Today it is hard to spot the mountain tops through a thick haze of smoke, and with my compromised sight comes a pounding sinus headache and the impossibility of a breath of fresh air. It comes in the aftermath of a lost winter and a long gone snowpack, meanly followed by record heat, desiccating winds, and no rain. Even the mighty river struggles to survive, waiting to collect and shunt the non-existent waters towards the beckoning sea.
The news of late is filled with the horrors of wildfires, let loose like caged lions upon the skeletons of beetle killed and kiln dried forests, on the edges of mountain subdivisions and the homes of good mountain folk. Fire rages near Ft. Collins, Colorado, among the canyons and timbered ridges I hiked and hunted during my college days.
The High Park Fire will go down in history as the state’s most destructive wildfire. Or it would have, until a few moments ago, when it was surpassed by an even more terrible conflagration known as the Waldo Creek Fire in Colorado Springs. Both fires, and others, will continue to burn through more dangerous days ahead. Only time will tell how much more epic and destructive they will become.
The cause of our smoke and discomfort is a new fire northeast of Grand Junction, and about 50 miles or less to our west. It was caused by a random and uncaring lightning strike, like others that will surely follow. The chance of it reaching this far is most probably remote, but it will no doubt affect us for weeks to come. We hear the helicopters overhead, and they are already mobilizing to evacuate the towns nearest to the fire.
At times like these one can only stand in awe before the powers and vagaries of nature. Our needs and desires pale to nothingness before the will of a mountain fire and the infernal, scorching winds. Just ask of those who had only time to grab a few small things as they fled before the great red wall. They can testify, without doubt, that nature will have her way. It is the way it has always been, and will always be, whether we admit it or not.
Our heart goes out to those who have lost their homes, or god forbid, their loved ones. We wish them Godspeed in their recoveries, and best travels in the twisted and unpredictable journey of life.
For our part, we can only take refuge in the knowledge that we have prepared for this type of disaster as best we could, as have all preppers and common sense people. We have read the signs, and the handwriting is heavy upon the land.
It is the spark of life inside us that drives us, more powerfully than any external spark from without. We shall hold on. Preparation is a state of mind and the natural thing to do, well within the small part we play in our uncertain fates on earth.