We have been on a fire in Minnesota for three days. We left the helicopter in Colorado and drove 24 hours to get here, through snowstorms and lonely windswept towns.
This fire has been burning for over a month. Much of it is only accessible by water. Crews travel by seaplanes and canoes, portaging from lake to lake. We go to the seaplane base to take canoe training, in case we are needed on the fireline. This quickly degenerates into canoe races, until the instructor tires of us and says it is time to go back to shore.
Later, we drive into the fire. Green grass is already growing in parts of the burn.
Now it is raining. This is Big Rain, the season-ending kind. There is talk of snow and high temperatures in the 30s by next week. It was bound to happen. We have been chasing summer for too long. It's time now to start packing up, to think about winter.
We will stay here as long as we can, until the helicopters leave and the crews come off the line for good. Sled dogs will be used to get any gear left in the wilderness if the weather closes in. It's just about time to move on, to see what's next.