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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

September 25, 2012 at 7:00 AM

In memoriam: Naneum Rim Trail

I discovered the Naneum Rim Trail, No. 1234 in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, earlier this month. Right before it burned to a crisp.

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The Naneum Rim Trail offered views and beauty and birds, served up on a canyon rim with views to the far distance.

Douglas MacDonald, photo

Of course when forest fires burn, it is loss of life and property and the dangers of smoke, creating unhealthy air conditions, that capture the headlines. But there are other losses too: of habitat and recreational jewels that it will take generations to replace, if ever.

The Naneum was a special place, where ecological realms came together. There were verdant meadows with wildflowers, but sagebrush, too, with its trademark sharp scent.

There were gigantic larches, glowing with green lichen.

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Who could even guess the age of the giant larches along the Naneum Riim Trail?

Douglas MacDonald, photo

On this hike of course I had no idea I would never have a chance to see this place, like this, again. I was lost in the wonder of scarlet tanangers in the trees, and the soft views of a meadow far below the canyon rim.

meadow.jpg

Naneum Meadow beckons at the bottom of the canyon, soft and green.

Douglas MacDonald, photo

The Table Mountain fire is still flaming away, as it has since mid-September. This pretty place sits right in the middle of all the orange in the Forest Service’s online map that depicts the current locations of the fires.

As I looked at the map, I knew this place, which I so loved and looked forward to exploring further, would not be there to return to.

There will be something else of course, the beginning of the newest of starts. But it won’t be that soft, pretty place we found just by accident, stretching our legs on the way back from a camping trip. Just days before it would be gone as we knew it, to enjoy again.

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Detail of an ancient larch along the trail. Will its thick bark enable it to survive the Table Mountain Fire? Only time will tell.

Douglas MacDonald, photo.

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