Heavy smoke and close proximity to fires did not deter Labor Day weekend visitors to the Cascade lakes.
“We were surprisingly busy. People still enjoyed the lake,” said Kate Dunn, Cultus Lake Resort owner. “The smoke tended to roll in and out. There were parts of the day it was fairly smoky and there were times it was clear as a bell. I think people still had a lot of fun up here.”
Matt Justason and his family camped for the weekend at Cultus Lake. He said the smell of smoke from the nearby Cedar Creek Fire was no more noticeable than his own campfire.
“The water is still nice and clear and cool. The beer still tastes good.”
“We went on the lake and we tubed. We went really fast. It was really fun,” said Justason’s children and cousins. “We went over some big waves. We made some forts out of wood.”
“It was pretty smoked in right when we got here Saturday afternoon,” said Jack Powell from Portland. He waited to come up until it was clear the Oregon Ducks were going to lose their season opener to Georgia.
“We were on the fence. Should we stay? Should we go to Elk Lake where it’s not as smoky? We hung around for an hour and the smoke blew out so we decided to stay.”
I found Brian Schaffer cleaning a wake boat and preparing to tow it back to his business, Central Oregon Rentals.
“We have jet skis. We have pontoon boats that were up here all weekend and nobody complained about anything. Sure, there was a little smoke off and on but for the most part nobody complained.”
The Cedar Creek Fire is eight air miles from Cultus Lake.
There is a Level 1 “Get Ready” evacuation notice in effect on the west end of Cultus Lake. All those people who boat in to the west end campgrounds have been notified.
Numerous nearby trails and forest roads that head west from Cultus Lake toward Waldo Lake, including the Irish-Taylor Road, are closed due to growth of the Cedar Creek Fire.