A few miles outside the tourist town of Winthrop, Washington, the road we were taking to visit a ghost town devolved into a rutted track. Soon we were in a ghost forest instead.
It took five miles, surrounded by towering peaks of blackened trunks, to reach the road's end--the site of a former campground, the epicenter for the "Thirty Mile Fire" in 2001. Along the way was a shrine, half hidden in fireweed and sage slowly coming back to life, to four young flamejumpers who had been trapped by the blaze.
The Chewuch River was still very much alive, flowing through the dessicated veins of its bed.