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Last Visit: 09/18/2014 06:41AM
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BWPaddler  
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4 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 04:23PM
 
After coming out of BWCA this past weekend, I took two girls to the ranger station and Fire "information center" in Ely. Interesting tidbits we picked up:

- "grass" already found in some places 2-3" long
- wolf tracks seen in burned areas
- deer seen in burned areas
- frogs seen in burned areas
- so many jackpine seeds have burst open that they are floating on top of the water (implication=wind blowing them everywhere)
- burn is a haphazard patchwork pattern with a few intensely burned areas
- fire often stops at campsites because our human activity has impacted the earth so much and removed so much fuel, the fire simply stops (I had seen this phenomenon in the Ham Lake burn area and asked if they purposely doused campsites with water or something to save them... answer NO, it happens "naturally")
- "containment" strategies include exposives, sometimes blasting a path through the forest 1/2 mile long
- as many as 200 firefighting canoes have been in there at one time
- ash is on top of duff and is incredibly slippery, making it hard sometimes to even remain upright

We got to watch videos of both planes and helicopters picking up water and dropping it on the fire. There was a detailed map showing black lines of containment around the fire and red lines that were still "open" areas of the fire. Everyone was friendly and informative. I was very glad we had stopped in and asked. Initially I figured they would be too busy to talk fire with tourists, but that was NOT the case.


Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau
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Sierra1  
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Photo Journal Current Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 04:42PM
 
Thanks for the update. That's some very good information on how well the forest has come along already.


Watch out for that rock!!!........ Oooo.... That's going to leave a mark...
TLAC5748  
distinguished member (120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor
10/04/2011 04:54PM
 
I heard a couple of explosions - Sat. I think. Heard some planes and helicopters when the wind wasn't blowing so much. We were 5 miles away on Sucker Lake last week. So dry, it was raining pine/spruce needles everywhere with the big wind. Really surprised that they lifted the burning restrictions.
paddlefamily  
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2 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor
10/04/2011 05:24PM
 
Very interesting facts. I wouldn't have expected wildlife to return so soon. Forest clearly begins to regenerate immediately. Thanks.
kanoes  
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9 trip report(s) Photo Journal Current Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 05:25PM
 
hmmm....i was informed that some of the sites on alpine WERE protected for fire crew use.


time is a flat circle...
WhereRwe  
member (41)member
1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 05:31PM
 
I am wondering if anyone knows what EP's where effected by this fire? I am thinking about taking a trip early next spring and think it would be interesting to see this area then. Any info on what EP's where hit the hardest or lakes that where hit the hardest is appreciated.
Thanks!
realandrea  
distinguished member (284)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 05:56PM
 
So I helped save all those campsites by tearing birch bark off the live trees. Sweet! JUST KIDDING!!
fitgers1  
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3 trip report(s) Photo Journal Current Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 06:04PM
 
Interesting tidbits BWP. Thanks for that great info which should be encouraging to many.


“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson...and...“Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading".
inspector13  
distinguished member(2734)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
Photo Journal Current Donor
10/04/2011 06:23PM
 
quote WhereRwe: "I am wondering if anyone knows what EP's where effected by this fire? I am thinking about taking a trip early next spring and think it would be interesting to see this area then. Any info on what EP's where hit the hardest or lakes that where hit the hardest is appreciated.
Thanks!"



Well, it would depend on the route taken, but the most effected would typically start from EPs 30, 35, 37, 67, and 75.


There is a map linked in one of these threads.


BWPaddler  
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4 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 09:45PM
 
quote kanoes: "hmmm....i was informed that some of the sites on alpine WERE protected for fire crew use."
Suppose it could be different answers from different USFS people. Wasn't necessarily an official opinion, just what one USFS employee told me. It would make sense to preserve a working area for crew, as I also heard they try to follow the LNT policy WHILE fighting the fire - including staying at existing sites.


Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau
BWPaddler  
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4 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 09:46PM
 
When we first paddled in last week, wind was coming from the NW lightly. Then Saturday it blew HARD from the south (whitecaps 7am-bedtime and howling all night and still blowing 7am the next AM).


USFS person said they were nervous with that south wind, as they didn't want that fire to get into the blowdown area. I forgot to ask the official fire media person the same question - about how the weekend of wind had affected things.


Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau
ducks  
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1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/04/2011 10:41PM
 
We exited at Sawbill on Monday (3rd) morning and hit the Sawbill store for some souvenirs for the kiddos before heading home. We were the only ones in the store and got to talk to Bill for about half an hour. Very interesting and informative conversation about the whole thing from his point of view. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have talked to him that morning.


Pura Vida
Ho Ho  
distinguished member(2211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11 trip report(s) Photo Journal
10/05/2011 08:27AM
 
Very interesting! I didn't think of stopping in the ranger station for more info, I will have to stop by when I go into town tomorrow. I want to see the videos.


I'm really glad to hear that the burned areas are a patchwork. I was kind of thinking that, and some of the pictures I've seen suggest it's the case, but others show more intense and uniform burning.


The explanation for why campsites don't burn as readily is really interesting, and makes sense once you think about it. I'm sure they do extra precautions for sites being used by fire crews, but there are hundreds of sites in the fire area, so most of them have to "protect" themselves "naturally."


sunnybear09  
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Photo Journal Past Donor
10/05/2011 08:43AM
 
Really enjoyed the details, BWP, thanks for sharing. Fire is a fascinating phenom, and seeing up close how much actually survives makes you sure a cure is at hand.
BWPaddler  
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4 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/05/2011 09:02AM
 
Ho Ho, I thought about you as we ended up with more time in Ely than originally planned... was thinking I should have checked before I headed north to see about a meetup, but usually we land at the bunk house after midnight and don't have much time in town... next time maybe?


In any case, when you go to the ranger station, they had a sign out front saying Pagami Creek Fire Information, and the small conference room to the left of the restrooms was devoted to "information". When we stopped in, there were several people "free" to discuss anything we were interested in. Bonus! I would have liked to ask them more about how fighting a wildfire around so much water is different from where the special teams come from... the spokesperson was from southern Colorado on Monday - surely some vast differences around our lakes than his rivers/streams.


The USFS person we talked to had lost her own family home to fire in Isabella at the age of 12... so fire was pretty personal for her, yet she was excited about the new beginnings and accepted it easily as part of a natural process.


Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau
BWPaddler  
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4 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/05/2011 09:08AM
 
quote ducks: "We exited at Sawbill on Monday (3rd) morning and hit the Sawbill store for some souvenirs for the kiddos before heading home. We were the only ones in the store and got to talk to Bill for about half an hour. Very interesting and informative conversation about the whole thing from his point of view. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have talked to him that morning."
Yes, that would be some discussion. Bill has a unique experience (understatement!) based on his position there... glad he and his business are safe! Do you want to share anything you guys discussed? I'd love to hear it.


Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau
drnatus  
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1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/05/2011 10:15AM
 
so where I do sign up for the team that uses the explosives?



Never criticize someone until you walk a mile in their shoes....by then you'll be a mile away and they will be shoeless!
WhereRwe  
member (41)member
1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Gear Reviews
10/05/2011 06:15PM
 
Thanks for the information BWPaddler. I will look into the EP's you mentioned and start planning a trip for the spring.
LoneWolf  
distinguished member(1498)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/05/2011 09:15PM
 
quote BWPaddler: "burn is a haphazard patchwork pattern with a few intensely burned "


Thanks for tidbits, BWPaddler. I remember from the time I spent in Yellowstone after the big burn in '88 that it burned in what they called a "mosaic" pattern. Some areas burned then the wind and fire factors would make it jump and leave areas un-burned.


"You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack." - Alan Garner, The Hangover.
ducks  
distinguished member(2440)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/07/2011 06:36AM
 
quote BWPaddler: "quote ducks: "We exited at Sawbill on Monday (3rd) morning and hit the Sawbill store for some souvenirs for the kiddos before heading home. We were the only ones in the store and got to talk to Bill for about half an hour. Very interesting and informative conversation about the whole thing from his point of view. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have talked to him that morning."
Yes, that would be some discussion. Bill has a unique experience (understatement!) based on his position there... glad he and his business are safe! Do you want to share anything you guys discussed? I'd love to hear it."



Very unique indeed and I don't even know where to begin.


He had a lot to say. He talked a lot about how crazy that day obviously was and how it was like no other. He said that there was an 80% chance of rain that ended up missing the area and they were switching from one fire crew to another the day the fire went out of control. He also talked about how unreal that fire was and how the extreme computer fire models used by the experts didn't even come close to what this fire did. He said there is now a "new" computer model. When word got from the ground up to the planes that the south side of Insula was on fire they said that it was impossible based on the fire models and were shocked when they flew over there to check it out.


It was very interesting listening to him talk about their fire protection. Their sprinkler system is double what is recommended, the way the buildings are built, that little clearing in front of the store where they have the example of a hung pack isn't there just for looks :). They ran portable sprinkler lines through the campground so at least some trees would maybe be saved if the fire came so it wouldn't end up looking like the Iron Lake campground on the gunflint.


He also talked about how stressful things like that fire are part of the package of living there.


Pura Vida
ducks  
distinguished member(2440)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/07/2011 07:39AM
 
I should also mention that he was praising the firefighters up and down and mentioned several times how grateful he is to everyone that has worked/is working on the fire.


BWPaddler: I know you would have enjoyed this part. He talked a lot about the importance of getting kids into the bdub. We had fun sharing stories about times we've each had our own kiddos in the bwca.




Pura Vida
willys54  
Guest Paddler
10/07/2011 09:05AM
 
I wonder if the experts Bill was talking about were computer experts or experienced fire experts? Its interesting both the weather and fire computer models were wrong. You kind of wonder if its a good idea to rely on computers for such critical information.
BWPaddler  
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4 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
10/07/2011 09:23AM
 
thanks ducks... yep, I would have enjoyed the whole conversation! And I hadn't heard the double whammy info about both weather and fire predictions being wrong on "that day".


I was also told:
USFS ranger - one casualty, broken leg from a deadfall
Fire "information" leader - total of 4 minor injuries to date


Either one is amazing when you think about it.


Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau
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