Smoke in the Mountains

by Maura Elko September. 09, 2017 1096 views

– Wildfires in Montana and Canada 2017 -

Recent News Headlines on Wildfires…

Glacier National Park:

August 31: Sperry Chalet, a National Historic Landmark built in 1913, burned to the ground in the raging Sprague wildfire.

September 3: Going to the Sun Road closed on the west side, from Logan Pass down to Lake MacDonald, with evacuation orders in place.

September 7th: A unique area of rainforest and Old Cedar & Hemlock trees thought to be from the 1500’s are in danger of also being destroyed if the fires continue on…

Waterton Lakes:

September 5: Park closed and voluntary evacuations of the townsite issued due to the spreading Kenow Fire coming from nearby British Columbia.

Other fires are still burning throughout Glacier National Park, many western states, and Canada. The drought and exceptionally high temperatures in the area are perfect conditions for fires to start, of which most are caused by lightning strikes.

Wow, we were just there 2 weeks ago!

Before leaving on our 2 week trip to Montana & the Canadian Rockies to visit the National Parks in the area, I had heard a little bit about wildfires burning in Glacier National Park. It was nothing major at the time, although I was slightly worried about what we might run into.

On the plane ride, a man from Calgary who was traveling back home there told us that usually you can see the mountains way off in the distance, but now the visibility wasn’t that great because of all the smoke.

After we landed and drove towards the mountains, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada being our first stop, it smelled like campfires in the air. Getting out of the car, small bits of ash blew around us, and the visibility, although not that bad at the time, was smoky in the distance.

Beautiful Waterton Lake. Was pretty clear visibility except in the distance, the south side where the US meets Canada. August 20th.

Beautiful Waterton Lake. Was pretty clear visibility except in the distance, the south side where the US meets Canada. August 20th.

The smoke from the fire, although far away at this point, was carried on the wind. You were able to smell it in the air.

The smoke from the fire, although far away at this point, was carried on the wind. You were able to smell it in the air.

The East end of Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, NP. It was smoky on the south end of St. Mary Lake when we arrived on August 22nd.

The East end of Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, NP. It was smoky on the south end of St. Mary Lake when we arrived on August 22nd.

A little island in Saint Mary Lake. Smoke coming over the mountains in the distance.

A little island in Saint Mary Lake. Smoke coming over the mountains in the distance.

Driving through the various parks, we saw a lot of dead, burned trees along the mountainsides from previous wildfires. It’s actually a normal part of the ecosystem of these forests to have fire to clear away the dead fallen trees, branches, and underbrush that piles up. It also causes certain seed pods to open so that new trees can grow.

Dead trees from previous forest fires in Glacier National Park.

Dead trees from previous forest fires in Glacier National Park.

The Eastern Valley of Glacier National Park, driving along Going to the Sun Road. August 23rd.

The Eastern Valley of Glacier National Park, driving along Going to the Sun Road. August 23rd.

The valley filled with smoke.

The valley filled with smoke.

Standing on the southern end of Lake MacDonald, smoke visible inbetween the mountains in the distance.

Standing on the southern end of Lake MacDonald, smoke visible inbetween the mountains in the distance.

The problem of fire isn’t necessarily a bad thing for nature, but mostly for humans that inhabit these areas. Hopefully rain will come soon to western North America and give relief.

There were areas where you would see whole mountainsides covered in dead trees from wildfires years ago. This was taken along the road in Kootenay National Park, Canada.

There were areas where you would see whole mountainsides covered in dead trees from wildfires years ago. This was taken along the road in Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Probably the worse bit of smoke we drove through was on our way from the town of Golden to Mount Revelstoke in British Columbia. We were driving on Trans-Canada Route 1, and it was so thick with white smoke all around you could barely see the mountainsides that were close by. It cleared up after we got to Roger’s Pass in Glacier National Park of Canada.

Trans Canada Hwy 1 around Glacier National Park in British Columbia, Canada. August 26th.

Trans Canada Hwy 1 around Glacier National Park in British Columbia, Canada. August 26th.

Heading back towards Golden in the late afternoon. A lot had cleared up, however plumes of smoke on the mountainsides were very visible, and not far from the road.

Heading back towards Golden in the late afternoon. A lot had cleared up, however plumes of smoke on the mountainsides were very visible, and not far from the road.

That tiny spot in the sky above the mountains in the middle is a helicopter.

That tiny spot in the sky above the mountains in the middle is a helicopter.

As we made our way towards Banff, smoke from the Verdant Creek wildfire was still pretty strong, having been burning since July 15th. The mountains in these areas are beyond beautiful, even with the smoke from the wildfires hiding some of them.

Smoke around Banff as the sun was setting. August 30th.

Smoke around Banff as the sun was setting. August 30th.

Canmore, Alberta. August 31st.

Canmore, Alberta. August 31st.

There are so many natural disasters going on in the world today. As of September 8th, these wildfires in western North America are still going on, terrible hurricanes and floods in the south east, an earthquake that just hit Mexico! And all this just in the western hemisphere!  The only way we can get through rough times is to band together and help each other. We can’t always rely on our governments for aid either, so if any of these tragedies touch your heart, try to help in some way if you can. Those in need will be grateful for any support!

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There are 16 comments , add yours!
Carmen Boutot 1 month, 1 week ago

Such a beautiful place!

1 month, 1 week ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to Carmen Boutot 1 month, 1 week ago

It was absolutely incredible, if you get a chance to go I highly recommend it!

1 month, 1 week ago Edited
Helen Hooker 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Glorious photos!

1 month, 2 weeks ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to Helen Hooker 1 month, 1 week ago

Thank you!

1 month, 1 week ago Edited
E Bellizzi 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.  Thanks so much for sharing.  I used to live in AZ so I can appreciate your comment about being able to smell the smoke in the air.  Stay safe!

1 month, 3 weeks ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to E Bellizzi 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yeah extreme wildfires are both beautiful and heartbreaking anytime we see vast destruction. Thankfully now up there it has snowed, even rained some before that so the fires are calming down.

1 month, 3 weeks ago Edited
Spaceman One-Seven 2 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for the photos. I was in Glacier this summer and saw it, too, just from the other side. I'm new to Montana and didn't realize that some locations had 'fire season', a time when they experienced an uptick in wildfires.  I think that Montana's fire season is August/September, but I could be wrong on that. The night the Sprague fire started, we had over 150 lightning strikes in the park - some developed into fires, most didn't. Folks in the park who had some history with Sperry Chalet (had visited, met their spouse, had worked there, etc) were greatly saddened by its loss. Thanks again

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to Spaceman One-Seven 2 months, 1 week ago

Glad you liked the photos! And I didn't know about "fire season" either! This was my first trip to Glacier and the surroundings.  We really did get luckily to see the park when we did... the whole town of Waterton Lakes is evacuated now, and the visitor's center burned down :(  We were just there! Can't believe how quickly things can change...I wish we got to see Sperry Chalet, but we didn't have a whole lot of time there when we went.

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Stephanie 2 months, 1 week ago

Wonderful photos but a timely comment on our society...

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to Stephanie 2 months, 1 week ago

Thank you. Indeed as time goes on, diasters get worse :(

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Michelle Keena 2 months, 1 week ago

I felt like I was there!  Thank you for the lovely photos!

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to Michelle Keena 2 months, 1 week ago

Thanks that's a big compliment!

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Antonio Gil 2 months, 1 week ago

Fire is also ravaging my country, and here we had many deaths too. Love your pictures

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to Antonio Gil 2 months, 1 week ago

I'm sorry to hear that! Terrible things really go on around the whole world today :(

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 2 months, 1 week ago

Very impressive photos!

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Maura Elko Replied to Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 2 months, 1 week ago

Thank you! :)

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
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