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Now that it is almost officially fall, it looks like fire season might be over in our little corner of the world. We hope.

I did not do much photography this summer. Most days were filled with smoke and it was often unbearably hot. Much of the public land was closed and our main access to the North Cascades, Highway 20, was closed.

Here are a few images of the summer. Most from home. But some from Pearrygin Lake, before they closed it to the public. We got to see LOTS of firefighting aircraft. Our friend from Montana even got to visit the valley to drop water from a big bucket attached to a huge helicopter. We were able to visit him at the airport one day when he wasn’t flying. The little fire boss planes are pretty amazing the way they fly in formation, scooping water and then dumping it on the fire and the giant retardant jets are a sight to see when they fly low over the fire spilling their contents to halt the spread of flames.

No houses were lost and no one died in our fires. We are grateful for firefighters, on the ground and in the air.

We enjoyed walking to both of the lighthouses with a tour of the North Head Light. As we walked through the woods, we could hear the noise of a nearby helicopter. Once we were out on the bluff we could see that the Coast Guard crew was practicing rescues off of the cliff. There was a child wearing ear protection along with a couple of adults. When we asked if he always walked with ear protection, we were told that his dad was part of the helicopter crew and he was there to watch him work. Pretty cool.

The North Head light has been restored and is open for tours. The Cape Disappointment light is in a state of disrepair and while we could walk to it, no one is allowed in. We also visited Fort Columbia State Historical Park and the town of Long Beach.

Our friends Ed and Torre live directly across the valley from us and a little higher on the hill. They had a perfect view of the perfect storm of a fire that burned here on August 1. Torre was on the phone to me telling me to get out as I was grabbing stuff and throwing it in the truck as fast as I could. Later we kept in touch by phone as they watched our house disappear into the thick smoke and then later reappear to be saved by helicopters with buckets of water. When the smoke first covered the house there were three fire trucks from our local volunteers – Okanogan District 6! We believe they saved the place the first time as the initial fire raced across the hill.

Here are some of Ed’s photos of the helicopter action. You can see more of Ed’s work at his Flickr site.

Ken found the pilot of the orange and white helicopter that put out that burning woodpile and expressed our undying gratitude to him.

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