So, here we are are, back “Home.” Home, surrounded by some of the most gorgeous scenic beauty in the USA. Home, where Sparky and I know first hand how fragile is the bond between nature, weather and humans. Home, where lovely little Swan Lake, one of this areas not so secret treasures was almost obliterated by one of the most ferocious and huge wildfires in Washington State history. If we live back of the beyond, ( and we do!), then Swan Lake is in back of the back of the beyond. A jewel in the crown of Ferry County, Washington, it features camping areas, swimming, fishing and hiking trails.
A haven for wildlife, we have seen Cougar, Black Bear, Bald Eagles, Loons and much more. On our way to the Lake last Sunday, we saw 4 Bald Eagles.
Yep, that splotch with wings is a Bald Eagle.
Going down the narrow winding road on the way home, we saw saw this Black Bear. He was just sitting by the side of the road doing what bears do util we appeared and he decided to disappear.
Humans and animals seemed to co-exist well until last summer.Last summer, Eastern Washington faced a duel threat from the North Star and Tunk Block wildfires. These fires combined burned 382,000 acres of land. That’s about 590 square miles. The air over this area was gray with smoke. Visibility was poor. Smoke stung and burned eyes and lungs over much of this side of the state. Our little town came within 1 mile of being lost to this fire. But the people kept asking, “How is Swan Lake?” Did the campground burn? Is the picnic area OK? How about the hiking trails? It is indeed an area treasured by the folks here.
The fire came over the ridge on the far side of Swan Lake and burned its way down the hillside to the lake.
Acres and acres and mile after mile of land was burned to a crisp. Millions of trees were lost in this fire.
The scars are vivid.
But no, the Swan Lake Campground did not burn. Fire breaks were constructed. Back burning was done and thanks to the masses of dedicated Fire Fighters, Swan Lake was spared. It will take 2 generations for new tree growth to equal what was destroyed and the landscape will never be exactly the same. Different. Maybe better. Maybe not.
But already there are signs of the healing powers of nature. Unburned trees stand a green beacons. A Loon family contentedly swimming.
It’s a rare treat to see the loon chicks.
Lily pads flourish and call to mind the paintings of the Impressionists
A Robin resting in the crook of this tree trunk.
Kayak quietly waiting its owners return.
Two families of Canada Geese teaching their Goslings the ways of their lives.
Such a peaceful, private, remote retreat.
The narrow winding road to and from Swan Lake.
Through some awesome scenery. The rock formations are massive.
All of this. ALL OF THIS, was nearly annihilated because of human stupidity. Yes, that’s right. The North Star fire was caused by human “error.” 590 square miles. 383,000 acres. Hundreds if not thousands of animals both wild and livestock, perished. Homes destroyed and the livelihood of many, many people was taken away.
Swan Lake survived and Mother Nature being herself, will move forward and heal the land. Timber will be salvaged. Morel Mushrooms thrived and Huckleberries will be plentiful this year, but what a price to pay. No one here wants to go through this again, ever. Sparky and I will canoe, fish, swim and hike here this year and we are grateful to all who risked their lives fighting these fires caused by human “error.”
My heartfelt “Thanks” for stopping by today! I will be sharing so much more of the beauty surrounding our home here in Ferry County, Washington. An area of unmatched beauty and the place we call “Home.”
Hugs and much love from me,
Sarah Wilson says
Wonderful review of our “gem” of Ferry County. Thank, Karen
Karen Giebel says
Thank you Sarah. I appreciate your commenting!
Sharon Paz says
Beautiful photos Karen. Thanks for sharing.
Karen Giebel says
It’s a small but vital part of our world here!
Tina Matney says
Thank you for sharing this. You captured the area and the beginning of the healing process perfectly. I’m so happy to see the loons back and carrying on with life, I worried over them so much last summer. I helped band a few years back on Swan and will hopefully do so again this summer. Our local pair on Pierre has two little ones this year as well. So far seems to be a good year for the loon population!
Karen Giebel says
Thanks so much for your comments. It is such a beautiful place and if are banding loons this summer, I sure would love to help. They are favorites of mine.