Firefighters hustle to reopen Pacific Crest Trail

Central Washington wildfires threaten not only communities, they’ve shut down the popular Pacific Crest Trail, thwarting more than 800 northbound through-hikers – people trekking 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.
     Unless, that is, a team of firefighting “hotshots” can douse the Blankenship blaze currently flanking the PCT 13 miles west of the northern tip of Lake Chelan.
     The Blankenship fire closed the PCT on July 23. For a short time hikers took a detour route, but then the Wolverine fire threatened the detour, closing that trail as well.
     As long as the PCT remains closed, northbound through-hikers – only 93 trail miles from the Canadian border finish line – basically have two options: Walk along roads for 101 miles to bypass the closure, or postpone the rest of their journey until the fires burn out. Realistically, that means finishing the hike next year.
     All spring and summer I’ve been hiking the PCT vicariously via the wonderful blog written by a woman named Kasey, a Seattle-area native. I don’t know what kind of formal training she’s had, but this woman is a gifted writer. Her most recent post had her near Willamette Pass in Oregon, so by now she’s likely beyond the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson and approaching Mt. Hood.
     Kasey and her trail pals undoubtedly know about the PCT fires. Here’s hoping that by the time they reach that zone, so close to their goal, the hotshots will have made the trail safe for passage.
     Read more about the Blankenship fire in this Wenatchee World article that ran in The Seattle Times.

by  Jon Osterberg

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