Right now the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Georgia is being inundated with huge wildfires. This past spring saw at least seven fires sprout up on the trail, causing major issues not only for hikers but also for residents. 2016 has been a severe year for fires.
|Fire burns in Shenandoah National Park, Spring 2016|
I am seeing many posts of scared, exhausted, and concerned hikers who fear what the trail will look like after such devastation. A revered tower that many hikers used to view the grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains has also burned down (Wesser Tower). Lots of things are changing.
I totally understand the pain and anguish. I saw 10,000 acres in Shenandoah National Park burn this past spring. I was similarly devastated. I had to inhale smoke, I watched the trails I loved to hike overrun by flames (caused by an illegal campfire) and hikers having to be rerouted. For several agonizing weeks I endured it. It was very stressful.
|Brow Mtn Overlook, Shenandoah National Park|
Eventually the rains came. The fires were put out. A smoldering black landscape was revealed.
|The AT in Shenandoah shortly after the fire was put out|
But not for long.
Creation has a way of healing. And fast.
In six weeks I saw this happen -
In a few months I saw this. I was so pleased and happy. I knew everything was going to be ok.
|A changed landscape but new vegetation and a great new view.|
Nature does come back. Yes, there will be changes to the landscape. There will likely be less of a tree canopy so summers will be hotter on the trail. BUT there will be views galore. Wildflowers in abundance will come in the spring. The birds will return and merrily chirp. The trees too, whose roots survive, will put out new shoots. Blueberries and rhododendron and mountain laurel that love acidic soil will flourish, and their showy flowers will line the trail and delight hikers. And all of this happens so quickly, it’s amazing.
Nature will return, though it brings little consolation now. But I like the Scripture in Psalm 30:5 that says: ...Weeping may stay the night but rejoicing comes in the morning.
And a new morn will dawn on the new Appalachian Trail.