Almost one year ago, the mountain communities of Pine and Featherville were threatened by the massive Trinity Ridge Fire that ended up burning more than 100,000 acres.
It took weeks of round the clock work from firefighters to protect and save the entire valley.
For me and my family, it’s a favorite vacation spot. So I took them back to discover everything seems to be almost back to normal.
“I think a lot of people think we got fried,” said John Lewis, and why wouldn’t they?
A fire caused by an off road vehicle quickly grew to 17,000 acres and had Pine and Featherville in its sights.
“Well, in reality, I think in some parts of the valley, it was within 50 yards and, in some cases, within 50 feet,” said Lewis.
Lewis and his wife, Kathy, operate the Elk Valley Resort, and the Trinity Ridge Fire was no friend of theirs.
I asked Lewis if it was hard to breathe. He said, “It was very difficult. At times, the smoke would settle in and wouldn’t clear out until afternoon.”
As the fire got closer to Featherville, residents became worried because the fire would actually jump from tree to tree.
With embers and ash falling all around them, it was the brave firefighters who stood their ground, saying, “Not today”.
Featherville property owner, Chris Carlson, said of firefighters, “They’re just amazing heroes, if you could see what they prevented. We could have lost everything up here.”
Featherville’s Elk Valley is alive and well, proving it’s more than just a resort. It’s a place where old and new friends gather to share a good story and a hearty laugh.
Carlson said, “They’re wonderful people. Always have a smile on their faces. They’re happy. They just want you to enjoy the beauty they get to see every day.”
That’s what drew my family to the area, a real sense of what Idaho is all about. We’re no different than other families who wouldn’t let the Trinity Ridge Fire keep them away.
“We bring folks up here to spend time on our property. Most haven’t been here before and they don’t want to leave,” said Carlson.
So, as my family and I stood looking at what was, we could only imagine that the forests, like the people who work and play in them, will continue to be full of life.