Monday, August 17, 2015

Shitty "neighborhood" forest fire

It's kinda interesting my last post was about a fire lookout who didn't have a map of Canada because he works in a lookout on the USA side.  Well, I'm sure he saw the smoke from this one.  In fact, that lookout was surrounded 360 degree by active forest fire last weekend.  I wonder what it must be like for a person serving as a lookout to witness smoke emerge all over the landscape, puff, puff and roar.

In fact, there were people on the highway who saw it light up.

"My husband was on the way to Oliver and saw a little puff of smoke.
By the time he parked and got to the other side of the road, the trees went up".
Hopefully because there is a road cam looking up the highway the RCMP and Ministry of Forests and Ministry of Transportation will be able to find the car that threw out the cigarette.  -We're pretty sure there was no one on the Trans-Canada Trail/KVR, but there was cyclists going over Anarchist that afternoon.  We all knew it was ripe for a forest fire, but like human behaviour, I always think it's going to happen to someone else.  Now my neighborhood is responsible for dealing with a forest fire that continues to be dangerous. No fatalities yet, but lots of dead live stock that couldn't escape.

The fire went from where it started north, fueled by high winds and it was a super hot day. Considering that no human was killed is an absolute miracle because people left the  Kettle River Provincial Campground running.  I don't know when they changed the name to a "recreation area". Everyone around here calls it a Provincial Park.

Photo by Dylan Dar Eckes
So far, 30 homes have been lost and dozens of other structures in the fire zone.  Our communities have mobilized like crazy and a Facebook page was set up that communicated how people could help and how to get help.  Facebook is very useful for gauging opinion and to activating people to action. I'm studying social media/technology use and to understand how to best reach out to people in the community development work I'm doing.  This fire situation is another case study for me.

The evacuation zone is still active, although as of this afternoon the evacuation order
was down graded to an alert and they are able to return home.
And then there's the debate about people and residents defending their own home and property... makes interesting reading that hopefully will not all be forgotten by October.  I have no patience for the comment about needing to follow WorkSafeBC regulations.

These are the same regulations in effect for professional ski patrolling in British Columbia - the course that is required for WorkSafeBC regs is Occupational First Aid III which is completely insufficient training for outdoor emergency work or medical emergencies that are on a ski hill.  The training basically assumes you have access to all the gear that's outfitted in a medical response truck.
Rant over.

It's led Mark and me to pack our 6 p's:

Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance 


Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance 


people and pets
personal computers

The day the Rock Creek Fire started, we had gone swimming and cycling with some friends and luckily had done a car shuttle so we had a car.  The good news is that we were able to call our neighbors and get help for our fur children who we had left at home, and then we drove around on Friday via the Hwy 6 to Edgewood/Grand Forks where I've always wanted to travel. The Boundary has over 8,000 km of logging roads and honestly it seemed a pretty good detour for me.

Just glad I didn't have to ride home on a bike.  Usually  I get dropped off and cycle down the railroad grade when I'm working for Trails to the Boundary and then get picked up late in the evening.  If I was by myself that evening, I would've been not very prepared.  As it was, I learned that in order to be a true Boundary Girl, I need to carry my passport with me.  If we had our passports it would've been much shorter in time and distance to go through the US home.

Along the TCT/KVR there are some sweet swimming spots

The "clouds" in the background is actually smoke.
Edgewood - the plaque reads "this protohistoric pole depicts the life habits of the 
lake tribe of indians (Senatcheggs) who made the arrow lakes their home.  
The Senatcheggs now extinct were water travellers, hunters, fishermen and basket weavers 
who believed in a mythical god, the coyote.  Their pit houses and pictographs are 
not covered by the waters of the arrow reservoir."
Needless to say, the Sinxt are not extinct except in the government eyes, they are alive and well, but you sure wouldn't know it by reading this deception.  How we tell ourselves stories.  The story of the Rock Creek Fire will be a story that stays for a long time. I hope something really great comes out of it, like more community development focused on sustainability and optimism about the regrowth of the ponderosa trees and native grasses.

The bad news is that Mother Nature may be throwing a few more challenges our way with decreased humidity, increased temps and wind. This climate change is something we need to demand from our government leaders action on.  I've noticed people on social media commenting that this drought we've been having is a wake-up call.  We humans are good at dealing with the day to day, but long-range planning isn't the easiest.  It's hard to change but change we must.  There isn't a back-up plan.

August 15, coming home via the backway

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Moving up in the world

Mark and I have for several years now looked at this beautiful mountain from afar, and said to ourselves, "we should go there sometime..."

We said it in the winter.

We said it in the fall.

We don't have to say it anymore, because we went up to the top at 7,258 feet last weekend.  It's a beautiful operational lookout, an easy day trip from where we live as long as we use the car.  Passport required because it's in the USA.  It's called Bonaparte Mountain and it's the tallest thing around for a long ways  The lookout at the top didn't have a map of Canada so we have to go back soon and bring him one.  He probably sees as much in Canada as he does in the US.

It had a beautiful solar array that we envyed.  Lots of raptors and birds, didn't see any critters except for a really good looking deer and some mice.  Good for our souls to check out our neighborhood. Several humans were spotted who were hiking the Pacific NW National Scenic Trail which goes from the Continental Divide in Montana to the Pacific Ocean in Washington.  Much less congested trail compared to the Pacific Crest Trail, but I'm sure the lookout will get a lot more visitors as this long distance trail gets more known.

We got to see it one last time coming up Hwy 3 from Osoyoos with the setting sun.  

I'm sure it continues to be a special place for the Native people who have lived in this area for over 10,000 years - it almost cold up there with the wind on a hot summer day.  That's where I wanted to be and want to go back to...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hot Water

Mark and I are militant anti-car drivers.  At least that's what they would say about us if we lived in 1970.  In a LIFE magazine from that year there was a story that talked about the fear of people "being militant" about not driving their vehicles.  

 Any time we can find a good reason to not get into our vehicle we try not to go, although sometimes we are just lazy.  So when we took our car into the body shop last Friday, we thought "no sweat, we'll just ride home" (we weren't feeling lazy).

What the picture doesn't tell you is that the Boundary Country like the rest of Western North America is in a massive heatwave and we just got the "third burst" of it after experiencing cooler temps for a week or so.  How soon do I forget?  We knew at the beginning of the summer it was going to be a tough year for water with the lack of accumulated snow at higher elevations .  Already forest fires have been totally crazy and the budgets overspent.BC has just experienced the warmest winter and spring since 1948 when temperature records began.

I really think I am in denial too.

So, we rode our bikes into the heat thinking it wouldn't get so bad, but at about 2pm getting water at our favorite watering hole (Tugs at Curlew) the woman working said it was 100 F out, that's 43 C for my celsius friends.  That's nothing to what the temperature  was in Iran where it hit 73 C.   It was hot. where I was, but a lot hotter in Iran - when you look at the numbers it seems impossible that anyone could even live in 73C.  But yet we do and adapt.  I think we need to do something different because our adaptations  and the critters of the world like the plants and animals aren't going to be able to adapt quick enough to what we are experiencing now.  This is climate change warm up.  A pre-event for us silly humans who think we can control nature.  We change nature, but I think it's way more powerful than our societies and governments - we need to learn within it's confines and respect the feedback we are getting.

We have just got to protect our winters.  Places that used to be viable ranches will end up having problems because without the winter snow I grew up to expect, our groundwater will not be replaced.
I saw so many homeowners in the middle of the day in Grand Forks watering their lawn.  It saddens me that even though it's a Stage 4 drought alert that people want a green lawn.  Tonight when I was coming home I saw people watering the road and I wondered how bad is this climate change going to have to get for people to realize this is serious. 

I strongly believe that climate change and reducing our CO2 emissions is the #1 enemy to our species and to all the other living things on our planet Earth.  We are slow to change and the change is coming at us faster than we ever expected.  The summer we are having this year is the summer that will be EVERY year in the year 2050.

We made it to the border before closing and crashed in the local city park to cool off on their nicely green cool lawn that absolutely nobody was using except for us. Then before we road home, we stopped again to sit in the creek to cool off again for the last 15 km home.  I really hope that the elections that are coming in the US and Canada the public selects leaders that are going to reduce carbon emissions to as little as possible.  All the other critters and beings on the planet can only wait for us humans to change.  Change we must.