Saturday, May 7, 2016

Thirteen years later

I hike up a mountain that burned thirteen years ago.  The trail is steep, gaining 2700 feet of elevation in 2.5 miles, and whoever built it didn't believe in switchbacks.  It goes straight up.
View looking down to the valley
Before the fire, this ridge was forested, and the hike would have been shaded on a hot day.  Some of the tall trees still stand, but they have been dead for ten years, their trunks silver and waiting to fall like so many already have.

When a fire burns a forest, people often call it sad.  Those beautiful trees, they say.  And it's true, this mountain will not look the same in the lifetimes of the people who lived here thirteen years ago.  But nature seeks change.  The forest will burn, or succumb to disease and insects, or become so choked with undergrowth that animals can't move through it.  Nothing can stay the same.

This mountain is beautiful in a different way now.  Without the thick forest, you can see into the valley and across to the white peaks in the national park.  Wildflowers carpet the ridges.  Little trees are coming back, reaching enthusiastically toward the sun.  Even the dead trees are beautiful, standing in silent witness to the changing seasons.
Flowers along the trail. The peak is in the distance, with snow visible near the top.
News stories that show raging flames and blackened forests are only part of the story.  Reporters rarely come back.  If they did, they would see new life in places like this.  This mountain is alive with flowers and new growth.  It survived.
These steel poles are all that's left of a fire lookout that used to stand near the summit.  There is another lookout on the peak across the way.



10 comments:

  1. I think old burn areas have a special type of beauty. And they do open up the views.

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    1. Yes they do...I didn't worry about bears on this trail because I figured I could see them from a ways away if they were there.

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  2. Thanks for the perspective.....only those out in the mountains can see the transformation after fire. Love the wildflowers

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    1. There's so many flowers out up there right now.

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  3. You are such a good "observer" and writer.

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  4. What a neat blog post! Reminds us that good can come from the bad!!

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    1. Thanks. The old burn area really is beautiful right now.

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  5. Great post, thanks for sharing! If I remember correctly, I think I was on an engine with Darren and Jarod for the first day or two of that fire, if it's the fire I think it is... even if it's not, it still brings back memories from that year! I was too new to really appreciate it all at the time...

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    1. Haha, I asked Darren and he remembers that.

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