At the time of this writing, the Inland Northwest is facing extreme drought conditions. Extreme heat, early season burn bans, and numerous small wildfires throughout the region were an ominous kickoff to summer.
Hopefully by the time late summer arrives we will be able to avoid catastrophic wildfire, but here’s a hike suggestion for contemplating the legacy of fire’s impacts to our region.
First, travel to the Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho. From downtown Wallace travel 1.5 miles out of town on King Street/NF-456 to the Pulaski Tunnel Interpretive Trail, the site where Ed Pulaski found his crew of 45 men trapped and surrounded by the August 1910 wildfire that engulfed our region.
Pulaski’s quick-thinking decision to force his men (at gunpoint) into an abandoned mine tunnel in this location saved many lives. Six of Pulaski’s men did perish in the inferno, along with at least 79 others, the majority of whom were firefighters.
Several interpretive signs along the trail showcase the beauty of the area while highlighting the terrifying history of the spot. Pulaski’s legacy lives on in the tool he developed that bears his name.
The Pulaski is a versatile firefighting tool, but hopefully the tools will see more use this summer for trail maintenance on popular trails than on fire lines.
This hike can be considered easy to moderate and is 4 miles round trip with approximately 800 feet of elevation gain.