A few observations for those curious

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 11:13:51 08/23/13

In Reply to: Yellowstone fires daily updates posted by Granite Head

Granite Head,

Thanks for the link. I'm glad to see the Alum Fire map accessible.

Now, for those who have traveled the trails or trail-less places where this fire is burning, the good news is that, based on the map, Glen Africa Basin and a number of other places we worry about appear to have dodged the fire bullet so far. OK, the old bear trap near Trout Creek might be a bit worse for wear, but that is about it. I had feared the fire would get into the high grass along the south end of the valley and generate a "prairie fire", driven by stiff winds. Maybe there is still adequate moisture in those grasses along the old road to inhibit burning.

If you check out the Alum Fire map, take a look at the footprint of former fires. The recent hit parade is represented, e.g. the Arnica Fire, Beach Fire, LeHardy Fire, and Sulphur Fire. Whoa, did you notice the Lake Hotel Fire from 1889? Those of you who have done the through hike on the Howard Eaton trail between Fishing Bridge and Canyon, did you ever notice that old burn? How about those who joined the search for Ochre Spring? I do know that on one of my solo hikes targeted on an area beyond where Jake, Leslie, and I had explored, I did follow a VERY old road for a fair distance. I figured it was likely used for wood cutting back in the late 1800s. I still don't recall seeing evidence of an old burn.

If I have a point in this rambling observation, it is this: If you wander certain places on the Lower West Side (off-trail on either side of the road between Old Faithful and Madison Junction), you will come across evidence of old fires from the same era. The key difference between the two geographic zones is moisture. Just north of Fishing Bridge, they get a lot of moisture, and the moisture that shows up in winter tends to sit around longer into the spring, and sometimes, early summer. The Lower West Side gets a fair amount of moisture, but not as much, and it doesn't stick around as long in the spring. Factors in this phenomenon include the difference in altitude, over a thousand feet higher on the east side; and amount of shade. The trees just north of Fishing Bridge tend to be taller and wider than the ones on the west side. There is decidedly more ground cover and shrubby undergrowth in the east side forest. It is impressive to see just how well this fire-adapted forest regenerates, even in this relatively high altitude, with its short growing season!


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