▶️ Eating smoke while beating the heat at the Cascade lakes


The heat is on and people are flocking to pools, rivers and lakes to cool off.

As temperatures approach triple digits, many people are seeking relief in the higher elevations.

But smoke from the Bedrock and Lookout fires has moved into the Cascade lakes area, taking some of the fun out of a day on the water.

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Elk Lake is a favorite destination to escape the heat.

The water is clean and, by this time of year, comfortable for extended soaking.

I found Peter Corvi from Portland paddling lazily in a float tube near Elk Lake Resort.

“The water is perfect. Perfect.”

Corvi said he’d float for a couple of hours.

Normally there’s great views of Mount Bachelor from Elk Lake, but with smoke pouring into the high lakes basin from fires on the Willamette National Forest, the views are non existent.

Every breath smells like a campfire.

“We are going to stay less time today. There’s no way we are going to stand in the smoke for four or five hours,” said Jamie Hemstead, Bend. “We’ll probably stay a couple of hours, cool off one more time and go home.”

Thick smoke can reduce air temperature by blocking the sun, but it can also trap warm air near the ground.

When I visited, the air temperature at Elk Lake within five degrees of downtown Bend.

“You put your chair in at the edge of the lake and your feet are in the water and that just keeps you cool,” said Stephanie Hemstead, Bend.

I spoke to one sailboat owner who said he wouldn’t sail in the reduced visibility caused by the smoke.

But for most everyone else, including Wiggles the Pug, the water is just fine.

The heat wave and reduced air quality are forecast to continue through Thursday, forcing people find ways to keep cool.

“Movies are good. We hit the movies yesterday. Lake today. We are on vacation so we don’t know what we’ll be doing tomorrow.”


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