End of September Hike to Buck Creek Fire Area

On Friday September 30, I hiked into the Buck Creek Fire area, inside of the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area.  Buck Creek is reached at the end of Chiwawa River Road, near Trinity, a former mining town.  Buck Creek Fire ignited from lightning on July 22nd and is still burning. This is a fire that was never suppressed.  The Forest Service made a wise decision in letting it do it's thing, while protecting Trinity, and planning a contingency should the fire burn outside of the wilderness. The Buck Creek Trail is officially closed and for good reason.  I had obtained permission, and felt privileged.  I had to be very careful as there are a great many charred trees hanging by a thread and ready to fall.  This is what I would call a good fire. There are no really large areas left treeless.  Burned areas are intermingled with patches of untouched vegetation.  The fire has made Buck Creek area more interesting, and more ecologically diverse.   I will write more later in an article.   Thanks to Cary Stock and Jeff Rivera of Wenatchee River R.D. for letting me in!

 Fire and avalanche have both left their mark on Phelps Ridge.

Fire and avalanche have both left their mark on Phelps Ridge.

 Bridge over the Chiwawa River wrapped for protection.  This material is much heavier than ordinary aluminum foil.  

Bridge over the Chiwawa River wrapped for protection.  This material is much heavier than ordinary aluminum foil.  

 Black mixed with green is the norm for the Buck Creek Fire.  The trail can be seen at right.  The orange-brown bushes are huckleberry.  They will send new shoots up next summer. 

Black mixed with green is the norm for the Buck Creek Fire.  The trail can be seen at right.  The orange-brown bushes are huckleberry.  They will send new shoots up next summer. 

 Most of the fire was mixed severity.  I think the scorched trees seen here are pacific silver firs. I saw quite a few woodpeckers.   The dead trees will turn into beautiful silvered snags. 

Most of the fire was mixed severity.  I think the scorched trees seen here are pacific silver firs. I saw quite a few woodpeckers.   The dead trees will turn into beautiful silvered snags. 

 The white ash marks areas where the fire burned deep into the soil.  Mixed in are pockets that were only lightly touched. 

The white ash marks areas where the fire burned deep into the soil.  Mixed in are pockets that were only lightly touched. 

 The fire is still going, and could potentially burn beneath the snow over winter.  Here the fire is creeping slowly and mainly burning underground in humus and logs.  Dr. Paul Hessburg would call this a "skunking around fire".

The fire is still going, and could potentially burn beneath the snow over winter.  Here the fire is creeping slowly and mainly burning underground in humus and logs.  Dr. Paul Hessburg would call this a "skunking around fire".

 I photographed this western toad right in the trail, in an area not burned. 

I photographed this western toad right in the trail, in an area not burned. 

 This hole in the ground is big enough to bury a volkswagen beetle.  The trail can be seen at right.  The ground was very loose and ready to cave in.  As to the origin of the hole, my only theory is that this section of trail is an old mining road, and the miners used stumps for fill. 

This hole in the ground is big enough to bury a volkswagen beetle.  The trail can be seen at right.  The ground was very loose and ready to cave in.  As to the origin of the hole, my only theory is that this section of trail is an old mining road, and the miners used stumps for fill.