A couple years ago I spent a few nights, alone, at the Baring Creek cabin along St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park. A few days ago it burnt down in the Reynolds Creek fire.
The press copy about “the historic” cabin is somewhat misleading. Yes it was built in the 1930s, possibly by CCC labor. Yes it is hidden away in a gorgeous location, and was an excellent example of the classic one-room patrol cabins, back when such things were more systematically used. But the cabin was also 100 meters from a paved road, and the vintage look was taken away by the installation of a propane range and oven inside. Oddly, no propane lights were installed, hence my wearing of a headlamp when it was still light outside, as the classic cabins have windows both small and few.
The Reynolds Creek fire is noteworthy because it started and has primarily burned through old growth pine forest. Not especially scenic stuff from a hiking perspective due to the lack of views, but very pretty if you have a good look, what with abundant moss and thick twisted bark. The Reynolds Creek drainage is one of the very few places in Glacier I’ve seen lynx tracks.
The area won’t be the same for quite some time. I’m not enough of a dendrologist to know how long it’s been since the Reynolds, Baring, and St. Mary valley forests have burned, but I’m quite sure it has been a long time. Over a century, perhaps. These forests are not especially moist, but they are dark, and hold onto the long snow of winter for a long time. This spring they were, surely, fairly quiet. Next spring they’ll be much louder, with standing dead snags, lots of flowers and greenery, and plenty of happy deer, elk, and bears.
I look forward to seeing it next year.
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