Posted by: Marie | October 4, 2013

(870) Ashes falling like snow

Post #870
[Private journal entry written on Sunday, June 17, 2012]

Today, Mom and I spent the day together . . .

We met at her church for the 9am service. Of course, the sermon was about fathers since it is Father’s Day. Usually, I can find some little nugget of wisdom in a sermon that makes it worth the sitting-through despite the fact I’m not a Christian. However, that was not the case today . . . and that made the sitting-through-it rather annoying.

Oh, well. The fact I spent that time doing something with my mom she enjoys is what matters most . . .

Before heading into the mountains, we consulted the latest map of the High Park Fire . . . we decided the best direction to head was more towards the middle of the Colorado mountain range since the fire and heavy smoke were more on the north end of the range.

We headed into Rocky Mountain National Park and caught a back road – a dirt road – that travels up the mountain via hairpin turns and comes out on the backside of the visitors center. It is a very narrow road . . . one lane, one way . . . the turns aren’t too tough with a car, but I wouldn’t want to try it with a longer vehicle . . . if you happen to go into the turn wrong and can’t make the curve, you then have back up and try a different angle. There are no guardrails or shoulders, just sheer 1,000-foot drop-offs down the side of the mountain . . . and not much buffer if you happen to misjudge where the edge is . . .

(215)

Photo by Martin Chen

I wasn’t super sure that it was a road my little non-4WD car could handle, but I saw other similar cars turning onto the road . . . and no one was coming back down the wrong way . . . so, I figured it must be do-able . . .

Mom was a little bit scared and she kept asking me if I was sure that I wanted to keep going . . . I told her I’d keep going as long as we could . . . I kept telling her I believed we would be fine . . .

And, we made it just fine . . . as soon as we came out at the visitors center, I remembered having driven this same road before, several years ago . . .

I enjoyed the challenge the road provided . . . I’ve taken that little car through some pretty tough terrain . . . one time, when I was looking to buy some mountain property, I invited a lady I didn’t know but who was also looking for similar property to go with me in my little car (a Saturn sedan) . . . we took off across pastures . . . a few times we got high-centered on sagebrush and had to jack up the car and take an ax to the brush . . . and then one time we got to a place where the center of the road had washed out to a gulley (parallel to the tire tracks) about three feet deep and three feet wide (more in some places) . . . she walked in front of the car to guide me as I straddled the gulley for about 1/10 of a mile. Had I turned to the left or right a few inches, my tires on one side would had slide down into the gulley and we would have been in a world of hurt . . . it would have been quite a hike out of there.

Then, it started raining on us and the “road” (I use that term generously) got slick . . . I wasn’t sure we were going to get back out of there until the road dried out, which could easily be the next day. I wasn’t worried about it . . . it was summer, so we weren’t going to freeze . . . I had a sleeping bag and some blankets . . . food, water . . . toilet paper . . . it would have been no big deal.

As it turned out, the rain stopped pretty quickly and we found our way out within a couple of hours . . . as we were passing through, then locking up, the last barbed wire gate before returning to the highway, the owners of the property happen to be driving by and they stopped to check on us . . .

They had been debating if they could drive their high-clearance 4WD pick-up truck through the “road” we had just traveled . . . they needed to do a cattle drive . . . they were trying to figure out if they would have to use only horses or if they could also use the truck . . .

They kept asking me, “You drove your car across that pasture? On the road that starts over on County Road #12 and comes down the hill? Really?”

It took me a few minutes to convince them we really had . . . and they just kept shaking their heads . . .

As they parted, they mentioned they were pretty sure that, if my car could make it, their truck would easily make it . . . LOL.

By the way, I invited that lady to join me again the next day, but she never showed up . . . I don’t understand why not, LOL . . .

But, I digress . . . back to my adventures my mom and I had today . . .

It was a very nice, relaxing day . . . we saw elk and deer, but no moose . . .

As we were working our way back down the mountain, we traveled through Big Thompson Canyon. As we got to the bottom of the canyon and our views of the landscape opened up, we started noticing heavy smoke in the sky . . . why was there so much smoke that far south? That part of the fire was supposedly knocked down . . . did the fire move south again??

By the time we got closer to my mom’s house, the air had become so heavy with smoke and ash . . . the ash was floating onto the car almost like a gentle spring snow . . . the sun was glowing red through the dense smoke in the sky. As soon as we got back to my mom’s house, we turned on the news and learned that strong winds had stirred up the flames again at the south end of the burn area.

Well, I guess this fire really has turned into a monster . . . they aren’t letting people into their mountain houses yet because the risk that the fire will track back again over the same burn area is too great . . . people just have to stay in shelters or with friends and wait this thing out . . .

Phew.

Quotes 780


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