Tribute to the Eagle Creek Trail

Last month we included “hike the Eagle Creek trail with friends” on our bucket list post. We never imagined that a few weeks later a forest fire would consume the trail and more than 33,000 acres that surround it. Mr. Grumby and I are very grateful that we were able to hike the trail one last time. We’d like to share a few photos from a beautiful and memorable day as a tribute to the Eagle Creek Trail. I’ll also add some thoughts about the great loss of a sacred place.

 

 

 

Photos from Eagle Creek Trail – August 6, 2017

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

 

Some sections of the trail are narrow with steep drop-offs. Eek!

 

The cut-off for our secret side trail.

 

A short spur through dense vegetation.

 

And a fun scramble.

 

This is our glorious lunch spot.

 

Not a bad place for a relaxing picnic!

 

The boys went off to explore and hurdle large boulders.

 

They saw this waterfall surrounded by a blanket of ferns and moss.

 

And a spectacular view of the creek.

 

 

On our way down we stopped for this breath-taking waterfall.

 

We also saw a spotted fawn!

 

A selfie to document our nature-inspired cheer.

 

And an awesome collage, put together by our friends. A very special and memorable day!

 

 

 

 

Loss of a Sacred Place

All who have spent time on the Eagle Creek trail and other trails in the Columbia River Gorge are experiencing a profound loss. Though there have not yet been any human fatalities, millions of other living beings lost their lives in this fire. The plants and animals, great and small, were part of an ecosystem that provided immense restorative energy to human visitors. We turned to to these lives for inspiration and peace, and now they are gone. We will be lucky to see a full recovery in our lifetime.

 

Jamie Hale eloquently described the impact of the gorge in his September 6th article, As Eagle Creek fire rages, why we mourn for the gorge:

The gorge isn’t just a recreation area, a National Scenic Area, a pretty place to see in the summer. For many of us, the gorge is our temple, our sanctuary, our home. It’s a place we go to worship the land, to bask in the awe of nature …

We may divide ourselves into camps, but nature doesn’t. We come from different backgrounds, and live our lives differently, but the power of nature unites us. We all know what it feels like to be humbled by a mountain or to fall in love with a sunset. It touches our spirit, our heart and our soul. In the Pacific Northwest, especially, it’s a religion – our way of being, wrapped up with the Earth.

For anyone who has been similarly inspired by nature, Hale’s article is worth a read. Followed by a moment of silence for all of the natural spaces that are forever changed by careless human behavior.

 

How to Help

Cascades Region Red Cross – for the people who have been displaced from their homes

Friends of the Columbia River Gorge – to rebuild The Columbia River Gorge national treasure

 

Questions

Thinking about the 15-year old that started the fire and his fate

How was his decision to bring fireworks into a wilderness area (and to light them!!) so detached from potential consequences? (Any experts on adolescent psychology out there?)

 

What is the most compassionate way to help him learn from this mistake?

 

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.

 

  4 Replies to “Tribute to the Eagle Creek Trail”

  1. Kathleen Mattson
    September 10, 2017 at 8:23 am

    This has been such a huge shock, and there’s nothing new that I can add to the deep well of expressions of loss that we all feel about this.

    But as for the kid, or really, the kids who started this fire, my thoughts have turned time and again to them and their families. We all live our lives in the balance against the momentary whims of others. That person who drives drunk or plays with matches in the apartment: a bad decision made in a moment, that can lead to the lost lives of strangers.

    This is different from the people who are radicalized to commit terrorist acts, or people who are driven by obsessions or madness to go out and destroy. This is a moment of whimsy and stupidity — a moment of thoughtlessness that leads to mayhem.

    I imagine these kids (and to a lesser extent their families) are in a numb shock right now. They are facing years if not a lifetime of legal and financial and psychological troubles over that moment of stupid thoughtlessness. I can’t help but feel a seeping anger toward those kids, but I also pity them and their families. That one moment of stupid thoughtlessness has ruined their lives while impacting countless other lives. The enormity of it all is hard to take.

    • Mrs. Grumby
      September 10, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Thanks for your thoughts on this, Kathleen.

      It’s hard to grasp the full devastating impact of this one very bad decision.

      I hope the 15-year-old (and others) are sentenced to many years of volunteer work – planting trees, working at Red Cross shelters, helping farmers who have lost crops, learning about / then teaching outdoor education, etc. This would at least be some action toward recovery. And maybe it would transform them into advocates for the environment?

      I hope they are also ordered to pay a handsome financial restitution.

  2. September 27, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Thanks for this. With everything going on in the world many people didn’t realize that much of the west was on fire this summer! This looks like a beautiful place, and I wish I could have hiked it before it burned.

    • Mrs. Grumby
      September 27, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Thanks HP! This fire was a sobering reminder of how important it is to enjoy, appreciate, and protect our natural spaces.

      Humans need places like Eagle Creek to maintain our sanity amidst all of the insanity of world events.

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