Saturday, August 24, 2019

8/24 Eagle Lake, California, Fire (2018)

Eagle Lake is as far north and east as you can get to in California. I was here a couple of years ago and decided to come back here this year for a few days because it is so pretty here and super-quiet. 

I noticed this very large area of burned forest when I drove here three days ago, but could not get good photos.  Today, I drove back there, about 3 miles from the Merrill Campground where I am staying and got some better photos.  This place is so out-of-the-way, by the way, that I drove 10 miles and passed only one other vehicle, so often I just stopped or almost stopped in the middle of the road to take photos! 

Most of the forest here consists of Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir, intermixed with some scrubby areas with only occasional trees. Eagle Lake is very large, surrounded by wooded forests, and elevation is 5,200' so it is cool up here. It is really a beautiful place, but I will take more photos tomorrow to show you the lake and the bike path.   

This fire was referred to as the Whaleback Fire, and it burned 18,000 acres o f Lassen County and Lassen National Forest in July and August of 2018.  All four campgrounds in the south end of the lake and several small communities in the northern end of the lake were evacuated for several days.  The fire came very close to the campgrounds and the communities, but luckily the area has few homes and almost no businesses.  (Don't miss the interactive map link at the end of this posting. It shows a current fire east of this area.)

So here are some photos I took. This is the road leading west from Merrill campground.  Very nice and green with big trees. 

In the distance, you can see that this whole mountain has been burned.  Note that the trees closest are only partly burned, meaning the fire singed the lower branches and the trunk of the trees but did not burn the crown and kill the trees.

Not all of this area is dense forest.  In this photo you can see the lightly burned grassy areas.   The lake is a few hundred feet to the right in this photo.

This area was mostly scrub, with a few trees. 

Notice how the earth itself has been burned off these rocks.  This area is highly volcanic, so I don't think the soil is very thick anywhere around here.

The fire must have been hot here because these smaller trees are black and dead, all the way to their crowns.

These bigger trees will not survive either.  I noticed that they have been cutting some of the lesser damaged, but dead bigger trees and hauling them away for lumber.  These larger trees might have good lumber in the middle, but the smaller ones in the previous are toast, literally.

Not sure what these shrubs were, but all of their bark has been burned off.

I used this forest road as a turnaround.  The little sign points to a lookout about 9 miles down the road.  On the tree just in front of the sign, there is a symbol for a snowmobile trail.

Here is what a "good" forest fire remnant should look like--lower trunks of big trees burned, but crowns green and trees survived the fire.  Many of the older trees around here, by the way, have blackened trunks from old fires.
I am heading back to the campground now.  This area is on the opposite side of the highway from the lake, and you can see where someone has cut and removed some of the trees that are salvageable for lumber.  This was obviously the edge of the fire when it was put out. 

A stump that has been cut and removed from this area.  You can see that the center of the tree has unburned wood. 

A few trees have been removed from this area across the highway, but the lack of stumps shows it did not have many trees in any case. 

Another area right on the edge of the burned lands. 

The next two photos show a shrubby area on the lake side of the road where it was mostly burned.  No stumps from big trees here. 

This is a similar area, but with very little burning having taken place.  Green, unburned trees are in the distance. 

Directly across the highway is an area showing no burning, but a variety of trees and a lot of scrub growth.  

Photos of the campground in a couple of days!  In the meantime, here is a website that shows the location of Whaleback fire and current conditions: 

Merrill Campground is at the far south end of the lake, about three miles from the edge of the fire.  Temps are very pleasant here with daytime temps in the 70s and nights dropping to 49 degrees, as it did last night.  

If you click the link that says "Back to fire map," you will see a map with all fires in the U.S.  Clicking on the menu link in the upper right will allow you to select a time frame and other parameters.  If you zoom in to northeastern California, you will see a green icon showing a fast-growing fire north of Susanville and east of Eagle Lake.  Neat!!!  I did see a Cal Fire truck in a hurry today go past the campground with lights flashing.  

Thursday, August 22, 2019

8/21 Tule Lake & Lava Beds National Monument

I haven't been posting because I've been taking care of some medical things, like getting a kidney stone taken care of.  All is now well, and I am on my way to California.  I spent last night at Collier Memorial State Park north of Klamuth Falls and then headed towards Eagle Lake, which is my destination for tonight. 

However, on my way I stopped at a bird observation station along Tule Lake and also drove through Lava Beds National Monument.  

First, I was not expecting Tule Lake.  It is a long way from most touristy places and absolutely full of birds.  

You cannot see it well, but the lake is dotted with birds. 

Found this photo blind and decided to stop for a walk.  

Here are some of the dots on the lake:

These big white birds are white swans, as you can see better in the next photo closeup.

The small black birds in the foreground are American coots.  These look a lot like ducks, but have a pointed bill and different feet and are rails. 

Looking back at my motorhome. 

This blind is by reservation only!  

And this is a snowy egret.  I have seen these birds in Florida and once almost hit a whole flock of them with my motorhome.  I was driving along an empty country road and the flock decided to fly up and in front of my vehicle.  All I could see were black beaks and black legs!

Not much traffic, as you can see.  

Next was Lava Beds National Monument.  Not very busy here, also. 

A lot of lava flows--some old and some fairly recent. 

Nice visitor center.  This national monument, by the way, is in the far northeast part of California, not too far from Lassen Volcano. 

I drove through the campground, just to check it out for the future, but all the spots were much too small for my motorhome.  My destination, Eagle Lake, is about 90 miles southeast of here, so I had to keep on moving. 

This is high desert.  It is desert because it gets very little rain, and high at about 5,500', which makes the air cooler than the valleys not too far away.   

Finally, in the distance is Eagle Lake.  It is one of the very few natural (meaning not dammed up) lakes in California.  

I took several pictures of the forest fire area about three miles from my campsite at Merrill Campground, but this is the only one that turned out.  I will go out driving in a couple of days and take more.  The camp host said the fire was last year and burned 18,000 acres.  They evacuated all four federal campgrounds because of the fire.  

By the way, notice how spread apart these trees are?  This is typical of the burned area, so not all forest fires burn because there are too many trees and brush.  The area on the opposite side of the highway mostly did not get burned and also had very little undergrowth. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

8/6 A HOT time at LePage Park

Temps here have been in the 80s most of the summer, but this year and last, it seems to get hot when I come here.  Temperature was 100 degrees yesterday and got up to 103 today.  Tomorrow, it is supposed to be about 102, but cooling down to 90 on Thursday.  Yea.  A cold wave. 

First, the drive along the Columbia River is one of the prettiest around. The first three photos were taken after leaving Memmaloose State Park and as I was headed to LePage Park, west of The Dalles. In the northern side of the river is a two-lane highway, but on the south side in Oregon is Interstate 84.  Memmaloose is in the area where the coastal trees change to full grasslands. You can see below how the mix looks. 

Getting closer to LePage Park.  You can tell by the lack of trees and more grasslands.

This wind farm is across the river from LePage.  

I bought this inexpensive weather station a few years ago.  I don't use it often, but I figured this would be a good time.

This is the indoor part of my weather station.  Note that the outside temp is 102 degrees with 33% humidity and 4 MPH wind speed.  

Way down at the bottom, you can see that the indoor temperature is 89 degrees.  AC has been running all day, but it just cannot keep up with the heat.

This is one of my favorite campgrounds, for a lot of reasons.  The biggest is the gorgeous view of the John Day River.  Second, is that sites have electric and water, and third is it costs only $12.50 for seniors like me with a federal senior pass.

This is the view looking north toward the Columbia River and I-84, which runs along the north side of the river.  There is a big dam a couple of miles downriver, which makes the John Day River into a good-sized lake.  I was told today, that it is 80' deep down by the bridge and almost that deep in front of my site because this was a deep valley. 

I have the furthest south pull-through site.  It is smaller than the others in front of it, but I like that there is no one behind me.  Stayed here several times before. I can sit in my recliner and do work while watching other campers and boaters on the river.