I’m here visiting my mum, who lives in Canada, so I don’t get to see her often. After coming so far I figured I should see more of this part of the world. So we drove to Montana. Now this was my idea and I’m glad i’m here, but coming the UK its hard to realise distance – or what a two day drive is!
North America offers a sense of scale combined with natural beauty I haven’t experienced elsewhere. This is a shot taken outside Glacier National Park, (we passed skeletons of trees ravaged by a fire from a huge wildfire in 2003 on the way in). I took a long time composing this, and nature did a lot of the work. But its hard to represent the sense of scale. For example, the trees over the lake are at least 35 feet high.
We are mostly made aware of such places when they are plagued by natural disasters; such as the Colorado wildfires (inc. Rocky Mountain National Park) or storms in Oklahoma and now the Mid Atlantic Coast, these are often measured in tragic human cost – lives, lost or changed forever. Glacier had it’s own wildfires in 2003, as the national parks website explains it was “one of the hottest recorded years in Glacier National Park’s history? That year, approximately 144,000 acres burned from multiple wildfires.”
The webpage goes on:
“Fire is a major ingredient in the ecology of the Northern Rockies just like the snow, the wind, the rain, and other natural forces. Wildland fire is an essential component of this ecosystem and native plants and animals are well adapted to it.”
I have mixed feeling about this – it does seem that the cost to people is very high, but the news reduces the importance of this in the sensational and generic way it reports statistics for this type of event. Also, while I agree that these fires are a natural force and part of the ecosystem in forested national parks, I think they’re understating the impact of this event.
Shortly before taking this picture I locked the keys in the trunk of a car (this is going somewhere). We were in the middle of nowhere, and almost instantly a lady (thanks Josie) stopped for us and drove us to town, made sure we had a locksmith – who showed up within 5 minutes, drove us to the car and unlocked it within 10 minutes; charging us only $35. I couldn’t get over the friendliness and the way people wanted to help.
They both mentioned the fire, while the locksmith, John, drove us back to our car a coyote crossed the road ahead of us. I was amazed and asked about the wildlife, he said most of it has gone and hasn’t come back since the fire. When he said that I felt I had caught a glimpse of how the the fire affects the local people and the environment.
Here’s a picture around the corner from the image abovet, where some of the fire had occurred, bear in mind this happened 10 years ago:
Since writing this we passed a monument in Idaho. It was erected to mark the “Big Blow Up” of 1910, where 3,000,000 acres of forest burned in a forest fire that raged across Idaho, Washington and Montana. The smoke was said to have darkened skies as far away as London.