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.