Wilderness Ranger Mackenzie Baxter reports in:
This last week has continued our break from the crosscut, for the most part. We did get out on Monday of last week to clear the bottom portion of the Little Badger trail, and believe it or not, I think I actually missed the “misery whip”! It felt good to be back at it, if only for a day. However, Jimmy and I both noticed that we weren’t used to hiking nearly 8 miles in a day anymore and felt pretty tired after we got back to the truck. After a good night’s sleep we were back at it, though, and headed to Badger Lake, a relatively popular recreation spot in the Mt. Hood National Forest, to do a wilderness solitude survey. Many people associate wilderness with places that are untouched and completely natural, and where the only noises to be heard are the peaceful sounds of the flora and fauna, so these wilderness surveys serve as a way for the Forest Service to monitor the reality of the wilderness areas as places to find solitude.
One of the more significant things happening in the area is the Government Flats complex fire that is in the Ranger District. Last week the fire raged through some steep terrain and burned several structures, threatening more. This fire had over 1,000 firefighters working on it to save a municipal water treatment facility, many homes, and the scenic resources of the area.
While this was happening, Jimmy and I spent some time working on a presentation that we will be making to some folks in the Forest Service and other agencies to talk about what we’ve been doing this summer. The number of trees we’ve cut, the hours we’ve worked, and the miles we’ve built are all statistics that we’ll be working in to the presentation. It’s coming along nicely, but there’s always more we can do to make it perfect. Jimmy has a new idea every morning, I think- and they’re usually pretty good.
This weekend on my time off I went out on a rafting trip on the Deschutes River with some friends. Typically the climate in Eastern Oregon during the summer is hot and dry, and then more hot and dry. This can last through September, when cooler temperatures rain will move in to the whole state (although in highly varied amounts). However, in a major weather freak-out, this Sunday there were thunderstorms, complete with lightning, big thunder claps, high winds, and cool temperatures out on the Deschutes River. We couldn’t believe our (bad) luck, and pulled the plug halfway through when we stopped for lunch. Though the rain was a good thing for the fire, a rain check for rafting is definitely in order!
Until next time . . .