Seagull Lake- After the Cavity Lake Fire
On Saturday when they announced Seagull Lake was open again I had mixed feelings. Part of me wanted to get right out there and see it and the other part of me didn’t want to see it at all. I have seen the effects of fire before; after the Sag Corridor Fire, after numerous prescribed burns, and after last year’s Alpine Lake Fire. Something told me this one would be worse but still my desire to see what the Cavity Lake Fire did to Seagull Lake won. I called some friends, loaded the canoes and headed over to the Trail’s End boat landing.
Starting out on the normal route out to Seagull through the little chute was all the same. Three Mile Island looked the same as it did earlier this Summer and even the area around the Palisade looked the same. I was relieved to see the Palisade unscathed by the fire. It is a special place where people can hike up to the top of and see the beauty of Seagull Lake all around. It is a place where one of the Hamm’s Beer commercials with the bear was filmed. It is a place to go to reflect on life, take in the wilderness, eat some blueberries and contemplate life. It is a place many people love and cherish and it was spared. My favorite campsite around the corner in the bay was also saved and even Miles Island looked pretty good. Beyond that it was changed and that is what made me cry.
For once I was glad to have a wind pick up while out paddling because it blew smoke onto the Lake and somehow softened what I saw. It was almost as if I was in a dream; you know the one where there is a fog and you can’t quite see things clearly no matter how hard you try? I’m not sure if it was my mind making it easier on me or really the smoke but it was almost hard to tell what it looked like in the distance. We paddled next to some islands that were burnt to a crisp, charred black to the ground where rock stood out barren in sharp contrast to the blackened landscape. We paddled past shorelines where the only thing left standing were black poles that you couldn’t even identify as something that was once a tree. In some places little puffs of smoke still rose from the burnt land almost as if to say, "I’m still here."
It was that message that stuck in my head as I paddled around Seagull Lake Saturday evening, fighting back the tears in my eyes. "I’m still here." The water is still here. The fish, the loons, the ducks are all still here. And most importantly my family and friends are still here. Seagull Lake will not be the same in my lifetime but who says things have to stay the same? Everything changes and nothing stays the same. Who are we to tell Mother Nature what is best for her wilderness? New growth will occur; new plants, berries, and trees will grow, just as they did after every other wilderness fire. The Cavity Lake Fire has changed Seagull Lake, but sometimes change is good and as long as I’m still here, then that will have to be good enough for me.