Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wildfire Season Gets an Early Start


And every summer we somehow manage to be much too close.


Yesterday we were trying to decide on a bike ride or a hike. After pondering which would be more crowded on a Saturday, we opted for a hike at Tumalo Falls, about 10 miles west of Bend. It turned out to be an excellent choice.


The main falls were impressive enough, but if you continue upstream along Tumalo Creek, the North Fork trail passes at least a half dozen other waterfalls, and although none are as tall as the 90+ feet Tumalo Falls, they were all impressive in their own way.








After a little over 3 miles of the moderate uphill climb with rushing water either heard or seen for the entire hike, we came to an impasse. Way too much snow for us to be comfortable walking in.


It sort of took us by surprise, but we were almost at 6,000’ so it shouldn’t have been unexpected.


This was one of the prettiest trails for waterfalls we’ve ever been on, and not too difficult, either. We didn’t quite make it the 4 miles to Happy Valley but everyone we passed on our way down asked if we got there. Apparently the valley is full of wildflowers in the summer, but I think we were a month or so too early even if we would have pushed on through the snow.

We could see odd clouds and possible smoke as we were coming back down, and there was a sheriff’s car in the parking lot. He was telling people the trail was now closed due to the nearby forest fire. It just started yesterday afternoon, two small fires that merged. Cause yet to be determined, but since the weather has been beautiful it sure wasn’t from lightning, so most likely it was due to human carelessness.



We caught this on the way home. Getting a bit too close to some really nice neighborhoods.


What was burning a couple hundred acres yesterday has now grown to over 6,000. The fire is just 10 miles northwest of Bend, so hundreds of homes are being evacuated. Not a good way to start the summer.

Jim took the Subaru to the dealer Friday to get the brake fluid changed and to diagnose a problem with the power windows (not covered by the extended warranty, of course). Today he changed the oil and replaced air filters on both the Lazy Daze and the car. Always nice to get those things out of the way for awhile.

We didn’t make it to a brewery yesterday, so this evening we are meeting Gary and Leslie downtown at Deschutes. Too many breweries, too little time.

And can anyone identify this bird? They have a nest inside a hole of a tree next to us. In the left photo you can barely see the parent feeding one of the babies. I gave up looking for it in my bird book and online. A blue-gray gnatcatcher is the closest thing I could find but it doesn’t look exactly like the pictures. They are very cute and noisy, and probably no more than 4”.

Bend, OR Marial's pasture


  1. Hope they get that fire under control soon - so sad to see that. The first thing that came to mind on your bird was a mountain bluebird but I think they are bigger than 4" so maybe not. It's pretty anyway!!

  2. New Mexico has already had a couple of wild fires jump start the season. Ratzzz

  3. I always enjoy reading your blog. Every day is an adventure. Even the not-so-good things, like health issues, get a positive spin.
    Enjoy your travels.

  4. Jim and Gayle-- Pygmy nuthatch, I think. Glad that things are going well and thanks for the blog.


    1. Yes, that is definitely a pygmy nuthatch. I should have not wasted so much time trying to figure it out and just asked all you smart readers! Thanks,

  5. Maybe it's a pygmy nuthatch.

    What a bummer about the fires. Also the snow! At least you got to check out a good chunk of Tumalo trails.

  6. I think it's a pygmy nuthatch. We've been watching the fire too. We went up Pilot Butte yesterday to watch it, along with everyone else in Bend. You're much closer I think. Stay safe.

  7. Wow what a fabulous hike even if you didn't get to the top. Not being from the west, I'm always amazed at snow on a trail in June. I thought your bird looked a little bit like a nuthatch of some sort but that's pretty small. Great pictures. I'm really sad to think about all that lost forest due to some human carelessness. I always think of folks who come to the forest to hike or camp as people who would love and protect it but obviously I'm being way too optimistic.

  8. I love spring hiking in the mountains because the crowds are down and the water is really flowing but that darn snow does cramp a lot of fun. You'd think the park service could get out there with a few hair dryers and get the melt going...haha!!

    Seeing that smoke from the fire is so sad. I'm afraid it is going to be a very long fire season with all the dry conditions. Be safe out there!

  9. I can't believe we haven't hiked to Tumalo Falls, I put it on the list especially since we travel north toward Bend fairly often. The smoke from that fire woke me yesterday morning with orange sun, brown skies and that scary smell. Living in the forest here in Rocky Point it is always scary to smell smoke. Was surprised that that smoke plume made it south 120 miles or so that quickly. Stay safe.

    1. You should definitely check out Tumalo Falls when the nearby forest is not on fire. Beautiful trail. Can't believe the smoke traveled so far already. We are trying to figure out a place to bike or hike today where we won't get smoked out.

  10. Those are gorgeous falls. I love watching rushing water. It is like watching a fire or waves on the ocean. It just hypnotizes me.

    Be careful with that fire. If they ask you to leave, please do. Some people don't listen and end up regretting it.

  11. It was great visiting with you yesterday. We're glad we went to Tumalo Falls before the fire started. Great pics along the hike. The smoke is still going toward Bend. The air is pretty clear here in the Sisters area.

  12. Just learned that some of our high school friends moved to Bend a few years back and have room for us to moochdock next year - thanks for all the good info on the area! Love the falls, and with that much snow still melting they should be pretty for a while this summer. Sure hope they get the fires under control.

  13. I'm glad you got to the Falls. I have been watching the fire on the news, and thinking of you being there.