My previous post was about my exploration with a friend of the Pulaski Trail and a beautiful ridge above it. I was inspired by visiting these places while being mindful of the history of the 1910 fires.
My friend and I parted ways that evening and I camped out at the base of our second trail. The next day I decided to make the full 1910 tour over Moon Pass, a dirt road that connects Wallace with Avery, two key towns in the “Big Burn” story.
In the spring I traveled this pass when our normal route to the St. Joe River was snowed off. I was in awe of the burnt and dead logs still standing from the 1910 fires. I was excited for the chance to re-visit them this fall in the frosty morning.
The numerous dead trees rise above the marshes of a high-elevation meadow that the young North Fork of the St. Joe river meanders through. They are wooden tombstones, natures’ graveyard that serves to remind us of a forest that once was.
Before the big burn Idaho’s forests would have matched the California Redwoods with towering white pines and ancient western red cedars centuries old.
If I could go back in time to once place for one day, I would to see the forests of the Bitterroots at the time of Lewis and Clark.
To cap off my 1910 trip I drove from Avery to St. Maries and visited another 1910 graveyard, that of the firefighters that lost their lives. Pulaski, wounded and half-blinded from his night in War Eagle Mine, personally kept up and funded the grave sites. It wasn’t until recently that all the remains were collected in St. Maries in a memorial.
In 2010 a new memorial was erected for these firefighters, one I think Pulaski would have liked to see during his lifetime.
If you would like to visit these places yourself…
Read “The Big Burn” by Timothy Egan
Drive Moon Pass, which exits Wallace, Idaho to the South. Don’t try this road in the winter or early spring.
For further adventuring, drive up the St, Joe river, due East of Avery. There are several great hikes, fishing and old growth cedars to see that survived the 1910 fires.