Tears and ash fall into my lunch today
An Empress with her realm in flames, my creatures dying by the tens of thousands again
If not for my ribs and skin, my heart would surely fall of its own weight at my feet
I beseech, no, I beg of the Goddesses, please let this one be
Please let this jewel shine, please see it’s incomparable beauty persist
Please let the waters fall, please let the skies open and deliver salvation to our land
Please let tall cedars greet future visitors, strong and broad, unburnt
Please, if these things cannot be, please, please, please, let my creatures flee!
Please, PLEASE, do not make them pay for the actions of people who cannot see
During the Eagle Creek fire, thousands of acres burned, from Eagle Creek all the way West to Corbett. During the first several days of the fire, it was pretty clear that Herman Creek had escaped the initial conflagration. Then, it all changed as the wind shifted and the fires roared East, threatening Hood River and burning all the way to Mount Defiance and Starvation Ridge. Herman Creek trail took a big hit, burning several miles into the interior, and up Groton Creek and Nick Eaton.
I wrote this poem sitting in Portland, eating a burrito outside at lunch. Ashes were falling in the hazy sunshine, choked with smoke from the Gorge. I think the determination that carried me through all of 2018, working in the burn damage on Herman Creek Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, it was born that day. Ten months later, the work largely completed, the trail was open and I did laps of all the PCT to HCT and in reverse, two 26 mile trips with 5700′ e.g. in two weeks. For me, this poem truly encapsulates the hopelessness I felt back in September 2017, sitting miles away as the Gorge burned.
HCT and Nick Eaton to the right here, severely burned area.
Nick Eaton Falls before the fire