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We Will Never Forget the Kindness of Seeley Lake

 

November 9, 2017



SEELEY LAKE - When we set out from Pyramid trailhead on a 12-day backpacking trip in the Bob on July 23, we were filled with excitement and a bit of trepidation about the challenging and beautiful journey ahead. We had no way of knowing that a night or two later, a forest fire would start on Rice Ridge.

On July 30 we learned about the fire - and the resulting closure of Pyramid trailhead. Unsure how we would travel from the suggested re-route Lodgepole Creek trailhead back to Seeley Lake and hopefully our car at Pyramid, we picked up the pace and shortened our trip.

Thanks to a bit of good luck, on Aug. 1 we encountered a backcountry trail worker with a radio along Young’s Creek. From that moment on, we learned how amazing the U.S. Forest Service staff are and how gracious the people of Seeley Lake are.

We learned first hand how much wilderness permit registry forms matter. When the backcountry trail worker radioed in to see if a shuttle from Lodgepole Creek trailhead might be possible, the USFS staff member said, “You’re with Beau and Sara from Boise? We’re so glad you made contact with them.”

We went on to learn that because we’d recorded our trip route on the permit, the USFS had backcountry rangers in the three National Forest districts we passed through on the lookout for us.

 After a USFS volunteer picked us up at Lodgepole Creek trailhead, we were brought to the fire incident headquarters and learned that dozens (maybe more) firefighters knew about “the hikers.” It seemed that until they knew we were safe, the USFS was concerned that we could be in harm’s way.

We interacted with dozens of firefighters in the days that followed. Each one was hard working, thoughtful and considerate despite their demanding and exhausting work. People went out of their way to check on us for the two days we stayed at the Incident Command Post while making arrangements to travel home to Boise without our car. We remain ever grateful to those who face so much danger to protect people and communities when forest fires pose a threat.

We are also deeply grateful to the thoughtful staff we interacted with in Seeley Lake businesses and the kind community members. From the couple that invited us to stay in their home, to the servers at local restaurants, to the local law enforcement officers, the people of Seeley Lake captured our hearts with their graciousness, especially given the looming threat posed by the ever-worsening fire.

Two weeks after we left Seeley Lake, a firefighter was able to safely drive our car out of harm’s way. We again were touched by the graciousness of the Seeley Lake community as a local business helped us arrange from a distance to have our car inspected for any damage from exposure to ash before driving it eight hours home to Boise. 

The whole experience reminded us of the deep interconnectedness of people. Strangers went out of their way to offer assistance, and although we’ve forgotten many names, we will never forget the kindness of people in Seeley Lake.  

 

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