[pct-l] PCT Fire Closure Washington

Andrea Dinsmore andrea at dinsmoreshikerhaven.com
Tue Aug 11 17:40:45 CDT 2015


*Washington PCT closure *

*Top crew will fight Chelan-area wildfire to open Pacific Crest Trail *

*Originally published August 11, 2015 at 1:05 pm Updated August 11, 2015 at
1:39 pm *

*With more than 800 hikers still headed north on the Pacific Crest Trail,
unusual steps will be taken to try and reopen a section of the trail that
has been closed by a wildfire for almost three weeks.*

*By Michelle McNiel <file:///C:/author/cap-michelle-mcniel/> *

*The Wenatchee World, Wash. (TNS) *

*STEHEKIN — With more than 800 hikers still headed north on the Pacific
Crest Trail, unusual steps will be taken to try and reopen a Washington
section of the long-distance trail that has been closed by a wildfire for
almost three weeks.*

*One of the top firefighting crews in the country will be flown into the
Blankenship Fire <http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4407/>in northern Chelan
County, west of the head of Lake Chelan, to try and corral the blaze along
the popular hiking trail which goes through California, Oregon and
Washington from the borders with Mexico and Canada.*

*Wildland fire agencies typically don’t put firefighters into such
inaccessible and rugged areas to fight fires that aren’t an imminent public

* “There’s a lot of interest in reopening the PCT,” said fire spokesman
Wayne Patterson. “It’s a very popular recreation area.”*

*The fire is burning on either side of the trail as it follows Agnes Creek
near Mount Blankenship, about 13 miles from the head of Lake Chelan.*

*The trail has been closed to hikers since July 23.*

*A detour hiking route that bypasses Holden Village was closed late last
month after another fire, the much larger Wolverine Fire
<http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4354/>, began moving that direction.*

*Now northbound PCT hikers must either walk more than 100 miles of highway
to get around the closure or try and hitch rides from sympathetic drivers.*

*The closure is an inconvenience for hikers who have already covered 2,450
miles of the 2,655-mile trail.*

*“Is it disappointing? Of course,” said Jack Haskel, trail information
specialist for the Pacific Crest Trail Association <http://www.pcta.org/>.
“Everyone wants to hike a pristine wilderness trail. No one wants to do a
long highway walk.” *

*The good news is that the bulk of the northbound PCT hikers have still not
reached the closure area. An estimated 150 hikers have already gone through
but more than 800 hikers are thought to still be coming up the trail, which
runs from Mexico to the Canadian border.*

*Many have already experienced trail closures and detours from fires in
California. But none of the detours have come close to approaching the
100-mile one around the Blankenship Fire, Haskel said.*

*“I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “I would just skip it and come back another

*Some of this year’s hikers have done just that, said Andrea Dinsmore, a
“trail angel” who lives just west of Stevens Pass and helps PCT hikers all

*But for many others, the detour is better than quitting, she said, adding,
“after coming this far, one way or another they are going to get this

*Haskel said he is holding out hope the the Blankenship fire will be
contained and the trail reopened before most of the hikers get there.*

*On Monday, members of a Hot Shot crew flew over the fire to assess their
options. They identified a helicopter landing spot near the fire, and fire
officials made the decision to fly a crew in. Which crew and when they will
go had not been determined by Monday afternoon.*

*“We want to put our super high-quality folks in there, folks who have the
most experience,” Patterson said.*

*Patterson said firefighters may work on containment lines or they may
install a water pump system in Agnes Creek that would spray water on the
fire along the trail in that area.*

*Whatever course they take, fire officials will not jeopardize
firefighters’ or hikers’ lives to open the trail, Patterson said.*

*If not for the trail, fire officials wouldn’t be taking any direct action
on the fire. They would continue to monitor the fire by air and take steps
if it moves toward community.*

*“This is not a fire we would put folks on if not for the PCT,” he said.*

*Haskel said the Pacific Crest Trail Association respects whatever decision
fire officials make regarding the trail closure.*

*“They have to weigh all these complicated management issues — wilderness
values, recreational use of public land, the value of letting fires burn,
the safety of firefighters, the cost of firefighting,” he said. “They are
the best in the world at what they are doing. And whatever decision they
make is the right one.”*

More information about the Pct-L mailing list