Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

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retired jerry
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Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by retired jerry » October 20th, 2011, 8:42 am

I spent a few nights at Cairn Basin to check out the Dollar Lake fire. Started at Top Spur trailhead.

I never saw any indication it's okay to be in this area, except the comments on this website - okay after 10/15. I went up on 10/14 (I'm a rule breaker by nature). I just figured I'de check it out and if there was anything that looked dangerous (which there wasn't) I'de turn around. I saw about 6 groups of people that thought the same.

I think that the Timberline Trail, Eden Park Trail, trails up to Barret Spur and McNeil are all passable. I also talked to someone that went up the Vista Ridge trail to Timberline. There are places with blackened trees across trail - it's hard not to get black hands. Over the winter there will probably be more fallen trees plus soil erosion so it will probably be worse.

Crude map:
dollarlakefire.jpg
Before #1 are the ponds. From up above you can see how the fire creeped over the ridge but you can't see anything along the trail:
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There was a warning sign at the trailhead and at the Mazama trail junction - trails closed until further notice:
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The fire had a number of fingers that intersected the trails. Generally the fire followed a ridge up the mountain. Where the Timberline trail is, the trees diminish so this is about where the fire stopped.

A little before Cairn Basin, #1 on the map, there was a mildly burned area. No trees across trail or anything:
009.JPG
Then right when you get to Cairn Basin there was a narrow finger (#2 on map). This burned the trail sign showing the way to Eden Park. That's the only damaged trail sign I saw:
034.JPG
The fire burned right next to the shelter, but they cut a bunch of branches away to save it. I slept there because it was raining when I got there. It's pretty rain-proof:
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The North corner of Cairn Basin is burned pretty severely. Several campsites are unusable, but most of Cairn Basin is fine including most campsites:
028.JPG
One night, someone else camped at the other end of Cairn Basin from me.

I walked down through Eden Park. The first maybe 0.1 mile (leaving Cairn Basin) is burned with trees across trail, but then it's fine. Eden Park:
039.JPG
Going from Eden Park to Vista Ridge is another heavily burned area.

WyEast Basin is fine:
065.JPG
Walking back to Cairn Basin through heavily burned area #3:
070.JPG
Most of the area burned is only slightly burned, like this singed Heather. There's still green underneath. I think this will eventually recover. There are a lot of trees like this also:
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Vista Ridge from up above. You can see bands of brown, singed trees, and completely burned black trees. The trail from Eden Park goes through there:
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I went up Barret Spur from Dollar Lake. The Lake and campsites are fine, but the fire (#4 on map) got close:
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Barret Spur is a great destination. A little snow that never melted and more that's recently fallen:
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I went most of the way up Barret Spur, then encountered bear, and went down the WyEast trail, no fire damage.

Then I went over to Elk Cove.

After going past Dollar Lake, just as the trail starts down into Elk Cove, there's a thin finger of fire that didn't affect trail at all, and didn't make it all the way to Dollar Lake:
135.JPG
Then a little further is a heavily burned area (#4 on map). There's this large tree that fell over onto a small tree, and the large tree burned out except the bark. I don't think that will stay standing very long:
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Down in Elk Cove, the fire came very close to the Timberline and Elk Cove trails, but didn't really affect them. Elk Cove trail sign, fire behind:
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Taking the Timberline Trail down to the Coe Creek crossing, there's another heavily burned area (#5 on map).

Just before Coe is how far I got. I got a nice view of Stranahan Ridge. It's heavily burned. You can see bands of brown singed trees and black trees. This is all way below the Timberline trail which goes a ways above. I think there is minimal damage to the trail there but probably some burned places (#6 on map):
157.JPG
Mountain Ash berries in Elk Cove. There should be bears there:
173.JPG

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adamschneider
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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by adamschneider » October 20th, 2011, 9:23 am

I went to Mt. St. Helens on Tuesday, and the only nice fall colors were in the blast zone, where the trees were gone and there was plenty of sun. It made me think of this fire and how the lack of trees may eventually create some pretty cool landscapes up on the north side of Hood.

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Waffle Stomper
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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by Waffle Stomper » October 20th, 2011, 9:46 am

Nice to see things are much better than I had imagined. Thanks for the trip report.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir

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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by Splintercat » October 20th, 2011, 12:13 pm

Thanks, Jerry - great report! Did you happen to get a photo of the boulder-filled meadow in the basin on the southwest shoulder of Vista Ridge (on the TT between Ladd Creek and WyEast Basin)? The maps suggest that it burned, but it's pretty open in there, so I'm hoping some of the big mountain hemlock stands were spared.

Tom

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retired jerry
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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by retired jerry » October 20th, 2011, 3:15 pm

I don't remember exactly where you're talking about Tom

Vista Ridge was burned pretty good on the West side, right up to the ridge line

In the burned areas, there are small islands or fingers where it didn't burn

And there are small spots where it burned inside the "unburned" areas

Only the forested areas burned. Any boulder fields did not burn.

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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by Splintercat » October 20th, 2011, 7:22 pm

This is (or was) the spot, Jerry:

Image

-Tom

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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by adamschneider » October 20th, 2011, 8:16 pm

Last edited by adamschneider on October 20th, 2011, 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by retired jerry » October 20th, 2011, 9:15 pm

The fire started just to the West of Vista Ridge and went above the Timberline Trail.

If your boulder field is on the West side, it must be in the burned area

But, only treed areas burned, any meadow did not, but some of the vegetation could have gotten singed

And if the trees are above the meadow, then they probably wouldn't have burned, it's like a fire break, the fire came from down below

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roadtripmom
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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by roadtripmom » October 20th, 2011, 9:50 pm

What a huge change. Thank you for sharing all the photos, it is great to have a visual to match the reports.
Filling my bucket, one hike at a time.
Amanda

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geographics
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Re: Cairn Basin/Dollar Lake Fire 10/18/2011

Post by geographics » October 20th, 2011, 11:12 pm

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Last edited by geographics on February 23rd, 2012, 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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