Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Forest Fires and Smoke Envelope Montana’s Flathead Valley

Smoke-filled skies create beautiful sunsets

Smoke-filled skies create beautiful sunsets

©Bert Gildart: Huge billows of smoke were funneling from various mountain ranges last night as I returned from a bicycle ride. Though the skies were generally clear at the time, as dusk fell the high pressure system moving in began to hold the smoke in Montana’s Flathead Valley. The result was an atmosphere full of smoke, and about the only good thing that might be said is that it was creating some of the most incredible sunsets Janie and I have seen in a long time.

The smoke resulted from the six separate forest fires blazing last night throughout the Northwest. This morning, two more were reported, now bringing the total to eight. One, the Skyland Fire, is burning close to Glacier National Park and is causing residents just outside the park to evacuate their homes. Currently the cost to fight these various conflagrations now running over about 63,000 acres is approaching the $10M figure.

Forest fires, of course, are nothing new to the Flathead and Janie and I have reported on them in our book Explore! Glacier and Montana’s Flathead Valley. On a small scale, fires exert much good, creating new browse for deer and elk and generally burning off much of the fuel that tends to build up over time. Current fires, however, are partially the result of the unparalleled hot and dry summers we’ve been experiencing in the valley this past decade. With many days well over 100 degrees in July, this summer may yet break all previous records.

If the past provides any clue to what may be in store, we can turn to the summer of 2002 with its historic forest fires. At the time, smoke was so thick Glacier Park Naturalist Doug Follett joked with visitors who asked how to find Lake McDonald. “Go 100 yards north,” he’d typically respond, “and when you get your feet wet, you’ll know you’ve found the lake.”

With August, typically the Valley’s hottest month, just starting, one can only wonder if Follett’s advice may soon again be relevant.

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