by Charlene Paul
It was a beautiful morning on the mountain in Brian Head on June 17. Summer was well under way and plans for the many activities were being put into place. Winter is really Brian Head’s season. That’s when ski bums and snow-seekers flock to the peak to ski, build snowmen, sled, snowmobile, and drink hot chocolate by a crackling fire. But summer on the mountain is glorious. Temperatures are mild, the sky is crystal blue, and the smell of the pines is intoxicating. Hiking, biking, fishing, exploring, and taking in the sights along Utah’s Patchwork Parkway, Scenic Byway 143 await those who venture beyond their city borders.
June 17 would prove to be a historical day for the mountain as a fire ignited and began to spread through the fields and trees. What began as a small flame quickly grew into an enormous wildfire consuming tens of thousands of acres and taking out everything in its path. Ground personnel quickly mobilized and firefighters from far and near donned their gear and walked into the maw of the raging inferno. Hot temperatures and high winds fanned the flames and made the work grueling. Townspeople gathered in support of those putting their lives on the line to bring the fire under control. Homes and cabins were lost, livestock was relocated, and roads were closed. Those dedicated men and women never stopped in their quest to quench the flames and bring peace one again to the mountain. What we thought would always be there, was rapidly changing.
But the mountain, like the people who call it home, is resilient and will rebound from this fiery calamity. Although some parts of the mountain will be forever altered, hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, camping, and exploring still await those who take the time to escape the confines of the city.
For those who have spent their lives coming to the mountain, and whose recollections of the mountain shape their memories, new memories are waiting to be had. Stories of how it was mingled with stories of how it is will be passed down from this generation to the next. And those stories will ensure that upcoming generations develop a healthy love and respect for nature’s gifts. It is true that the mountain has changed, but it still stands in all its glory and majesty inviting residents and visitors alike to come and share in its offerings.
June 17 will always be remembered as the day the mountain was forever changed. But it will also be remembered as the day people from all walks of life, locals and non-natives, banded together to save our beloved mountain from utter destruction and disaster.
It is a beautiful day on the mountain in Brian Head and other places in the region. Summer is drawing to a close, and the cool days of fall are upon us. Why not take a drive up Scenic Byway 143 and begin making new memories? The mountain awaits. You won’t be disappointed.