It’s getting to be that nice time of year, when temperatures and crowds begin to abate, says Deschutes National Forest Trails Specialist Chris Sabo.
“This is getting to be really, I think, some of the finest trail time of the year," he said Wednesday. “It’s a really nice time to get out and partake.
“Use is dropping off, especially weekdays, and most of the maintenance, the trail clearing that we’re going to get to has been done. There’s still some going on here and there, but ... probably 80 to 90 percent of what we’re going to get cleared this year is done."
Sabo had more good news, noting that pesky mosquitoes are no match for the cooler nights on the forest. However, dry conditions persist, keeping fire risk high.
“(Among) backcountry users, we are finding illegal campfires — this is when we do see a little increase in it ... because of the chillier nights," he said, noting that campfires are not permitted in the Moraine, Green and Mirror lakes areas.
“This is a really critical time. It’s really dry out here right now," he said. “We are asking people to be very careful with fires that are legal, and don’t have them in those non-legal areas.
“People have a tendency to leave them burning unextinguished. If they leave camp for a while or leave completely, they leave the fire behind thinking it’s out," Sabo said.
Recently at Waldo Lake, Sabo and some friends helped extinguish just such a campfire.
Though it may have appeared to be out to its makers, the fire’s embers were still burning hot and required 8 to 10 gallons of water to be fully extinguished.
“It had so much residual heat and coals in it," he said. “It didn’t have flames, but it had a lot of heat yet in it. So people need to be real careful with fires this time of year. We’re not out of the woods yet."
Sabo suggests that those seeking updates on forest fires and trail closures visit www.inciweb.org before heading out into the wilderness.
He also reminds trail users who like to venture out with their canine companions that leash restrictions for Deschutes River Trail and Three Sisters Wilderness Area’s Green Lakes, Moraine Lakes, South Sister, Soda Creek, Todd Lake and Crater Ditch trails remain in effect until Sept. 15.
After that date, “We still ask folks to maintain either verbal or physical control of their animal at all times," he said.