High Park Wildfire 2

{view from our Horsetooth Reservoir campsite last Tuesday evening looking towards the east bank}

{picture taken by onlooker standing on the east side of the reservoir as the High Park Fire approaches the west where we stood less than a week before} (found here)

Today to write about anything else seems impossible.  The High Park Wildfire has consumed the mountains west of Fort Collins, mountains that I, like all who call this part of Northern Colorado home, take great pride. The beauty and uniqueness of our geological surroundings, have always felt to be a gift, a presence of something more wonderful and more powerful, yet incredibly stable and simple, which offers itself to you with each sunset and every sunrise.

Last night Bill and I walked to City Park around midnight with Rock and sat on the top on the same hill from where I took pictures on Saturday (here) and watched as flames visibly creeped over the hills to the west of town where Lory State Park lies.  The points of orange light grew, and even from our distance you could see how the flames fed on the earth, glowing and undulating close to the ground then exploding into pockets of bright yellowy orange, knowing this was where the flames picked up momentum, as the spots of light move closer together to form one scar of fire on the hillside.   We could only watch for so long it being so late, and the smoke settling so heavy in town.  It was an unnerving and surreal image.  This morning the smoke is so thick you can’t see the foothills at all.  I can’t decide which made me more uncomfortable and disturbed.

I can only think of the love I have for our winding, wooded canyons, with spectacular views of snow peaked mountains, and picturesque horse farms that lay along back country roads which lead toward the deep, rocky cut that runs east, the Poudre River, flowing quickly and aggressively over large boulders and around sharp bends.  Here, where trails were explored, campsites discovered, memories made while seated in lopsided inner tubes that were questionable at best when headed into a clustered of exposed low water rapids, I have always felt connected.  As a military brat I think there were many times this was a hard feeling to achieve, and something I maybe craved without even being aware of its importance.  Fort Collins, and the mountains I feel just as at home in, have in many ways shaped who I am and how I view life.  The appreciation I carry with me for this is great, and I feel honored to have been given so much, for so little in return.

And all this is not gone, just marred and charred under the severe stress of Mother Nature and an awfully hot and parched landscape.  Currently I feel like I’m mourning the loss of pieces to something I love dearly, and though I know in time nature will rejuvenate itself, the mass amounts of lives and homes that found comfort and solitude here, may not.   I feel selfish for mourning at all when so many families and individual’s have lost more than I can begin to imagine.  But this is our home and I share the pain with my neighbors.    Currently the fire burns on, I can hear helicopters and air support through our cracked window, reminding me of the hundreds that are offering themselves to fight this fire and save our communities with every resource available.   I hope that the worst is over, and I hope the wind and heat don’t make firefighters’ already daunting task more impossible.

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2 thoughts on “High Park Wildfire 2

  1. An excellent post Kimberly,

    As a CSU grad I have been keeping an eye on the news and wish the best for everyone in the area. Unfortunately, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that this fire was predicted twenty years ago.

    That forest west and northwest of Ft. Collins was decimated by a bark beetle infestation in the 80’s and early 90’s. The proper management for such an infestation is to harvest; removing the dead trees so the beetles had no staging ground and to reduce fuel loads, and to thin out the living trees so that they could be stronger and defend themselves better. However, because of the political environment, no one had the courage to harvest in such heavily used recreation area. As a forestry student I remember it being a constant topic of discussion, and I even remember articles in the newspapers (I don’t remember which; RMN and Coloradoan were papers I read regularly) where forest managers said quite plainly, that if nothing was done about the beetle infestation, one day, when the conditions were right, a fire was going to burn from Loveland to Casper, Wyo. and nothing and no one would be able to stop it.

    But this is all claptrap secondary to the well being of people today. I hope everyone stays safe and rains come soon enough.

    Take care,
    Craig

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