I spent a large chunk of yesterday bird-watching but today I thought I'd stick a bit closer to home. There's a trail that parallels the river that I hadn't been to in some time so today seemed as good as any to go exploring. While the Birchwood Trail system (where I was yesterday) took a bit of damage, the destruction here is abundantly evident. The picture below is but a 10 minute walk from my neighbourhood in Thickwood.
While I've walked the area countless times, I had a hard time even recognizing where I was at times. I wasn't lost (the trail essentially parallels the top of the river valley) but it was difficult to square what my eyes were seeing with how my mind remembered it. It was rather surreal.
The one constant was the river view.
This is what it looks like behind Abasand in the general area where last May's fire began. The forest didn't look as bad when it was covered with snow all winter but now with the spring weather I find myself starting to notice it much more.
I recall reading somewhere that it will take 7 to 10 years for the surrounding forest to look "normal" again and up to 30 years for the forest to completely heal itself. I should add too that the entire area doesn't look like this. This area seems pretty stark due to the fact that this is the area where the fire more or less started. The photo above isn't all that far from where the "Beast" jumped the Athabasca and began its advance on Thickwood and Timberlea. But as I mentioned above, there are other areas that look just like any other piece of healthy boreal forest.
This might be the new normal for this particular area and I'll certainly miss the trail as I first knew it but I know it will come back. All it takes is time.