The Next Day
Anyone who has been following my blog knows the rest of the story. Mike and the other fire fighters were able to flee the end of the Gunflint Trail without being trapped. They fought as hard and as long as they could, but it was a battle they could have never won. They drove away from the fire down the Gunflint Trail feeling defeated and with a sense of loss like no other.
As the sun went down that night we watched the flames of the fire glowing to the north of Gunflint Lake. We listened to the wind howl all night long, never letting down and we feared the worst. We heard reports at the briefing in the morning that our lodge was still standing, but others were not as lucky.
On our road, Sag Lake Trail, many of our dear friends and neighbors lost their cabins. Long time residents of the Gunflint Trail, Frank and Pat Shunn’s home was destroyed. Cabins that have been around for years were no longer standing. Around 20 structures in all were lost on Sag Lake Trail, the majority of them cabins. In their place were charred remains; bed springs, appliances, nails and ash.
Our friends Earl and Anita Cypher, owners of Superior North Outfitters, lost their outfitting building and bunks but their store was spared. We lost four cabins that were used to house employees and one cabin held all of Theresa’s belongings inside. Kevlar canoes were melted and Don and Marilyn’s storage shed burned to the ground. The fire spread and consumed the whole end of the Gunflint Trail.
The landscape has changed. Things will not ever look the same. Things will be different in our end of the world. But different isn’t always necessarily bad. The forest will green up as soon as it rains and plants will break through the ash. New growth will occur and the animals remain. Yesterday we saw mallards in a charred pond, a moose walking on our road, two deer trotting across the Trail and a grouse, all on Sag Lake Trail. Cabins can be re-built and buildings replaced, but again, lives cannot.
Today is a new day on the Gunflint Trail. The fire has increased to around 22,000 acres and will no doubt become larger today. Southwest winds with gusts up to 12-17 miles per hour and temperatures in the 80’s will get the fire cooking. There will be another prescribed burn today on the north side of Gunflint Lake to keep the fire from spreading too far to the south causing Gunflint Lake homeowners to evacuate.
We are praying and hoping today goes well. We are thankful to have a place to stay, food to eat, and friends to help us out. The kids are having fun with their sleep-overs at Baker’s but the novelty of it is beginning to wear off. They are anxious to return to their beds, their toys and their home.
I wish I could tell them when we could go home. We still don’t have electricity or phone and with the fire only 5% contained, it isn’t safe. I showed them pictures of the destruction and explained whose cabins were gone and whose cabins remained. I told them forest fire is good for the forest and it will look better soon. I also told them that it doesn’t matter where we live or what we have as long as we have each other.