Monday, August 3, 2015

A Scene Forever Changed

The image to the left of St. Mary's Lake in Glacier National Park, taken shortly before sunrise from the Wild Goose Island overlook, was taken in 2010 (has it really been that long?).  I remember waking up 3 hours before sunrise at my camp at Avalanche Creek and driving the Going-to-the-Sun road over Logan Pass to beat the photographers camping near St. Mary Lake.  While I always won this race, I never needed to.  There was always plenty of room for everyone, and each morning was fun filled with joking and wild stories.  Photographers can be such a great group of people.

Will it be worth the drive and dedication in the future?  Will the landscape be forever changed?  This we will have to wait and see.  This entire area is currently closed due to a devastating wild fire, which will likely reshape this landscape into something much different when all is said and done.

The Reynolds Creek Fire was first reported on July 21st, 2015.  As of this writing, it has already burned over 3,558 acres in the park.  Over 515 personnel, 12 engines, and 7 helicopters are currently fighting this blaze, which is listed as 65% contained.  It is believed to be human caused, though InciWeb still officially lists the cause as "under investigation".

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed on the east side from the St. Mary Campground to Logan Pass.  And with the fire burning in close proximity to the road, this isn't expected to change anytime soon.  Already charred areas are reigniting due to low humidity and high winds.  Fire and smoke are expected to be visible up the Rose Creek drainage until the first snow of winter arrives.

I'm sure photographers, hikers, backpackers and outdoors enthusiasts in general are crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, especially those who have not yet had a chance to visit this beautiful and iconic place of the park.

I've spent a LOT of time in Glacier National Park hiking, backpacking, climbing and photographing.  I list the park as one of my favorites, and cherish the memories I've been fortunate to create there over the years. 

It's been a crazy year all over the west with wild fires.  There are several large ones currently in my home state of Washington.  California and Oregon are also experiencing tinderbox conditions.  Unfortunately the forecast is for conditions to worsen before they get better.

While wild fires are an important part of our ecosystem and many of us have learned to accept them as "change", it is always tough to see the aftermath - especially when it takes place in such a popular and scenic area of a national park.

My thoughts are with those battling this blaze, for their safety and well-being.  Stay safe.

I would like to credit InciWeb for the information and statistics reported above.  I recommend them as an excellent source to follow updates on wildfires.

If you haven't been so fortunate as to visit this beautiful park, or simply wish to take a stroll down memory lane, please feel free to visit my Glacier National Park Gallery.

Hope to see you on the trail in much safer conditions.