Burning Falls

Wednesday, 30th May 2012; 11:30 am

Forest fires… touched off by lightning, empowered by a record-setting warm winter with little snow (and thus dry vegetation), and further enabled by budget-constrained fire-fighting forces in a remote territory with few roads (air power from Minnesota and the National Guard have been called in)… have been disrupting life at the northern end of my itinerary for this year’s big ride.

This was the view from space a couple days ago:

Tahquamenon Falls State Park (my northernmost camping site, also location of the last remaining old-growth forest in Michigan) lies under that stream of smoke. This past holiday weekend, the park was closed as a precaution, reopening (with some areas still off-limits) a few days later, when the danger from smoke and ash subsided. The fire still burns.

But my plans remain unchanged.

First, it’ll be several weeks before I ride north. Even the worst-case scenario would be that current fires run out of fuel before then. Second, even if the worst happens, and the forests which inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem of Hiawatha burn… I want to see what becomes of the place, and pay my respects, documenting the destruction if need be. Third, the Falls themselves will remain, regardless.

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