The Eagle Creek Fire And What Can We Do About It

If you somehow missed the fire that is raging in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge at the moment, I can understand. The Eagle Creek fire (as it is being called in the media) is a small one compared to some of the other wildfires raging throughout the western US. With millions of acres burning in North America (BC, Canada, is still fighting one of the biggest fires in their history),the Eagle Creek fire is relatively small: currently around 30,000 acres (as of Wednesday, September 6th).

Eagle Creek Fire

I don't want to go into all the details about the fire, but here is the gist of it: at some point on September 2nd, a fire started at the northern end of the Eagle Creek trail due to what is believed to be firecrackers. The conditions at the time were volatile: strong, hot winds with very dry and hot weather. The fire spread fast and wide, trapping hikers along the Eagle Creek trail (all got out safely) and quickly spreading towards Cascade Locks. Most of the Columbia Gorge is now evacuated and firefighters are working to prevent the spread of the fire. If you want to read more, check the Oregon Live updating page about the fire.

I personally haven't been in Oregon for long, about a year now, so I was very surprised when I found that the fire touched me so much. In the last few days I have been sad, frustrated and angry, hoping I could find a way to help with this foolish fire. It is hard to explain what the Columbia Gorge means to dwellers of northern Oregon, but I can tell a bit of my experience: every time I needed an escape, a run, a quick overnight, a place to test new gear or just breathe some green, I went out to the Gorge. I planned on taking my mother in law to see it next week because we missed it a few weeks back; and now we can't. I was looking forward to hike up Angel's rest with my kids on the weekend and I promised my daughter we would go backpacking there when the weather got cooler. 

The Gorge is a truly unique place for the people who live around it. One of the best pieces I have read about it was in the Oregonian: As Eagle Creek fire rages, why we mourn for the gorge by Jamie Hale. It is worth reading, especially if you can't understand what I'm talking about. I'm sure every place has their own "Gorge".

The Columbia Gorge in all its glory

As I mentioned, I have been trying to find a way to support and help, but since people are not needed on the ground (I've asked) and we are only a small company I can't offer much - it seems that trekking poles are not good for fighting fire. So after a lot of thinking, I've decided to focus on the next stage: restoration. I already planned on volunteering with the "Friends of the Columbia Gorge" this fall, so I think my help will be much needed. To add to that, 10% of all the sales we make on our site this month (September 2017) will go to the Friends of the Columbia Gorge. 

Helping nature to recover requires time, effort and money. I will be giving my personal time and effort to help the Gorge recover, and Cnoc Outdoors will be pitching in with the money. As for the time frame: the fire is estimated to be fully contained by the end of the month; as long as it is going, Cnoc will continue to put money aside.

Gear testing in the forests of the Gorge

So that is it, we are going to save and restore the Gorge, and we can use your help - 10% of anything you spend on this site will go to help the restoration.

For some more reading, here is a great and optimistic article about the future of the Gorge post-fire and a comprehensive FAQ on the fire by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

I'll close off with one small note of irony: just last week I wrote about fire safety in the backcountry. I also spent Labor Day weekend with my family, camping, where I explained my daughter a lot about fire safety, how to make a safe fire and how to respect fire. When all that was done and over, we came back to this: a huge fire, consuming the Gorge, only 40 miles away. Needless to say, my daughter and I continued the conversations about fire safety. I hope you do the same with your loved ones.


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