Visitors and guests at Bearskin frequently ask about the 2007 Ham Lake fire. More and more often now the question goes something like this: "Didn't you guys have a fire up here quite a few years ago?" It's surprising how fast the time has passed since that spring of 2007, but on the Gunflint Trail the fire still feels like very recent history.
Bearskin was fortunate to be out of the burn area, but you don't have to travel very much farther up the trail to begin seeing the blackened remains of a formerly beautiful forest. Because a low green undergrowth has gradually spread across the forest floor, the first sight of the burned areas is not as shocking as it was shortly after the fire. The starkness of blackened trees, rocks, underbrush, and soil is muted by a carpet of green. Still, you don't have to drive very far through "the burn" before the degree of forest devastation becomes almost overwhelming. Underbrush grows back quickly; 100-year-old trees do not.