[this post inadvertently got published as ‘Glenn F Cowan’ when I was using the short post creator tool here – sorry for the mix-up!]
[post updated 8/26/12]
Have been reading Montucky’s recent posts that document a wildfire in a range he knows well, entitled “Little Thomson Peak 1-4.” Reading how a trail he used to use was “all but completely obscured by the fire” reminded me of wildfires in areas I have known. It inspired me to share a mountane I knew in younger days that was hit by fire 10 years ago. The Hayman Fire, in Pike National Forest southwest of Denver, burned 113K+ acres in the wilderness area known as “Lost Creek.” I backpacked to a particular spot on the Lost Creek 3 times from 1974-1980. We saw Mountain Sheep there that first trip in 1974, backpacking with Lynn and Gary. We tried our hands at fishing in 1980, backpacking with Jill, Greg and John. And the 3rd time, in between and kind of a faint memory, we found an exhilarating waterfall.
At the time of the Hayman Fire in summer of 2002, living 400 miles away, all I could do was imagine what was happening to such a beautiful area. That summer I spent a tile week with Carolyn Barford at Ghost Ranch and created this tile from my memory of the area:
I was remembering this area this past winter and found this photo on the Wikipedia page for Pike National Forest:
“A picture of the Pike National Forest taken from the trail to the Devil’s Head Lookout in Colorado. Tall tree is Picea engelmannii, with Pinus flexilis right of it, and Populus tremuloides left of it.” photo and description by Glenn F Cowan via Wikipedia
Glenn F Cowan’s shot shows no burned trees. When I saw this, even though it is not the same view I had from the Lost Creek drainage, I was elated. The forest was still alive in the vicinity of my visits. I remember searching the internet for more photos to see if I could find the exact location of the fire – I could not. But saw the more recent fire in the same area and how close it was to a friend’s childhood home. Memories flooded back of that area, too. How many generations does it take for a ravaged forest to regenerate?
Last summer’s (2011) Las Conchas Fire in the Jemez mountains (40 m. NW of ABQ) devastated over 156K acres. When we drove through the ancient volcanic caldera (called the Valle Grande) in those mountains last October, a major portion of the eastern rim was burned. (for photos go here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/swa-fires-2011/page2/ )
Burns are important to forest and tree health. But wildfires these days occur on lands that have been protected since the movement in 1911 (?) to put them all out. So when they burn, they devastate. Luckily forest policy has changed in the last 20 years, and prescribed burns in areas not close to human habitation will help those areas avoid future ravaging.
I am joining in with Montucky’s spirit to honor special places.