Sunday, September 30, 2007

Teton in fall glory, West Fork scorched

The firefighters saved the West Fork Cabin

Amazing!  The fire was just a week ago and there's already new growth amid the rubble

What used to be a trail sign

The remains of the West Fork campground

Looking down into the burned West Fork/North Fork country
I had my first look Sunday at the results of the summer fires in the Rocky Mountain Front.
From what I could tell from the Forest Service maps, the damage to Front trails was minimal, mostly confined to the Badger-Two Medicine south of Marias Pass, and to a lesser extent, the West Teton area.
I checked out what the Fool Creek fire had done to the area around Teton Pass Ski Area and the West Fork of the Teton.
Here’s a quick summary:
--- Mount Wright’s trail system burned. Not to worry, much of the mountain is above timberline and will still be fun to climb.
--- The North Fork Teton limestone canyon completely burned through from the main road to the West Fork. Looks pretty grim. I hope it greens up quickly.
--- The East Fork Teton trail to the pass behind Mount Werner at the head of Blackleaf Canyon burned completely.
--- The Teton Pass Ski area was miraculously saved, although I could see burn on its north flank and above the ski area.
--- I couldn’t tell what burned in the upper Waldron Creek drainage.
--- I found green grass sprouting on the side of the road down into the West Fork.
--- The West Fork campground is toast.
--- The summer homes called the “Massey Tract” survived, but nothing around them.
--- The West Fork cabin was saved, as well as the outbuildings. Everything around it burned.
--- While I couldn’t see much mosaic burning at Mount Wright, I saw some evidence up the North Fork trail of mosaic, as well as up the West Fork trail.
--- The trails in the area are barren, but hikeable. It will be interesting to see how quickly they come back. I’ll probably ski into the West Fork this winter to have a look around.
Much of what I saw Sunday was mitigated by the gorgeous fall color.
I nailed the right day to see the color.
What didn't burn was in full color
It was brilliant. I caught the cottonwoods on the Teton bottoms at their height. The aspen were at their zenith, too. Many of them gave off a red-yellow hue.
Of course I was saddened to see that much of my “stomping ground” in the West Fork had burned, but I was consoled that soon there will be much more open, green country that will teem with wildlife and new plants.
Fire burned to where Waldron Creek spills into the North Fork, but crisped the hillsides

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