Return to Eagle Creek

A the beginning of a typical dry, hot September in 2017, a teenager threw fireworks into Eagle Creek Canyon, setting off a three month long blaze that destroyed 50,000 acres of beautiful forested wilderness in the Columbia River Gorge. Many parts of the Gorge have been closed ever since, as burned areas and the subsequent dead trees lead to many issues like increased erosion, flooding, and invasive species. While  trails have been slowly opening (like Angel's Rest), many of us who love the Gorge have been holding our breath for the reopening of the Eagle Creek Trail. Eagle Creek was the first place I ever went hiking with my now husband over 20 years ago and one of the first trails I took Susan running on outside of Forest Park. 




It happened on Friday, 1 January 2021-- perhaps proof that this year will be better than the last. As soon as I found out I pinged Susan and said we need to take a day off and go run Eagle Creek. We decided on Thursday, January 7th hoping that it would be less crowded than Friday or the weekend. We opted to leave Cedar at home knowing that it would be crowded regardless of the day and the trails are narrow with potential dangerous drop offs. It was the right decision the parking lot was full by 8am and trying to pass folks while running on the narrow trails was challenging, especially trying maintain covid distance. 


New Bridge

Punch Bowl Falls

There was so much of Eagle Creek that looked the same, but a lot less vibrant. Along with most of the trees most of the emerald green moss was dead. The dead trees did bring a lot of different views of Eagle Creek and all the waterfalls. While the run was very sobering, in some ways it didn't feel like it had been almost 4 years since we stepped foot on the trail. I thought I was going to cry seeing the devastation but instead I couldn't stop smiling, especially when we ran through tunnel falls. The 15 miles on Eagle Creek were probably the best 15 miles we had ran in a long time and exactly what we needed in the middle of the pandemic. 


Burn

Tunnel Falls 2009

Tunnel Falls 2021


A few days after we ran Eagle Creek the trail was closed again due to mudslides that took out portions of the trail, so we were really fortunate that we were able to experience Eagle Creek  again. 


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