Yesterday, I was overcome with the feeling I HAD to see the arroyo that I fell so in love with this time last year... the one that burned in the Station Fire. Kat and I have hiked up the trail a few times since the fire but the trail has "no entry" signs posted just where the trail gets good and interesting. From that vantage, we knew the ranger homes had been saved but that meant the trail with it's rocky vantage points along the stream bed had surely burned.
I left Mabel Lou at home thinking that if I were alone, maybe I could slip past the ranger homes and onto the trail. I planned to ask Kat and Linguini to wait there for me to slip in and take some photos. But, as we approached the trail closure, we encountered a quarter of caballeros coming out of the trail and we could see more hikers up ahead.
So off we all went. We barely made it to the ranger houses before we found fire damage. Downstream, we had noticed flood damage - sections of fence missing; the creek bed moved - but we didn't give it much thought.
Upstream, it was clear that all the flood damage had been caused by the fire. There is a ravine just before the ranger homes that, prior to the fire, was barely noticeable. But now with the mountain up above burned, there was nothing left to prevent dirt and debris from washing down, completely washing out the ravine and revealing the underground pipes put in place to prevent just such a flood. And just as quickly, a new trail, trod by many was revealed and on we went.
The road beside the homes was covered in debris and just beyond, the road WAS the stream. The stream bed had shifted at good 30 feet to the east, probably due to all the ash, soot and burnt logs that had settled in the original stream. We had to hug the mountain base to maneuver around the new stream.
And finally we were at our destination. It was almost like attending a funeral for an old friend. While it only burnt in spots, so much junk has washed down from the fire raped mountains that all our lovely rocks were buried. Many of the trees that rested across the stream were...gone. And the canyon, so dark, it was hard to imagine it will ever be the same.