Wolverine Fire – A Ringside Seat
by Brad Brisbine
Jill & I came extremely close to pulling the plug Saturday on our Stehekin vacation. When we came over Navarre Coulee pass, we couldn’t even see the lake, the smoke was so thick. The usual hustle and bustle of Fields Point Landing where we board the Lady Express to Stehekin looked like a ghost town. In just minutes we had ash littering our suitcases in the back of the pickup. I wanted some reassurance that we weren’t making a mistake going up-lake closer to the fire. Linda at Fields Point was able to contact Nick Davis working in Stehekin, who gave the green light. It doesn’t take much of the prevailing down-lake breeze to scour the Stehekin valley clear of smoke, although unfortunately sending it down-lake to Chelan.
We had a ring side seat for the next four nights, watching this firestorm consume timber on its course toward the quaint 150 year old Stehekin community. Indians used Stehekin as their “way through” to the hunting and trading opportunities on the western side of the mountain range.
From our lodging at Silver Bay, where the Stehekin River enters Lake Chelan.
Domke Mountain beyond Lucerne at left. We heard the ranger say that Sid, who for many years had maintained the small cabin rental business on Domke Lake, had spent Friday night on his boat in the middle of the lake, watching his cabin and the two rental cabins burn. This view Saturday night, after the official “blow-up” the night before.
Zooming in on Domke Mountain ten miles down lake. Tri-pod and delayed shutter release to minimize vibrations.
Sunday evening view from Stehekin Landing. By Tuesday night the fire was coming over Castle Ridge, shown here climbing to the 8,137’ summit of Castle Rock, at right.
The mountain is famous not for its exceptional height, but for its rugged abruptness from Lake Chelan, rising 7100’ in 2.3 miles.
From the summit to the bottom of the lake, is deeper than the Grand Canyon or Hells Canyon.
Speaking of Hell, that’s about what this flare-up seemed like. I was glad to have the lake between me and that devil.
Monday evening’s clear skies contrasted with the sunlit plume.
Wednesday brought a third day of concerted air attack, a welcome sight. Six more copters would have been even more welcome.
This copter sucked up water for some accurate drops. The other slung a water bucket.
This article was originally posted on 08/07/2015.