for an older burn elsewhere in Oregon had peak drainage flows for the year after the fire anywhere from 2x the flow rate, to 90 times
the water flow. We have huge drainages that were dramatically effected by this, so yes, the whole thing is a hazard area. It's also a wilderness area, so now is the time we get to practice what we preach and let nature play itself out.
Nothing remotely on this scale has been seen in the gorge for over 100 years. The Yacolt burn was before
most of these trails were put in, and not nearly as impactful on the Oregon side as this one. I'm sorry, but pretending there isn't a hazard, or that somehow your wilderness skills will let you dodge a rock fall or debris flows is just insane. For the few that do
understand the risks, there are thousands that don't, and will gladly follow you around the closure signs.