Chiwaukum Creek Fire

July 21st, 2014 in Trips, Trails, & Tours

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Thursday, July 24 we took our second trip up to Scottish Lakes. The fire crew wanted us to move the snowmobiles and the  snow cat out into a clear cut so they could put a barrier around them for further protection. Kevin, who I had met on our first trip, showed us the upgrade they had made on the sprinkler system broadening the ability of the system to protect more of the High Camp area. We hiked up Sunset Trail and could see no effects of the fire. Then we hiked out along High Road and were awed by the massive fire break that was built to protect the area. It is a dirt road 6 blades wide! Don’t panic, it will be a wonderful ski route…probably called Fireline. We hiked to the edge of the fire which was still smoldering. The area around Telemark Basin, Big Jim Lookout, and Bonnie Brae is burned. Not a beautiful site at all, but it will come back. We were so lucky to only have this area burn. Now they are building a hand line up McCue Ridge probably loosely following Upper Sunset and continuing along the top of the ridge. This is to prevent the fire from slipping over McCue Ridge into the Scottish Lakes area. The next few weeks will decide when Scottish Lakes can open for business and the hot, dry weather plays a huge roll in this. Everything the fire crews do to protect High Camp and the area around it will be rehabilitated after the fire danger has passed. A trip to Scottish Lakes in the fall will be an learning event for any guest. You can see first hand the hard work our fire fighters do!

Monday, July 21  Thom, the incident manager for our area, escorted me up to Scottish Lakes to get an idea of the impact of the Chiwaukum Creek Fire. On the way up I noticed all the trees on the McCue Ridge side of the “S” road were limbed and the vegetation was cleared. The road had been watered. A lot of work had been done clear down to the gate to keep the fire from spreading down toward the Coulter Road residential area where I live. I was so thankful. They had also cleared and limbed around my house below the gate.

As I reached the top of the S road and headed down towards the Beaver Ponds the view of the fire area opened up. There were not huge flames or billows of smoke like the picture I took on July 15th, but there were smoke plumes all along the hillside dropping down from the low point on McCue Ridge. The fire is suppressed, but definitely not out. At the Beaver Ponds is a drop sight for heavy equipment. There was lots of activity along the road, fire fighters and heavy machinery continuing to protect the area. I could see a skid road bulldozed down from the top of the ridge clear through to the “P” road.

When I reached Windy Corner the activity increased. This is a Heliport for the whole fire operation. Windy Corner itself is widened and open now. There is fire activity to the southeast where McCue Ridge drops down. Turning towards High Camp there was more clearing on Peg’s Promenade and Bonnie Brae providing access to the fire for personnel and also creating a barrier to keep fire from spreading. There were small fires all along the ski trail we call High Road. Fire has burned at Big Jim Lookout and Lovers Lookout, although the signs are still there.

High Camp is untouched by the fire! There was not even much smoke. The fire fighters have really done so much to protect our beloved Scottish Lakes Resort from the fire. There is a sprinkler system at each structure with spray that can be turned on from a pump at the creek. A reservoir was created with a tarp to run the system. The sprinklers will be used if fire flares up near High Camp and will remain in place until there is no more danger, probably until fall. The fire fighters turned on the system while I was there to show me how well it worked. It was amazing! There is a barrier bulldozed around High Camp to protect it from potential fire. Trees around camp have been limbed and brush has been removed. All downed timber has been piled up along the road above Larkspur for easy access during wood cutting (this is one of the benefits of this event). There are areas around camp that are not as beautiful as we are used to, but at least we are protected.

Weather and fire activity over the next few days will determine if we will be able to open Scottish Lakes August 1st for our regular hiking season. The Chiwaukum drainage, below Lake Chiwaukum, will probably be closed during the entire hiking season of 2014. A trip to Scottish Lakes this season will give you an opportunity to view first hand the incredible efforts a fire crew puts forth in fighting a fire. If you have any questions or concerns please email or give us a call at 509-763-3044.

I cannot say enough about the fine work the fire fighters have done to keep Scottish Lakes and the area around it protected from fire. They are truly caring supportive individuals who have our safety and well being at the forefront of their efforts.