There is a saying, Per ardua ad astra, that translates to “Through adversity to the stars.” This summer I’ve developed my own personal version: “Through smoke to the Monument.”
Needless to say the early (and nearby) fire season has impacted my time with the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. For several weeks while the Klamathon Fire burned we had maps in the Contact Station and our back pockets outlining what portions of the Monument were closed for the public’s safety. When driving back down Highway 66 after a full day of hiking and talking with the public we would watch the dark plumes of smoke roll over the Siskiyous, often squinting to try and find Pilot Rock.
When other fires began, filling the valleys with a gray haze, I wondered: Would visitors still come up to the Monument?
The answer has been a resounding yes. Over the summer I’ve spoken with people from all across the country. Some sought to get out of the heat and find a shady spot by Little Hyatt Reservoir to dip their toes in. Many came to hike trails like the Greensprings Loop, or get a field guide to the wildflowers that lingered into July on Grizzly Peak. Others visited for an evening program on the beach and a Junior Explorer activity in the morning.
In their own way, these people remind me of the resiliency of our forests. The fires are a natural part of this area and so are taken in stride. Our visitors seek out the clearer air and leave refreshed, ready to begin again, and our residents hold onto their roots, however young or old, here in the mountains. One way or another, like myself, they all have come through the smoke to the Monument.
by Paige Engelbrektsson
Interpretive Ranger Intern
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
Photos by Paige Engelbrektsson, except where noted.