Montana Outdoors

August 4, 2010

Thompson Peak (2)

As the access road to Thompson Peak entered the burn area, still about eight miles from the trail head, a stand of Fireweed stood beside the road to greet any visitors with the message, “It’s OK now; the recovery is already underway”. This prolific plant with its pretty purple blossoms is one of the first plants to start the renewal process after a big fire. It will flourish in profusion for many years until the new growth of trees starts to block out the sun, and even then it will bloom in the clearings. It is just now beginning its blooming season and much of the low green in the following photos are its leaves: in a week or so the understory will turn purple.

Fireweed

In this, as in any forest fire, there are islands within the burn that were spared, perhaps at a whim of the wind, or the relative shelter that a ravine provided from the fire storm and many of these can be seen in the photos. Some areas have had very little new plant growth at all. In these areas the heat was so intense it sterilized the ground. Recovery there will take much longer.

The photos that follow are scenes in the order in which I encountered them, an awkward appearing mix of devastation, of burned trees, of flowers and oases in a desert of black, and I offer them simply as glimpses of the pretty things and the ugly ones that exist inside a big burn.

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

The tall mountain in the background of the following photo is Baldy Mountain from which I was able to take many photos of the Chippy Creek Fire. If any one is interested in seeing more pictures of the fire, you may click on one of the photos and it will take you to my Flickr site where there is a set of photos called “Chippy Creek Fire”: or, on the right sidebar of my blog page there is a category “Chippy Creek Fire” and clicking on that will take you to a bunch of posts and photos that were posted when the fire was burning.)

Along trail to Thompson Peak

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