I just got back from a climb up Summit Chief and the PCT just below Vista Tarns goes through a snag forest from a relatively recent burn. I assumed this was part of the 2009 Lemah Meadows burn that closed the PCT for a year, but it's not. The PCT segment climbing Escondido Ridge was part of the detour route at that time. I found lots of online references to the 2009 Lemah Fire, but none for the burn high on Escondido Ridge. Does anyone remember this or can provide a link to a contemporary account?
Looking at Google Earth historical imagery the fire occurred sometime between 1998 and 2003. The green line is my GPS track for Summit Chief, so it doesn't follow the PCT over the ridge to Waptus Lake.
My impression is that it burned in 1994, but I don't know how to account for the google image. I hiked that section of the PCT in 2004, and there were lots of wildflowers and new life among the blackened snags--- not all that different from your recent photos, actually. Regrowth happens very slowly at that altitude/snowpack, so what I saw seemed consistent with a fire 10 years earlier (but I'm not an expert on these things). And I think several guidebooks referred to a fire in 1994.
Is it possible that the historical google image has the wrong date? Or maybe the dark areas that look like forest are actually something else, like blackened debris on the ground?
Whenever it happened, that recovery area is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen--- the contrast of wildflowers and new greenery against the blackened snags is really breathtaking.
You are correct that that fire (and many others) were in mid-summer, 1994. I visited the ridge line of Summit Chief and the lakes below in late August of 1995 with a friend and her 3 mo. old Golden Retriever. We were surprised by the burn which was so very hot that it completely burnt out the meadow and followed the roots of trees at the top of the ridge.
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