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  • Erin S.

Will our vacations look different in the future?

The Eagle Creek Trail, located in Oregon, is one of the most well-known and beautiful hikes on the West Coast of the United States. After it had been closed for years following natural disasters, it finally reopened on July 1, 2021 and I was excited to go. I had seen many articles about walking under waterfalls with gorgeous scenery. We decided to check out the trail and hike twelve miles to and from Tunnel Falls.

Being from Palo Alto, we decided to drive 16 hours to get to Oregon in order to hike the trail. As we did, we passed through the Mount Shasta area. Instead of seeing luscious greenery and healthy plants, we saw completely burnt and smoldering trees alongside some burning areas and smoke. Due to climate change, heatwaves and droughts sparked fires along the area, even on the mountain itself. It was a pitiful sight but, based on the weather forecast, it was obvious that the world is changing right before our eyes.

While we were in Oregon, it was over 100 degrees each day, unusually warm for the Pacific Northwest. And after reading several recent articles about heat waves and climate change, I realized this was more serious than we could imagine.

What was most alarming was that we did not see any planes or trucks working to eliminate the fires. This is because of something called the Strategic Fire Plan, in which firefighters will categorize which fires need to be handled first. Residential areas are top priority, with national parks being lower-tier. The fire on Mount Shasta and the surrounding tree-filled area were not being contained simply because it was lower-tier. Since wildfires can be potentially hazardous when not contained, it was devastating to see the mountain smothering due to heat and fires.

Mt. Shasta this Summer
Mt. Shasta Normally

But the heat affected more than just the mountain, it affected other parts of nature and frankly, me too. Hiking the eagle creek trail felt brutally hot but it was well worth the effort. The trail was beautiful and much more unique than I originally expected.

I had heard of people walking under the waterfalls and enjoying the cool breeze. However, I was disappointed to discover that we had not had those same experiences. I was truly expecting to be drenching wet due to the large amounts of water coming out of the waterfalls. Because of the heatwaves, the area was a lot drier and warmer than we had anticipated. Though an impressive site, my eyes were truly opened to the resounding effects climate change already has on the earth.

We seldom realize how much our climate is already changing and how much it will continue to change in the future. By taking simple steps to reduce our carbon footprint, we can heavily change the course of climate change. Ten years from now, who knows if this greenery and mountain will even be here? Let’s all do our part to make a change!

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