We've never been so excited to hear the rain return.

The first downpour of autumn is usually a bittersweet moment in Portland. But this year, it brought relief to a town that'd been shrouded in smoke from wildfires raging in the Columbia River Gorge. Though the Eagle Creek Fire still wasn't fully contained as of press time, the rainfall brought hope it wouldn't spread farther. It also brought 300 firefighters home to their families.

This is a strange time to release our second edition of Hood Life, a celebration of the adventures waiting for Portlanders around that snow-capped peak looming on the horizon.

Though the mountain itself is fine—as we went to press, it had just begun snowing at Mount Hood Meadows ski lodge—the beautiful river valley that separates it from Portland has been changed in ways we don't yet understand.

After reckless teens started a fire on one of our of favorite hiking trails, we tore up our old plan for this issue and started anew. We now have stories about favorite trails affected by the fire, Gorge waterfall hikes that remain unscathed and ways you can give to those now in need. We also attempt to look forward to what the future holds for the new forests just now sprouting from the ashes—you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that it's not all bleak.

While this fire changes Portland's relationship with our beloved Gorge, there's still a lot of beauty to explore around us. So we hiked the newly rebuilt Timberline Trail, which does a rugged 40-mile loop around Hood. We also profile the "Crazy Czech" who turned a tiny warming hut into one of the state's most unique places and look at the father of some of the state's most treasured architecture, cabin maker Henry Steiner. And because the coming rain means you can no longer hit the trail in shorts and sneakers, we present our favorite Portland stores where you can get geared up .

If there's a silver living to this destructive fire, it's that it reminds Portlanders just how fragile our treasured little corner of the world can be. As soon as these fires are out, get out there and experience the beauty we have here. You can't take this place for granted.