The ending of my season at the Cle Elum- Roslyn Ranger District has been very educational and an incredible experience.
The Jolly Mountain Fire was started by a lightning strike on August 11th about six miles northwest of Cle Elum, WA. It was located out in the wilderness with no road access making it impossible to put out quickly. This was the beginning to my season changing. The trails my crew and I are responsible for maintaining were located out in this wilderness area where a new wildfire was starting to grow intensely and spread quickly.
Mid August, the two other MAI Cle Elum trail crew members and I headed back down to Trout Lake, WA for a week to join other members from the Public Lands Stewards program for a mid-term training. Part of this training included a group rafting trip. It was my first time going on a rafting trip and I had an amazing experience on the Klickitat River, catching up with friends I had made back in May. I really enjoyed hearing their personal experiences with the positions they were placed in, and all the locations they were able to travel to.
When my crew and I returned to a smoke covered valley where evacuation levels were put in place, we learned that the fire had grown tremendously since we had left. The wilderness in our district had been shut down due to the fire. One morning we had the opportunity to attend the morning fire briefing at the Incident Command Post camp. There, firefighters from all over the country camped out in a field, waiting for their command to assist. I was able to help on the fire by being a part of a team assigned to closing a trail at the junction of the district’s border. While hiking the trail, we were also responsible for evacuating any hikers or campers we came across. It was a rewarding feeling being able to help assist with the fire.
The fire is now in a contained state, but it is projected to continue burning until the first snow fall. As a result, our trails will be shut down for the rest of the season. I’m glad we were able to work on most of them before the fire hit, and we are now helping on motorized trails in the south section of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Even though the fire was very destructive, it was amazing to see how much everyone at work and in the community came together and tried to solve problems and offer assistance to those who were evacuated and affected.