Bare Essentials

Photo from the midway point of the Waldo Canyon Trail, taken 3/17/12

As I write up this post on Monday morning the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs has consumed 3,600 acres, is at 0% containment, and has displaced more than 6,000 residents from their homes.

My family and I, thankfully, are still at home. It was a close call though, as we missed the mandatory evacuation zone by a half-mile. This was both good and bad news. The good being – obviously – that we didn’t have to pick up and move myself, my husband, my step-son, my roommate, and five cats as well as whatever worldly possessions we deemed essential. The bad news was, we were still really close to a fire that had the potential to change direction and come our way at a moment’s notice.

The fire started on Pyramid Mountain in Waldo Canyon (the site of one of my favorite hiking/running trails – a challenging mile and a half hike to a 3.5 mile loop and then back to the parking lot for close to seven miles of gorgeous scenery) about noonish on Saturday. Less than an hour later the evacuations began as the fire spread at an alarming rate thanks to the high temps, the dry forest, and the difficult terrain.

My roomie and I cut our errands short and headed back to the house just in case we ended up having to bug out. Then we spent the rest of the weekend keeping track of the fire on the internet and waiting. By nightfall you could see the glow of the flames behind the mountain.

Standing in the path of a forest fire is one of those things that makes you feel very small and insignificant. It also makes you evaluate the important things in life. In those early hours our focus was on getting ourselves and our animals out of danger as quickly and safely as possible if it became necessary. We are so lucky to have such good friends. My phone was going off constantly with messages/calls checking on us and offering us places to stay should it become necessary.

As the weekend wore on and the “essentials” had already been packed up, I caught myself wandering through the house and looking at things thinking: I should put that in the bag. Most of the time it was for stuff that was easily replaceable, and on the rare occasion it wasn’t I did actually put it into a bag or move it to a place where it was easily accessible. (The inevitable consequence of this is that our house is a total mess now.) The reality is though, because of the way we’ve chosen to live, there’s really not a lot of material things we can’t do without. All our photos are either digital to begin with or have been scanned into the computer so it’s as simple as grabbing the external hard drive and going.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t things I would cry over or that we’d make every effort to save what we could if we had the time. I’d just scored a patio set on clearance on Friday *laughs* and was pretty upset over the idea that I’d never get to use it.

More upsetting though is the thought of my beloved canyon trail. Waldo has been my training spot through two Tough Mudders, a Spartan race, and probably my absolute favorite choice for hiking. (I was even tempted to go up there Saturday morning, but choose sleep over running. Now part of me wishes I’d gotten one last run in there before it burned.) Now it’s ground zero for a fire that will hopefully be contained by the time you read this. It will recover, of course, the sad fact is these fires are a long time coming and not totally unexpected. It still hurts though, and I’m gearing up to help with whatever trail reconstruction will be necessary when the time comes.

Hopefully by the time you all get to read this, the fire will be contained and we’ll have gotten some rain to help out the firefighters. If you’re interested in donating, you can send contributions to the Red Cross or the Pikes Peak Human Society. Additionally, you can consider contacting Fire Rehab which is a support organization for emergency situations that provides firefighters with essential supplies like water and food.


9 responses to “Bare Essentials

  1. It is our fire season, here in Cyprus. It is the scariest season for me. My thoughts are with you all, as you endure such devastation around you, and live in fear of fire.

  2. Here’s sending out a message to the Rain gods for you, hon

  3. Jar O' Marbles

    *hugs* Hope the fire abates before more damage is done.

  4. Update –

    Unfortunately, between the time I sent this in to Kate and today … things in the Springs took a turn for the worse. Tuesday afternoon/evening the combination of heat and a fierce wind picked the fire up out of Queen’s Canyon and carried it over two fire containment lines into the populated area of Northwest Colorado Springs.

    At present the fire is 18,500 acres, somewhere between 200-300 homes have been lost. There have been no deaths and no injuries. 32,000+ people (myself and my family included) have been displaced.

    Some of the news coming out of the Springs is horrific and devastating. But too are the stories that just make you weep with gratitude. Our community has pulled together with amazing speed and such strength. I’m deeply proud of how we’ve all helped each other out and been willing to go to such lengths.

    Speaking of, I’d like to extend a HUGE thanks and love to our friends J & C who’ve opened their home not only to us but to five obnoxious cats. I know how distracting and disorganized it can be to have your home suddenly full of people, but they have been extremely gracious and I can’t ever thank them enough for being here for us through this. ❤

    Thanks also to all our friends who've been praying, doing magic, sending their love. It means a lot to us to know you all care so much. Thank you for everything.


  5. Oh, Katy, my heart aches for you, your family, and your community. May the rains come and may the fire be contained.

  6. I still get teary thinking of Waldo. I am ever grateful that I was able to get up there several times this year, as well as taking my kids and the neighbor kids (for the first and only trip up). But I am so sad that it’s gone for a while.

    I still keep thinking there’s a funny joke to be had with “So 5 adults, 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 6 cats walked into a bar….” 😀

    And of course you are ever welcome. I can’t imagine the fear and anxiety in having to leave your home, especially that first night. I am glad we’re able to be here to help in any way. ❤

  7. Sending big hugs and lots of love, and HUZZAH for J&C for taking you in. Calling for those gentle, soaking, healing rains. May they come soon.


  8. Oh Katy, you know we’ve got you in our thoughts, hearts, and our spells. All our love.

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