Trout Talk

Keeping an eye out for wildfires

Sunset over a trout stream in Idaho.

Sunset over the Caribou National Forest, Idaho. Chris Hunt photo.

I’ve spent the last couple of days working from one of my favorite places in the world — an out-of-the-way campsite in the middle of the Caribou National Forest. 

Some years back, while fishing the little trout stream near camp, my phone rang in my fishing vest. Bewildered, I answered the phone. It was my boss.

“How did you find me?” I asked. I had taken a day off to chase native cutthroats and I assumed I was well off the grid and certainly out of cell range.

“I just dialed your number,” he replied. I looked at my phone and realized that, in this little spot some 15 miles off the pavement, I had a full cell signal, complete with data. 

While I generally go camping and fishing to “get away from it all,” it’s nice to be able to haul the camper up and get in a full work day while looking out over a gorgeous little trout stream complete with a really nice swimming hole to help take the worst out of the summertime heat. 

But it can also be a little scary. As most have heard, the Northwest is enduring some serious heat — records are shattering all over the region, and it’s been pretty hot, here, too. And last night, a storm blew through, and not the good kind. A bit of wind pushed a mostly dry thunderstorm over the mountains. The lightning that lit up the evening sky was stunning, but without rain to accompany it, I worried that this may be what starts the local fire season. 

We watch daily as aircraft zip over the region, likely looking for wildfires that have sprung up. There’s a lot of people in the woods these days leading up to the July 4 holiday. That fact, coupled with the dry storm last night makes me worry that a fire isn’t a matter of “if,” but rather “when.”

Be careful out there on public lands. This heat is drying everything out and even a modest mistake with a hot undercarriage or carelessly discarded cigarette can have drastic repercussions. 

I love my little spot here in the woods, but it might be time to give it a break, at least until the heat subsides. I’d hate to see it go up in smoke. 

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