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Tue Sep 5, 2017, 08:34 PM

Paradise...Lost

In my life, there are two places that have been special to me beyond all others. Places where I instantly found myself at peace, closest to nature.

Yosemite National Park is one of them.

The Columbia Gorge is the other.

I have visited the Gorge many, many times since I've been a member of DU. No doubt you have seen many of my photographs from there.

Last Saturday, a group of teenagers playing with firecrackers in a burn-zone area, during the hottest and driest stretch of the year, managed to set brush on fire in the Eagle Creek canyon, probably the most celebrated and scenic area of the Gorge. Driven by strong east winds, the fire spread rapidly; amazingly enough, in the course of three days, it had spread forty-six miles to the east, crossed the Columbia River to the Washington side, threatened the outskirts of Portland, possibly damaged the city's water supply, and, astonishingly, managed to torch the entire Oregon side of the Gorge. The place I loved so much lies in ashes, unlikely to return to its now-past glory for half-a-century or more.

Here are some of my images from my travels to the Gorge. With the possible exception of the last two, all are now essentially destroyed.

Latourell Falls







Shepperd's Dell Falls













Bridal Veil Falls










Wahkeena Falls







Lower Wahkeena Creek







Upper Wahkeena Creek







Fairy Falls







Multnomah Falls










Ponytail Falls




Horsetail Falls













Munra Falls




Wahclella Falls




Metlako Falls




Sorenson Creek




Punch Bowl Falls




Emerald Falls (possibly undamaged)




Gorton Creek (possibly undamaged)




At this point, my inclination, once the truth is known about the extent of the damage, is to remove these photographs from my website and never offer them publicly again. I wish to celebrate the beauty of nature as it is now, not as it used to be and is no more.


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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Tue Sep 5, 2017, 08:43 PM

1. Enchanting scenery! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos. nt

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Tue Sep 5, 2017, 08:44 PM

2. Let me urge you, my dear regnaD kcinN, to leave these photos up!

To stand as a glorious reminder of our carelessness and stupidity.

My heart weeps as I behold the wonder and beauty you have captured.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Tue Sep 5, 2017, 08:44 PM

3. Looks like some amazing places might be burned

here in oregon. Saw Couger reservoir was on fire the other night too but haven't heard the full extent of the damage. It's been a terrible last few weeks

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Response to askyagerz (Reply #3)

Tue Sep 5, 2017, 08:54 PM

4. There are many, many wildfires right now...

...at the moment, the Norse Creek Fire is burning just east of Mount Rainier (fortunately, it doesn't seem about to jump into the park itself). It's close enough to our home that there's a persistent smell of smoke in the air, the sun is a dark orange disk, and ash has been lightly falling since last night.

Still, as bad as that is, it can't compare to the loss of the entire Columbia Gorge. That's as if an arson fire had completely destroyed the Louvre.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Tue Sep 5, 2017, 09:37 PM

5. Gorgeous photos. I can "feel" the serenity and peace of those scenes.

Right now, we could all use the quiet of nature to restore our faith that we will recover the areas as they once were. In looking at the last photo, I can almost feel the damp moss on the rocks and the cool of the deep, shady spot.

Please don't destroy these photos. They are too beautiful in their own right and we need to be reminded from time to time that we aren't the greatest caretakers. We need to learn to work in harmony with Mother Nature.

Thank you for posting these photos.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Tue Sep 5, 2017, 09:58 PM

6. I would like to see them published, along with other of your pics

with some of the proceeds given to the appropriate nature conservation groups.
Pics like these could be a powerful statement for educating/motivating conservation. I bet you could easily find people who would help with that idea.

Right now, I understand the pain of loss.
Maybe give it a little time before a final decision?

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Tue Sep 5, 2017, 10:12 PM

7. those should be a calendar or book. beautiful. i HATE firecrackers & stupid yahoos.

but nature will be back. takes time. but it will be back. there was a fire in the forest near the family cottage & i got some lovely photos. some yahoo burned down the near biggest pine in WI. i checked that out too.

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Response to pansypoo53219 (Reply #7)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 12:55 AM

8. Actually, I already have a book available that includes many of those photos...

It's been out for a couple of years.



Here's the link to the page on my website.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 12:57 AM

9. This is heartbreaking.

Last edited Wed Sep 6, 2017, 08:46 AM - Edit history (1)

Just heartbreaking.

Love your photos so much that I saved them. They're like cherished memories of loved ones, Paradise lost but not forgotten.

Thank you for sharing these here.
Global warming has destroyed my idealism but I like to hold onto fragments of beauty wherever I can.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 04:08 AM

10. Thank you.

I've been to the Columbia River Gorge only once, when visiting Portland. The trip was a great one, with beloved family members who share my love of the natural world.

It was one of the most beautiful and magical places I've ever been. To think of it stripped bare, in smoldering ashes, is almost unbearable.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 08:40 AM

11. It makes me sick to know that these gorgeous places of such beauty

have been destroyed for more than a generation due to carelessness and stupidity.

I bought a copy of your book when it first came out to send to my cousin who lives north of Seattle and recently bought a cabin in Montana.
His "stomping grounds" are being affected, too, by all these fires in the PNW.

Please don't remove your photos. I second the sentiment expressed by others that we need, now more than ever, reminders
of just how beautiful this earth can be and how it is up to us to keep it that way.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 01:46 PM

12. I'm so, so sorry

I've never even been there, but now I feel like crying for what's been lost.

It seems a metaphor of the tragedy that has been this year.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 09:45 PM

13. Please keep these photos available

Use them for the good they make people who see them feel
For the shame I hope they cause the perpetrators of the fires cause
For possibly making their lives better in the future knowing what they did
Keep them

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Thu Sep 7, 2017, 03:58 AM

14. There are many beautiful places I will never get to see.

Thanks to your beautiful photos for allowing me to see one of them. I am so sorry for your loss and for this loss to humanity.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Sun Sep 10, 2017, 04:16 AM

15. Trump refused Oregon Governor's request for help with firefighting 2 weeks ago:

http://www.opb.org/news/article/kate-brown-oregon-governor-wildfire-resources-trump-administration/

Be sure every Oregonian, and every in every fire-prone state, knows about this betrayal. Federal fighters are finally there now, but it's far too little, far too late.

Your photos are beautiful, and I hope the area will someday grow back, though that will take many years, if ever.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Original post)

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 06:03 PM

17. Kind of good news

"Not a 'blackened apocalypse'

Mayor of Hood River Paul Blackburn, whose town began to see evacuation levels change over the weekend (to level 1, be ready), offered hope from his view of the landscape.

"I was sort of imagining a blackened apocalypse. And in almost everywhere I went, it is not that. Now having said that, seeing plumes of smoke every quarter mile is kind of disconcerting. This is clearly a huge impact," Blackburn told reporters at a Saturday press conference at the Troutdale Police headquarters. Many Multnomah County officials also made appearances, including county Chair Deborah Kafoury and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. "But it's not been annihilated, and I do think those of us who love the gorge are going to be pretty relieved when we go out there to discover that it doesn't look like mars," Blackburn said.

...

Officials and firefighters from many different agencies, including Portland Fire and Rescue, have been on the front lines of the fire to keep it contained. To the joy of many, they successfully protected the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge a hot spot tourist attraction at the base of the falls, about 30 miles east of Portland.


http://www.pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/371750-255584-hope-and-fear-mix-as-fires-still-burn

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Response to hermetic (Reply #17)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 07:58 PM

18. It's been mixed good and bad...

The best news is that the fire (so far, at least -- it's far from out yet) appears to have not gone far enough west to impact Latourell Falls. Similarly, it appears that Bridal Veil Falls may have been just north of where the fire stopped.

There was a major effort to save Multnomah Falls Lodge (not surprising, as it's one of the big tourist attractions of the Portland area). The lodge was saved, although fire came very close (as in, within a few dozen feet) of it. There is some damage to the Multnomah Falls area itself, but very little, considering what could have happened, and it looks pretty much as it did before.

I saw one shot from the roadway alongside Wahkeena Falls, indicating that the tree canopy remained intact, at least near the road. How much the rest of that particular waterfall was affected, I can't say, since I'm only going by that picture and the public is still barred from the area and looks likely to be for some time. But, in areas where the tree canopy remained undamaged, recovery should happen relatively quickly, within the next few years.

A very quick and very close-up video of Horsetail Falls left more questions than answers. Obviously, there was damage, with at least some trees completely burned, but I couldn't tell if that was true of the whole scene.

The rest of the falls...well, I wish I could be so optimistic. In general, most of the locations I've mentioned are right by the roadside; I fear that, as you hike up and away from the highway, it will be pretty bad. I especially fear for Eagle (Metlako and Punch Bowl) and Tanner (Wahclella) Creeks themselves, as well as Ruckel Creek, a beloved photographic location I had yet to visit.

The worst news is that, over the past day, strong winds out of the west have pushed the eastern border of the fire (which had almost entirely burned south and west beforehand) quite a distance more to the east. From the look of the maps I saw this morning, I suspect that Gorton Creek, the location for those last two photos, might be burned by now (as a matter of fact, I just checked...it appears the fire came right down to the place I was standing when I took that Emerald Falls photo); in fact, it's moved so far to the east, I fear for Starvation Creek State Park, whose waterfalls I didn't even bother including in the OP because I figured there was no way the fire could come close to reaching it. If that happens, it means that the entire Gorge has been affected; while it has been a "mosaic fire" to this point, leaving sections undamaged, the current scenario suggests that, while there still may be some "roadside attractions" still looking good enough to draw the tourists, virtually every trail through the Gorge -- most of which head south into the hills -- will have been burned at some point or another. If your plans are to hike more than a half-mile or so into the area, you're probably going to find a lot of what used to be there reduced to scorched earth -- the sort of damage that will take many decades to restore.

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