As summer closed, we took a family vacation to Oregon. In addition to lingering in Powell’s Books, eating from food trucks, and drinking local brews and Stumptown Coffee during several days in Portland, we borrowed a friend’s car for excursions to Cannon Beach and the Columbia River Gorge. As part of our family goal to someday visit all 50 states, we made sure to cross into Washington. We grabbed that extra state with a dramatic pedestrian crossing over the Bridge of the Gods, which serves as the Columbia River crossing on the Pacific Crest Trail.
After a restful and restorative trip, I returned to work after Labor Day, as news of the Eagle Creek Fire along the Oregon/Washington border brought the reality of Western wildfires to a personal level. With visions of our triumphal Columbia River crossing still fresh, it was harrowing to learn of the breadth and rapid spread of the Eagle Creek Fire, which allegedly was started with a discarded firework. Careless fireworks are always a risk, but in the tinder box of the exceedingly dry Pacific Northwest forests this summer, this act of carelessness devastated over 50,000 acres.