After the Fisher Fire….

My hike this past Sunday was in the Coconino National Forest just south and east of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Forest of Walnut Canyon Arizona

The trail-head was 128 miles and about 90 minutes from my doorstep in north Phoenix…which is quite a change from my former hiking environment in the Salt Lake Valley…the Wasatch Mountains, in general, and, as pictured below, Little Cottonwood Canyon, in specific (among other places).  You might remember me mentioning a couple of times in the past that I could be to the nearest trail-head in the time that it took me to drink a cup of coffee.

Forest of Little Cottonwood Canyon Utah

Ah, well…those are memories now…and where I live in this present stage of my life situates me, like I said, 128 miles away from this particular trail…yes, there are closer trails…and yes, most/many/lots of them are found in and among the desert “mountains”…with nary a bit of shade…and temperatures that soar up into the “hundred-and-some-teen” degree range (100 – 119 or higher)…so I drive north to the mountains.

At any rate, I hiked the particular trail that leads from Marshall Lake to Lewis Point…a 13.8 mile round-trip excursion through a Ponderosa Pine forest, down into what I understand to be part of Walnut Canyon, to the limestone prominence and canyon over-look of Lewis Point, and then back to the starting point.

This was a new forest and a new trail for me…a new experience, essentially.  Another part of the newness was hiking through a forest where a wildfire had raged only three months ago.  I’ve driven past locations along the freeways or highways that had been burned over the years and had hiked among the charred skeletons of scrub-oak trees that had been burned in many seasons passed, but I’ve never had the incredibly intimate and awe-inspiring experience of walking through a forest that had been so recently in flames.  To add to the eeriness of the situation, there was visible and “smell-able” smoke in the canyon from controlled burning that the forest service was conducting many miles south.

Please remember that you can click on any image in the gallery to be taken to a slide-show where you can view the photos in a larger format.

If you’d like more information about the Fisher Fire, you can check-out this link from April of this year…it has another link to the Coconino National Forest’s Flicker account which shares images of their more recent (and historical) fire-fighting efforts, as well as many others that show the beauty of this northern Arizona national forest.

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24 responses

  1. Walking through a burned area is a real eye-opener, isn’t it? Amazing what burns and what survives and how quickly the colonizer plants re-start green spots.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    • There was so much to see, Terry…I could have spent hours there exploring and looking more closely at the detail…but yes, it was amazing…all of it.

      July 29, 2014 at 9:54 am

  2. Fascinating, and surprisingly beautiful.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:34 pm

  3. Amazing to see so much green returning after only three months. It’s rather encouraging in a way.

    July 25, 2014 at 2:07 am

    • Very encouraging, Gunta…and the new growth was so strikingly green against the black ash….

      July 29, 2014 at 9:56 am

  4. I’ve walked in a few forests in Florida after they have done a large controlled burn. It is an eerie feeling. The forest is so silent and still. You will have to start taking longer to drink your coffee, that way 90 minutes won’t seem so far.

    July 25, 2014 at 2:31 am

    • I’m not sure what to think about the controlled burning thing…have heard good and bad about both sides of the argument…but I can imagine what you encountered in those Florida forests…the eerie quiet and silence…. Coffee or not, Laura, that 90 minutes feels kinda long to get to a trail-head…but I suppose it’s better than three or more hours….. ;)

      August 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

  5. I’ve seen forest fires in England and they are scary, so you were brave to enter what could potentially have been total desolation, so it’s remarkable to see the forest regenerating itself….one wonders about the wildlife though.

    128 miles in 90 minutes would seem to be 85 miles an hour…….you sure were eager to get to that forest…. :-)

    July 25, 2014 at 4:53 am

    • It is remarkable to see the forest regenerating itself, John…after I determined what had happened and how recent it must have been, I was rather surprised at how much green there was already. Before I had researched the fire area, I had considered that it must have occurred within the past year…it was a further surprise that it had happened only three months ago.

      And yes, it seems that I was a little off in my calculations of time and distance…it was most certainly 128 miles from the house to the trail-head, but I offered the time as being how long it took to simply get to Flagstaff and not to the trail-head itself…which was likely more than another 30 minutes or so…. Thank you for catching that!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:55 am

  6. It’s tough to see but meant to be. Forest fires were once a common and valuable part of nature.

    July 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

    • Yep…cleansing and restorative…..

      August 5, 2014 at 7:28 am

  7. There is a strange beauty about those trees – un-defeated by the fire, still standing tall.

    July 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

  8. Fascinating and yes, a bit eerie. Will be so interesting to watch the forest come back to life now.

    July 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    • I found it incredible how green it actually was already, Susan…very promising.

      August 5, 2014 at 7:29 am

  9. Sad and fascinating.

    July 28, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    • Yes, both of those, Candace.

      August 5, 2014 at 7:30 am

  10. Fascinating photos Scott!

    July 31, 2014 at 8:41 am

    • Thank you, Adrian.

      August 5, 2014 at 7:30 am

  11. It must have been really interesting, hiking where the fires had so recently done their work. The photos of that are interesting too – the last one especially. I can certainly understand the need to drive an hour and a half for shade!

    August 6, 2014 at 9:47 am

    • I think I could have spent hours in this spot, alone, Lynn….yes, me by myself, but alone, too, as in no other spot, just here. There was so much more to see…so many places where life had endured despite the devastation of the heat and flames.

      Yes…we must have occasional and significant shade when hiking!! It will be another few months before it’s tolerable to go hiking down here in the desert…to my alpine-loving internal thermostat, anyway. :)

      August 12, 2014 at 9:16 pm

  12. I happened to catch your comment about the Wasatch over at Lenscapers, and came to visit. I lived in Salt Lake City for a time, back in the late 70s, and Little Cottonwood Canyon was a favorite. White Pine Lake, too. I do miss the area. The Texas Gulf Coast is lovely, and I’ve become a Texan mostly through and through, but if someone were to offer me a chance to go back to the Wasatch, I’d think long and hard.

    Your fire photos are interesting, too. We had terrible fires here during the drought, especially the Bastrop fire, which nearly wiped out the only stand of loblolly pine we have. There’s been a real effort to replant, and natural regeneration is taking place, too.

    August 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    • Hello, Linda…how nice that you’ve come visiting from Andy’s place at Lenscapers. I’m sure there have been quite a few changes in the local scenery since you were last in the Wasatch if you’ve not been there since the 70s…and I’d guess that the trails up Little Cottonwood Canyon and to White Pine Lake have gotten more than a little crowded, as well. I left the area almost three months ago and I’ve had some pretty serious heartache with being away from those mountains. I have images from my hikes flash into my mind when I’m working or doing some other focused activity…..and were it not for family, I’d still be up there…or going back.

      It’s been several years since I’ve been anywhere near your Texas Gulf Coast…but I think I’ve heard something about hurricanes visiting you more often than I’d like.

      I just Googled your Bastrop Fire…wow! And that stand of loblolly pines that you mentioned is believed to have originated around 2.5 million years ago. Goodness! I hope it’s able to come back strong enough to withstand whatever else might come its way…..

      August 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

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