Originally appeared: Saturday, July 18, 2009, NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL NEWS
I just wanted to write a story about one of my experiences when I hiked the Kekekabic Trail in late May. I had stopped early and camped at the Aganok Falls campsite. It’s a truly spectacular falls, and I took lots of photos. My plan was to get up early and hike out to the Gunflint Trail the next day.
So I got up the next morning and started hiking by 6am. About 15 minutes after I started hiking I got to a place where the trail goes up a gigantic hill. Now, backpacking up a steep hill is not my most favorite thing to do, but I kept on thinking that maybe there would be some incredible views at the top. Maybe I would be able to take some great photos. Well, I made it to the top of the hill, and I did see some incredible views. They were incredibly bad.
|Hiking toward Gabimichigami Lake in the burn zone|
|Hiking all day in the burn zone is a bummer|
I was in the burn zone and everything I could see going forward was burnt. It was very sad. I did hike out to the Gunflint Trail that day, but the whole hike, all 12 miles of it was in the burn zone. And the next day I hiked the Magnetic Rock Trail which is a burnt up landscape, too.
|Completing the Kekekabic Trail|
|The 40 foot high Magnetic Rock used to be hidden in the trees. Now because of the fire it's a dominating landmark|
After I came home from my backpacking trip I decided to find some information about the fire on the internet. The fire is called the Ham Lake Fire because it started at a campsite on Ham Lake. It is suspected that a canoeist had accidently started the fire. The Ham Lake Fire burned over 75000 acres, and was the largest fire in the Boundary Waters in more than a century.
The Forest Service recommends that all campfires should be drown with water. All the embers should be completely soaked. After reading all this I came up with an acronym. Here it is, DYFORYST. It is pronounced like Die Forest and stands for “Drown Your Fire Or Ruin Your Special Trail.” It’s not the most catchy acronym in the world but it makes a powerful point: drown your fire or the forest will die and your favorite trail will be ruined. It doesn’t matter if it a canoe trail or a hiking trail, it will be ruined. The acronym DYFORYST might just be different enough or weird enough that people will remember it.
The canoeist in question was an avid outdoorsman who loved the Boundary Waters. Maybe he made a mistake or maybe the fire started some other way. We’ll never know exactly what happened on May 5, 2007 on the shoreline of Ham Lake. But if you remember DYFORYST, maybe you can prevent a big fire on the date of your next outing.