The Eagle Creek Fire was started in September 2, 2017 by a 15-year old boy lighting fireworks during a well-broadcast burn ban. The fire took off at an unbelievable clip. The fire was reported at 4:00 pm on this day, and by the next morning it had already burned over 3,000 acres. On September 5th, it actually jumped the Columbia River into Washington near Archer Mountain! 153 hikers were trapped in the backcountry, 6 miles up the trail. When all was said and done, the fire had burned over 50,000 acres and took three months to finally contain. It would have consumed Multnomah Lodge if it weren't for fire tenders. The damage was devastating.
I really wasn't sure what to expect. Though a totally different event, in my head I was expecting the same type of recovery as Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument after the eruptions. To a large degree, I think this is true - at a much quicker pace due to the lower elevation.
The signs are first noticed while driving along the scenic highway. Fences that were not previously present have been erected above the road to catch any debris that may come skidding down the mountainside.
The trail from the lower Multnomah viewpoint up to the Benson Bridge has such fencing immediately above the trail. Signs of the burn are everywhere, including very uncomfortably close to the lodge. Along this trail are signs of darker times, as well as hope. Many trees are charred on their lower half, yet stand stoically with their full health up high. Other trees weren't as lucky.
The good news for people wishing to visit this area is that most of the waterfalls I visited are not affected for photography or simply enjoying from the traditional observation areas. Of all the waterfalls I visited, only Wahkeena saddened me to sea a large charred stump at the based of the falls, much too large to disappear anytime soon through the course of nature.
To see more images from this area, be sure to visit my Columbia River Gorge Gallery at www.mountainscenes.com.
As always, thanks for looking! Hope to see you on the trail!