I hiked up to High Lake today and noticed that the fires in Bull of the Woods and south of Olallie are still putting out a lot of smoke, but no major columns as can be seen from this picture.
The fires will probably smolder until the rain or snows come and put them out completely.
It was a nice dry day until around 4:30 pm when the rain started coming down, but we driving back down the Clackamas by then.
The guy I talked to last weekend (a fire guy-I'm not sure of his exact title) said they are essentially just leaving them alone, watching them to make sure they don't flame up or threaten the lookout. If neither of those things occurs, they will just let them burn. They were natural fires, started by lightning, so it is part of the natural cycle.
One weekend when I was up the South Fork, the smoke was so thick you couldn't see much at all, and you could actually smell the fire. The wind wasn't very strong that day, so I'm guessing it just kind of stagnated.
Hopefully they will burn out soon.
The Bull of the Woods fire hopefully will go out with the current several days of rain. And hopefully they will open the Wilderness and the north part of Jefferson, as well as the Olallie Highlands trails.
According to some forest service folks I talked to, Welcome Lakes basin is charcoal, as is much of Pine Cone Creek Basin. More than half the burn area saw only ground fires, with most but not all trees apparently surviving. The rest - a guesstimate at this point is a thousand acres - saw stand replacing burns of old growth. Most if not all the crown fires happened on one extreme fire day, and the rest of the time the fire has been creeping through the undergrowth and downed timber.
Bull of the Woods fire nearing the Collowash.
Lake Lenore burned over but I am not sure how severly. This section of the fire should be visible along Big Slide Mountain from Bull of the Woods.
The fire made a run two miles long along the ridge north of Schreiner Peak.
Affected trails include 556 - 554 - 557 - 555 in the high country and 554 most of the way down and 559 at lower elevations. Schreiner Peak trail burned over at both ends.
Once the area opens again if it does before snowfall Bull of the Woods will be the easiest access. It is unknown how damaged and hard/easy to follow the burned over trails will be.
The Pacific Crest Trail burned over in four spots south of Olallie. The block of land between Monon and Olallie Lakes burned.
Battle Ax on the skyline left-center and Schreiner Peak to right. Much of the area in Pine Cone and Welcome Creeks drainages to the right burned. Main valley pictured is the Collowash.
Even if the fires go out, I'm not sure they will open the areas immediately. It sounded to me like there were dangerous snags they wanted to take care of before re-opening the areas.
If the damage is as bad as it sounds, that would be too bad. I'm glad I got to go into the Welcome Lakes basin the last two years and see it before this. The maps I saw showed almost all the fires surrounding Shreiner Peak, although I don't know how accurate they are. At any rate the whole area is going to look a lot different....I guess the brushing work they did on the Welcome Lakes trails was a waste of time!
Thanks for posting the info
I forgot the good stuff - all the roads south, east and north of Bull of the Woods have been brushed out and properly graded. No more brush blocking the road or brutal washboards and potholes until more years of neglect pass.
There is money in the Forest Service budget for fighting fires but not for routine road maintenance. The prep for this fire was a good demonstration of how quickly that routine maintenance can be done. About two weeks or a little more for this area.
Basically on all the roads on the three sides were brushed down to a few inches for about forty feet on the side towards the fire, and enough to clear the road on the other side. This gave them what they considered a good start if a back burn was needed. Its now past the period of rapid fire spread so no back burns are going to happen this year.
Most of the wilderness did not burn, and they could certainly open the trails to Bull of the Woods and Pansy Basin and the Twin Lakes area, none of which saw fire. It will be interesting to watch the recovery, with the fire spread over more than a 3000 ft. elevation spread.
Thanks so much for the additional info. Do you know which roads these were? I know 6370 and 4696? were/are closed for this kind of work. That is good news that they did some road maintenance....It is so nice when you see a road that gets some maintenance, either grading (for a gravel road), or brushing (any road). They are so much easier to drive.
As far as the fires, I'm glad they let them burn, but I'm always sad to see what were once beautiful places turned to charcoal. I know it is part of the natural cycle, but it doesn't make it any easier to look at. Hopefully it isn't quite as bad as it sounds and the area will rebound in a few years.
FYI, this was posted to the USFS website today:
Following is part of the News Release for the Olallie Lake Scenic Area submitted 9/17/10:
The closure order for the Olallie Lake Scenic Area will be
rescinded effective 12:01 AM, Saturday, September 18th. All trails in
the Olallie Lake Scenic Area, except for Mon-Olallie Trail #732 and the
north side of the Monon Trail #729 will be open. The above named trails
remain closed due to the high hazard from burned snags.
The Olallie Lake Resort and developed campgrounds within the
Olallie Lake Scenic Area are closed for the season; however, dispersed
sites are open to the public; please pack out what you pack in.
All trails within the Bull of the Woods Wilderness are still closed due to fire and snag danger.
Do you know which roads these were?
I've never found an actual list but generally the first road nearest the Wilderness. On the east both 6370 and 6380 at least in parts were treated. Other roads which may have been treated include parts of 63, 6350 east from Collawash Mountain, 4696, 4697, 6340, 6341. I don't have more precise info and some roads within this perimeter may or may not have been treated. If they contributed to creating a defensible position in the face of fire then they were, if not, then nothing was done.The West side of the Wilderness was not treated at all.
Its good that the Olallie Highlands is being opened - this area was mostly untouched and some great fall hiking is still ahead. One may suspect that they are keeping people out of Bull of the Woods because if, say, someone hiked to the Lookout they could see some of the burned area and many if not most would be tempted to go have a look - into potentially dangerous burn areas. Policing a closure at Bull of the Woods and several other places is not going to happen, so they just close everything to be safe.
Recovery should be fairly quick especially at the lower elevations. The fire pioneer plants are back the first and especially the second spring. The trees of course take much longer but small new sprouts should be obvious by the second year. If lodgepole pine was in the burn area these should sprout heavily the first spring. We will get to see if fire really does encourage huckleberries.
A good indication of how this area might recover is taking a look at the Thunder Mountain burn, which is a couple of years old now. I hiked that trail right after the burn and it was pretty wiped out. I haven't been back since, but it would be interesting to see how the area has recovered thus far. Sounds like a good item to put on my to-do list.
I just hope they can get the area opened back up before the snow hits.....
More recent info from the FS website - hopefully they can get BOTW open before the snow comes:
Effective September 18, 2010
Bull of the Woods Wilderness remains closed.
There has been extensive damage to some trails
from burned out roots which had supported the trail bed and there are
many hazardous snags.
Trail #544 from Bagby Hot Springs to Elk Lake is
open, however all trails and the area east of trail #544 in the
Wilderness are closed. Several roads to the east and south of the
Wilderness remain closed.
Pacific Crest Trail: The
entire section of the trail that runs through the Mt. Jefferson
Wilderness and the Olallie Lake Scenic Area on the Mt. Hood National
Forest is open.
Camping along the trail between Jefferson Park and
the northern boundary of the Wilderness is prohibited as an area closure
remains in effect.
Crews continue to monitor the fire, which could
continue to burn through the fall. The shuttle service around the
closure area has been discontinued.
Olallie Lake Scenic Area: All
trails in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area, except for Mon-Olallie Trail
#732 and Trail #729 on the north side of Monon Lake, are open.
Trails #729 and #732 remain closed due to hazards posed by burned-out snags.
Forest Road 4220 through the Scenic Area including the section from Forest Road 46 to Breitenbush Lake Campground is open.
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