[cdt-l] Fool Creek and Ahorn fires and more

danandgailsc at aol.com danandgailsc at aol.com
Fri Jul 27 20:44:41 CDT 2007

Gutsy and I were fortunate to make it around both Fool Creek and Ahorn fires earlier this month.? Alternate routes were posted for the Fool Creek fire--On July 10 we hiked Strawberry Creek then west to Gooseberry Ranger station (covered in reflective foil material for fire protection) and Clack River trail to Switchback Pass; the next day,?Pentagon Creek to Spotted Bear Pass and beyond.? Just past Spotted Bear Pass on July 11, the very day it blew up,?we spotted heavy smoke and were concerned.? After using compass and map, we decided it was ok to push on through quickly.? We did 26 miles that day, stopping at a large campsite on the left side of the West Fork.? 

On July 12 we started out?before 6 a.m., wanting to pass by Indian Point Guard Station as soon as possible.? We were joined around?7 a.m. by another couple, Bill and Ginger, who had the same objective:? get to Benchmark as quickly as possible.? As a former forest service worker, he was very knowledgeable about the backcountry--wild fires, wild animals, accurate compass and map reading, etc., and we enjoyed their company for the next several hours as we hurried together to Benchmark.? We both had a resupply there.? 

On the way, at Indian Point guard station we met two rangers who told us about their hair-raising experience the previous day.? They were doing trail maintenance work and heard a radio report about a new fire.? They thought, "That sounds very close to us," and turned around to see the fire blowing up?no more than a?hundred yards behind and uphill from them.

Unlike the Fool Creek fire,?fire suppression for the Ahorn fire was already under way on July 12.? We saw two helicopters carrying water buckets to and from the fire, and at the Benchmark?airstrip was?the staging area for aircraft refueling and also three smoke jumper support vans.

We rented "The Wigwam" cabin and spent an enjoyable time at Benchmark Wilderness Campground, resting, showering, packing resupply stuff,?resting, eating, and resting some more.? We finally got away on the 13th around 1:30 p.m. and hiked around 12 miles to the Green Fork Guard Station.??In the registration box we saw Sly's card, signed on July 9, 4 days earlier.? We had had dinner with him and 6 or 8 others in East Glacier on July 1.? We started south through GNP the next day; the others had just completed GNP.

On July 16th at Flescher Pass, we camped with Daybreak, Hawkeye, and Sly.? Sly had sat out several days in Lincoln because of the heat.? Two days later, with?28- and a 26-mile days, Gutsy and I were in Helena.? We had two full days to relax before our flights out on July 21--I headed back to SC, and Gutsy to Fairbanks, AK, to visit our youngest son who lives there.? She'll return to SC in about a week.? While in Helena, we went to Dairy Queen and?Bert and Ernie's sidewalk restaurant with Sly, Sloetoe, Magic, and Bug.? They left town on Friday?to hike together a section of the CDT in the Wind River Range.? Patio Bench, who we had previously seen in East Glacier and?Valley of the Moon,?came into Helena on Friday.

We saw?a grizzly bear near the Blacktail Creek?headwaters, and also near there we were?frightened in the middle of the night by a large animal (deer, I think) that came sniffing and snorting very near the tent (and drying socks) more than once.? The only tracks we found in the a.m. were from a deer.

The?first installment of our section hike was?a great success!? 


>>>>Lewis and Clark National Forest fire closures
influence a large segment of the CDT through
the Bob Marshall Wilderness.? Benchmark, a
common food-drop point is also closed . . . 

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