Sunday, June 18, 2017

Walking around, looking at burnt trees (and a few lakes)

Back in the 00s, I fought a few fires in the Central Oregon region. I still recall using a damp gunnysack to beat out flames in brush and grass, the first and only time I was handed a "tool" like this. I knew this place was made for fire, but I never realized how widespread fires here have been since I moved here and started hiking.

There's not a lot to love about a burned forest, but it is interesting to see how it recovers (or not). We hiked up toward Booth Lake through a landscape burned by a massive fire in 2002 or 2003. The land is slowly recovering, but not very fast, since there were few trees left to provide a seed source.


The snowline is low this year, so we turned around at Booth Lake (about 4 miles) and headed back toward the other small lakes along the trail. Camping looked sparse due to the downed trees. One good thing about the fire, though, is that the mountains could be seen in the distance.

The Three Sisters Wilderness hasn't been spared either. We headed toward it on a dusty trail, with few trees left alive.

Because one of us was on a bike, we turned around at the wilderness boundary, but it looked like the Pole fire extended at least another two miles.



The sun is intense here, blazing through the blackened trees. There still is a forest, high and low, but you can't get to the high part until the snow melts. The lower part, near town, is a sandy flat of endless pines. There are endless places to run. I had been feeling pretty burned out on running until I got here.You mean I don't need to huff up endless hills first thing? Stumble over rocks at eleven minutes a mile? How novel.

One week down, fifteen to go, and I am feeling like I could like it here for the duration. I know which side streets to take to avoid the traffic on the main drag, I joined a fancy gym with a pool, and there are places to go where I don't see a soul on the trails. It's not home, but wistfully longing for what you can't have never makes anyone happy. A summer of new trails? OK, I can make that happen.


6 comments:

  1. Yeah, lots of burn areas around Central Oregon. Starkly beautiful, but darned hot for summer hikes! You'll have to check out Canyon Creek Meadows in another month. That's a lovely wildflower hike.

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  2. I know what you mean about wild fires. Many people in Alaska who live remote, semi remote or offgrid depend on trees for their privacy or keep noise down if they live near rodes and just for the beauty and wildlife. Trees are needed for protection of wildlife.

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    1. It is pretty astonishing hoe much has burned around here and also still the houses that are not defensible.

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  3. We don't get many totally burnt forests in the East, but during one of my few trips west I was hiking in New Mexico and I came across one. I thought it was beautiful, although that's probably at least partly because it was such an unusual environment for me to be in.

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    1. I still think it's kind of cool--you can see the bones of the landscape. But it does get hot and kind of unscenic after awhile.

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