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Two fires are burning in our watershed right now, both out of control. The Cub Creek 2 fire is burning to the north and generally away from people and homes. Hopefully everyone was evacuated from the wilderness backcountry. The Cedar Creek fire is advancing at a steady pace towards many homes. It has crept down the mountains towards highway 20 in the upper valley where it is meeting up with bulldozer lines put in to stop it. Hopefully those lines held overnight. And it has crossed Lucky Jim Bluff and now Virginia Ridge and is bearing down on neighborhoods just outside of Winthrop. Many people were put on level 3 evacuation notices overnight. Hazardous smoke fills the valley and I cannot see across to the other side.

We have not received an evacuation notice. I imagine we will be doing more firewise stuff around our house today and packing in case we decide to leave. The fire is less than ten miles from here and covering more ground everyday.

Last night there was a brief reprieve from the smoke and I saw the northern horizon for the first time in a couple of days. The fire to the right is Cub Creek and to the left is Cedar Creek. You can read about these fires on Inciweb.

The next day was also overcast so we headed for a trail along a river. It is a relatively flat trail and easy for the old dog to navigate plus there was water for all of us to cool off. And there were cedar trees, enormous cedar trees. And big leaf maples too. It clearly rains there, a lot! The long foot bridge is a giant cedar snag that conveniently fell across a creek where a trail crew turned it into a substantial bridge. And the girls may have inadvertently walked into a National Park but I quickly called them back to pose at the boundary. I thought there would be a sign saying ‘welcome to the park, no dogs allowed’ but it was just a simple marker.

Last week, the girls and I took the camper over the mountains to camp in the shadow of one of the iconic northwest volcanoes. After the massive heat dome that brought us record-breaking high temperatures recently, it was good to be someplace cooler and greener. We even had a couple of overcast days and Luna was able to do two six-mile hikes! At her age, she cannot tolerate the sun and temperatures much over 70°. She (and Sky too) had great fun in a new place smelling all the smells and exploring everything. And wouldn’t you know it, Sky discovered a much-abused tennis ball three miles up the flank of the volcano. It was just one of four balls that she found on this trip.

I noticed that this trail started off as an old road. Farther up the trail, I began to notice large old stumps, reminders of the old growth that once blanketed much of western Washington. Later I read that the area had been logged all the way to the tree line, back in the day. When I was out on my kayak, I could see the outlines of the old clear-cuts.

Since it was an overcast day, we did not get to see views of the big mountain. We did enjoy the cool temperatures and even some fog. Back at home temperatures remained in the 90’s and a lightning storm ignited several forest fires. I am glad we got away for bit.

The girls and I drove up the bumpety bump Harts Pass road yesterday and enjoyed a brief respite from the intense heat dome that has kept our afternoon and evening temperatures above 100° F. Sixty degrees at 7000′ was incredibly refreshing. On the way up, we saw mountain goats at their traditional salt lick. They are pretty shaggy looking this time of year.

We met some people walking up the road to the lookout with skis. They were planning to ski down the backside of the mountain! The snow fields are pretty small already so it was a short run.

The mountain views were incredible and the flowers were just lovely. The snow recently melted up there so the wildflower peak is yet to come.

Baby birds need to eat a lot and eat often. They have a lot of growing up to do in a short time. By fall, these tiny babies need to be able to fly away to the ocean or maybe the Columbia River where they will find water and food and safe havens. Both parents feed the little ones, diving often to search for small tidbits to feed the babies.

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