May the blessing of the rain be on you….

May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
The Celtic blessing kept ringing in my head yesterday morning as Denali and I ran the access road to Round Lake.   We were really happy to run through the rain.  It seems like such a miracle– it really is when you consider the energy and work behind all the water bombers dropping gallons and gallons of water on the Pagami Lake Fire in the other corner of the Boundary Waters.  Here we were running through the big giant perfect sprinkler system.

The fire hasn’t been growing much, if at all…

What happens next?
    High Cliffs Saturday afternoon
  1. They keep monitoring the big giant footprint down near Ely.  And the planes and helicopters look for spot fires.  On Saturday–before the rain–the fire was supposed to be more active.  It was beautiful and breezy–Rachel and I hiked to High Cliffs in search of smoke.  We couldn’t identify any. 

    Photo courtesy of Dennis Neitzke

    The aerial photo from late afternoon on Saturday shows a lot of black, but not a lot of activity (taken down by Polly Lake, if you know that area).  

  2. They have started to let the people evacuated in the Isabella area back into their homes.
  3. They’ll start opening up entry points tomorrow (Tuesday).  The entire Gunflint Trail will be open, with some restrictions.  They still do not want people paddling toward Alice Lake–It’s completely understandable why the folks in charge of public safety are so jumpy about that.  Last Monday was a mighty weird weather day. 
  4. Now will be the time for some people to try pin the blame on somebody.  Is that the natural thing to do to try to be in control?   We can all say in hindsight it was the wrong decision not to start fighting  fire on August 18th when the Pagami Creek Fire was little.  But I can’t say it was a bad decision.  I wasn’t sitting at that table, considering past fire behavior, calculating the odds, weighing policy against other factors, trying to predict the future based on a bunch of weather models.  I do know that the people at the table were qualified,  ones I’d probably still chose to make that decision again if it were up to me…….. ……..I also remember another flukey weather day 5 years ago when one guy was blamed for the Ham Lake fire.  While his campfire was his responsibility, you couldn’t imagine what the weather was like that day that fire took off.  Ironically, I’ll bet I’ve talked to 15 different people who stopped to put out unattended campfires in August–and that was just me. Was that really his fault?
  5. As we ran yesterday…..on this favorite little piece of road with a recovering forest…I was reminded about some other things that  happen next—

  • The birch seeds will get early dibs in there–traveling on the autumn winds.
  • The moose love young those birch saplings–hopefully some will enjoy them in the years to come.
  • The jack pine and spruce cones need fire to open–the cones will have scatted seeds on the rich black ground.

    Jack pine cones
  • These poplars–5 years old, over 10 feet tall
  • The poplar tree roots will have been stimulated by the fire..  They’re like wild men–sprouting after a fire like that.  Even fallen limbs that are unburned will start to sprout.
  • The raspberries
  • Berries go crazy….
  • The field–with pearly everlasting
  • Also the wildflowers–like the white pearly everlasting get some sun, and can thrive….I’m not a naturalist or a botanist..or a forester…but I think I’ve heard that there are seeds that are dormant waiting for a fire to clear the view.
  • I understand the animals like the contrast.  On this particular hill I’ve seen moose, bear, wolves, deer.  
  • Grandma White Pines
    Happy little guys
  • The more fire resistant white pines that weather the storm go on to be the seed sources for the whole area.
  • Grove of birches
  • Not everything burns in every fire–so the patches of growth may remain.
  • The old standing trees become habitat for some rare birds sometimes.  I don’t know how the black backed woodpeckers found these so quickly–but apparently the word gets out. 
  •  It’s a pleasure to watch the woods recover! 

2 Responses

  1. Debbie Hoffman says:

    Our family has vacationed on the Gunflint Trail for the past 19 years and think of the area as our second home. Thank you so much for keeping us informed about the current fire and reminding us of the positive aspects of fires in the wilderness.


    Debra and Richard Hoffman

  2. Jerry says:

    Thank you for that little bit of forest recovery education. Makes me a little less sad about the Pagami fire.