Camp fires prohibited sign (winter in the gorge )

The West Coast is On Fire and It Sucks

Travel Talk

I promised myself that I would spend this afternoon catching up on stories about the wonders of my Alaska trip last week but as I look through my windows to the haze, smoke, and ash from the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge, Alaska seems like another world.

Camp fires prohibited sign (winter in the gorge )

If you’re not familiar, fires are raging all around the west coast. Here in the Portland area, the Eagle Creek fire (named after the iconic trail where the fire started) has grown to 10,000 acres, sparked another fire across the river into Southwest Washington and is raging. The news states that there are no injury or structure damage reports thankfully (though some evacuations have been ordered) but if you’re not familiar with the area, the land the gorge encompasses is simply breathtaking — old trails, tremendous waterfalls, and tons of life. To imagine it burning is heartbreaking to put it mildly.

Sadly this is hardly the only fire in the west right now. Parts of Mount Rainier National Park and Crystal Mountain Resort have shut down from the Norse Peak Fire, other notable fires cover central Oregon and Washington, Yosemite has a host of fires including one that has shut down access from highway 41 in the south. The Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center shows over 1,200 fires burning in the western US and who knows when the weather will change to ease things up.

Angel's Rest Summit View

View from the top. Looking over the Columbia River and greater Gorge Area to the west in early fall.

Fire is of certainly part of life, part of our world but that doesn’t make the implications any less devastating especially when it’s reported that some of these had clear human origins (like the Eagle Creek Fire which reportedly started from a teenager throwing a lit firework), is simply infuriating. I’ll leave the analysis to the experts but sufficient to say, we clearly need more education, more awareness, more respect for the world around us and our potential impact to it.

I’ve been lucky to explore the gorge dozens upon dozens of times over the last few years. I’ve hiked miles and miles of trails, driven in the dead of winter to look at frozen forests, enjoyed countless sunsets from cliff tops, and I shutter to think what all those places will be like for everyone in the years to come.

So ya, the west coast is burning and it sucks.

How to help: Organizations my friends and I have contacted have all told us they are flooded with volunteers (unless you’re in Hood River already that is) but you can always donate to the Red Cross Cascades Region @