Deschutes State Park

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arieshiker
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Deschutes State Park

Post by arieshiker » October 29th, 2018, 6:36 am

Haven’t seen any recent reports from the Deschutes State Park area, so I thought I’d post a few remarks from several hikes I’ve taken from a few days before the big fire and since.

The park campground wasn’t affected much by the fire thanks to 24/7 work from all the crews, many of whom were staged there. Both sides of the river were heavily involved in the fire, and it shows with all the darkened areas as far as the eye can see in many spots.

All the trails are in fine shape, the lower river trails will probably be tick free til spring growth thanks to the vegetation being burnt off. Also, all the lower trails are now easily visible from the Upper rail-bed trail - first time experience for me seeing those and kind of interesting after not seeing them for years.

I’ve been using the upper road bed trail for recovery/conditioning hikes, along with Cottonwood Canyon trails, and was on Deschutes a few days before the fire, and a few days after the park reopened. Post-fire aromas still exist in spots, which speaks to the intensity of the burns. Hillsides are stripped bare, so winter/spring storms could prove problematic with erosion and slides an issue.

Most of the river bank areas are still lush and green, but a few steps back and you can tell the fire lines. Come early spring, the campground will be undergoing some construction - see the park website for details.

Some random images from the area, including two from just before the fire to show how much fuel was there to burn. The grasses were dry and in places chest high.
Attachments
Trail&RiverGoingBack.JPG
MileMarker2BeforeFire.JPG
MileMarker2Today.JPG
LookingBack-1.5 miles in.JPG
GoingBack.JPG
GoingOut4.JPG
GoingOut2.JPG
GoingOut.JPG
FerrySpringsTrailFullyExposedNow.JPG

Ron Goodwin
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by Ron Goodwin » October 29th, 2018, 9:45 am

Thanks and usually go there in the Spring. This year the water was up in the campground.

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adamschneider
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by adamschneider » October 29th, 2018, 12:30 pm

It'll be interesting to see whether it greens up in the spring, or if it was just too hot and burned the grasses down to the roots.

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drm
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by drm » October 29th, 2018, 1:19 pm

I was just there and many of the bunch grasses already have green shoots, so I think most were not burned to the root. With the survival of most of the riparian strip, this fire was probably if anything helpful for the local environment. Not so for the farmers over the ridge top, though. I had a tour led by a local farmer a while back and a number of structures, including some historic barns photos of which were very famous, were lost.

I did the Ferry Springs trail Saturday and I can add that the bench is gone.

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adamschneider
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by adamschneider » October 29th, 2018, 1:58 pm

Google Earth has surreal-looking imagery from 7/22/18:

DRSRA.jpg

(I'm pretty sure there's some false-color stuff going on here; some of the fields on top are unnaturally bluish.)

arieshiker
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by arieshiker » October 29th, 2018, 2:16 pm

Amazing imagery, Adam - thanks...….sure looks that way along the river. Can't imagine it looking any better up over the hills, but they were putting a lot of effort into containment where the winds weren't howling, which seemed mostly driving the fires south and east. I believe those winds also helped some with the root salvation on the plants. Numerous plants had their stems/trunks charred to deep black, yet their tops have already started blooming (slightly) or didn't burn out completely. At a few few spots along the road, I saw what looked like mini-gardens taking hold. Probably a survival weed, but it was deep green and thriving. Pretty amazing stuff. According to reports, all the structures that "lived" along the upper (road) trail are gone now, or so heavily damaged they won't survive through spring.

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retired jerry
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by retired jerry » October 29th, 2018, 2:26 pm

It burned a few years ago about 15 miles from the Columbia River. It's recovered pretty good. There was an old railroad car that has disappeared.

There is (was?) another railroad car maybe 7 miles from the Columbia, I wonder how that fared.

I wonder how the concrete outhouses fared. I bet they survived without any effect.

Another trip I'm looking forward to in the next few months.

arieshiker
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by arieshiker » October 29th, 2018, 2:34 pm

Jerry - yes, the old wooden rail car at about 5.7 miles in burned - gonna miss that lone hunk of shade for a lunch break. The campsite outhouses all survived. From what I was told, they had crews out there, and when I passed by the first one going up the hill between miles 3 and 4, it looked just fine. Even the area around it was okay with a few new roads created. Amazing a few of the benches on the lower trails just as you leave the campground area are still there. Probably not all of them but I saw two. I didn't go down to examine them so the seats might be a bit charred.

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adamschneider
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by adamschneider » October 29th, 2018, 9:42 pm

According to an OregonLive article from late July:
-- All 8,500 acres of the state-managed recreation area were involved.

-- At least 75 percent of riverside trees and vegetation were burned and will probably die. In most places, only a two-to-three foot strip of grass remains.

-- The last surviving boxcar on the east bank burned down.

-- All of the historic buildings at the Harris Canyon Ranch and the water tower are gone (only the commemorative plaque remains).

-- Composting outhouses at Harris Canyon and Kloan are destroyed. Concrete toilets survived.

-- Most campsites are burned.

-- Donors' commemorative metal markers seem to have survived the flames, but may be charred.

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bobcat
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Re: Deschutes State Park

Post by bobcat » November 1st, 2018, 7:13 am

Thanks for the report and the comparison photos. Yes, those historic structures are no longer a draw for heading down the canyon. Maybe the wildflowers will be good this spring, though.

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