My work Thursday morning took me halfway up the northern route into Trout Lake. So after I was finished I decided to keep going and see how far I could get toward the lake. Turned out I could get all the way in. I drove past a Road Closed sign to do it, but there were no firefighting or National Guard personnel to turn me away. A single copter was working the ridge to the east. I could see streamers of smoke on the ridge to the west, too. As I surmised, lots of hot spots to mop up.
The fire had burned on both sides of the lake, though the fire on the east side had not made it all the way around. Looks like the fire to the west did. The north campground made it through untouched. The south campground had the fire burn right up to its edge before it stopped. I went to the water's edge at the channel. I didn't see rises, but I know they're in there.
I debated whether to fish or not. I decided to wait a little longer. I'm not sure I or the fish could really concentrate on fishing while the lake is still an active--and officially closed--fire zone. And I wanted to keep going, so I headed down the road toward Fish Lake. The fire had come up both sides of the road. Most of the burn area was cold, but not all.
I drove up out of the valley, and out of the closed area. My usual southern route home was open. There were plenty of burned over areas along the way. It looked, though, like the fire had been contained on the ridges and hills, and I was happy to see that all the homes I could see from the road at least had been spared.
I pulled off on a side road and drove up to get this panoramic view of the Okanogan valley. All of what you can see from here has been touched by fire. And a wisp of smoke from the still-active North Star/Tunk Block fire is visible way over on the ridge line to the left center of these photos.
It was a sobering trip, but also an encouraging one. Looks like the war is all but over. People are back in their homes for the most part all over the area, and while firefighters still have work to do, it's mostly mop up.
It won't be long now.