Porters Lake Forest Fires: 2 years later

For my latest hike (map), myself and three friends went out to the area of the huge fire that devastated large swaths of forest and forced 5000 people from their homes. This was my first time seeing the damage up close, and it really was devastating. Stretching for kilometers in all directions are bare, soot stained sticks, where there was once a forest. 
The hike took us along some back roads, well travelled by local ATVs.  We crossed streams and rivers, and were flanked by lakes most of the time.  The weather was ideal, partly sunny, cool but not cold for this time of year, and a layer of fresh snow.  The lakes were just frozen enough to look passable, but as my feet quickly found out, were not.  Anyone doing winter hiking around lakes should take the time to look up the local ice thickness report before hand.
We decided to venture off the beaten path for an hour of hardcore bush whacking.  It’s always fun to challenge yourself and test the limits of you’re new equipment.  My boots and pants passed the test, fighting off 4 or 5 soakers, and providing good traction and warmth.  I can’t stress enough the importance of good waterproof, breathable hiking boots.  Running shoes are fine for gravel pathways, but for serious hiking, you need equally serious footwear. As always, layers of clothing are key. This day I went with a long sleeve, thin, moisture wicking shirt, with a lightweight cotton/wool mix long sleeve shirt over that, and my 2 layer winter jacket on top.  My pants are fleece lined snowboarding type with elastic cuffs which fit over my mid-shin high waterproof winter boots.  With temperatures slightly below zero to start off the day I wore all layers, but when the mid-morning sunshine came out I took off my middle layer, unzipped my jacket and took off my hat and gloves to avoid overheating or working up a big sweat (something you want to avoid in winter).  It was great to be out in the fresh air and sunshine, while being very comfortable and warm.  One thing i neglected to bring was sunglasses, which would have been good to protect my eyes from snow and ice glare. 
With the fresh layer of snow, it was easy to see lots of tracks, including deer, rabbit and coyote. The snow also provided a beautiful cosmetic layer to cover a lot of the devastation from the fires.  Instead of looking like a burned out wasteland, it had taken on a surreal beauty.  In the two years since the fires, new growth has begun in abundance. This hike was great because it really contrasts the destructive power and resilience of mother nature.  New growth was already 3-4 feet high. 
After an hour of bush-whacking we came upon a small hunting camp, and decided to pay a visit.  The camp was clean, and well maintained.  A greeting note on the table laid out rules and invited visitors to stay.  It is great to see this kind of thing.  The people who wrote the note and maintain the log book have no problem with responsible people visiting their camp and in fact encourage it by providing their contact info so you can phone ahead to see if the camp will be available at a certain time.  I won’t give any info on the camp, because I like to encourage people to find their own hidden gems and respect the code of conduct. Clean up, replace anything you use, leave only useful items, and don’t advertise the location.

The hike was great, the scenery was great, but the best part of all was the renewed confidence in the resilient qualities of mother nature, as well as renewed faith in the qualities of sharing and generosity in human nature. VIDEO

2 Comment

  1. Good to see that nature is fixing that area. And thanks for the great safety and clothing reminders. Those camp owners are true caring outdoors people, and hopefully the location will only reveal itself to others who appreciate the whole experience of exploring. Great Post!

  2. Great post! Its good to see there are some people left who still have the right idea. It would do us all a lot of good to get out and explore our own 'back yards"!

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