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High Hopes, Low Expectations - Aftermath #1

Note: Several places in this story are redacted. If you recognize any of the places shown in the photos, please help to keep them special by not mentioning their names or locations.

Feb 2022: I've taken this post down while I work on some edits.

The Whole Story

 

11 Comments

  1. Jupp Mueller
    Jupp Mueller October 15, 2021

    Hey Dan, thanks for the trip report. As a recent immigrant to California, I began educating myself about the topic of wildfires. One aspect that I find remarkable but that is rarely mentioned in debates about the issue is that prehistoric levels of wildfires before firefighting interventions of western civilizations were likely multiple times higher than what we experience today in a "bad" fire year.

    Estimates prehistoric fire areas [1] are between 4,484,009 and 11,955,682 acres annually. Smoke-filled skies have been a part of California even before humans settled here. As you said, proper forest management (including prescribed burns) seems to be the way forward. There are a multitude of reasons for fighting climate change, but blaming the pure magnitude of fire seasons on it is a little disingenuous I think.

    [1] https://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/Resources/Conservation/FireForestEcology/FireScienceResearch/FireHistory/FireHistory-Stephens07.pdf

    • turbodb
      turbodb October 15, 2021

      Hey Jupp, Glad you enjoyed the trip report, and thanks for weighing in. I haven't read through the PDF you linked yet, but it's certainly interesting to take into account when considering fire sizes today, so I'm going to spend some time reading through it this evening. I agree with you that prehistoric burns are rarely (I've never heard anything at all) mentioned. As for blaming the pure magnitude of fire seasons on climate change, and that being disingenuous - I don't believe I blamed the magnitude on climate change. In fact, I never used the term in the story at all. Rather, I said that drought was a contributing factor to size - which it surely is, as are beetles (dead wood) and our building of dwellings (that we feel must be protected).

      Regardless of prehistoric fire sizes, those things are surely contributors today. And, while I don't know that we should get into a whole discussion about the reality (or not) of climate change (full disclosure, I think it is a real thing), my main point for this story is that the last couple years have been tough ones on areas of the California forests that were special to me. I was simply trying to give some context that could have contributed to those tough years.

      Hope that makes sense!

  2. Joe
    Joe October 15, 2021

    I visited this place in July so I could finally find the lost knife and the tip of the spear you had mentioned in your previous trip reports. A family with young kids had already claimed "your Dad's site" when I got there. I saw them enjoying the swimming hole on my way up the ridge. The water level at the time was a bit higher compared to your pictures, but seemed lower compared to my previous visits... I also noticed the color of the creek and some algae build up that made it less appealing than before. The conditions in the area as I made my way up the ridge looked practically the same as the photos you posted. Looking at your pictures literally brings me back to that day. Still shocked and saddened at the amount of destruction cause by the fires...

    • turbodb
      turbodb October 24, 2021

      Hi Joe, Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm surprised you were able to get to the site in July - it was my understanding that the area was closed at that point, but I certainly could have misunderstood. It will be a while before the area recovers, obviously, but it's all part of the cycle I suppose. Thanks for keeping references vague and the place "a little less known," I appreciate it. 👍

  3. Jeannie
    Jeannie October 16, 2021

    Being a tree-hugger, it was hard to see that beautiful tree laying in a burned heap on the ground where you had previously taken a great photo of your Pop. Brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for the update on how bad/ and not-so-bad it has been thus far. Our beautiful, impressive, georgeous, west coast is losing so much and it's heart-breaking hearing the news of it daily. Hang in there Turbo.......keep on keeping on.....I need to see all I can while I can.....living thru your great adventures here at home masking up and trying to stay safe , but enjoying the days thru your trips doing what I love most. thx

  4. Yaniv
    Yaniv October 17, 2021

    It's hard for me to understand why the US government can't spare funds to start planting lightning-catching poles, grounding them to the earth.

    It won't prevent wildfires completely but can reduce them by a lot.

    Covering all forests is probably impossible but with some weather statistics, the government can target areas with great risk for lightning fire.

    • turbodb
      turbodb October 17, 2021

      Thanks for the comment Yaniv, I hope you enjoyed the story, even in its "painfulness."

      Your comment got me thinking - as I'd never heard of installing lightning rods in the forest to prevent fires. After some reflection, I'm not sure that fighting nature is the right path forward. Already, the forests are not healthy in many situations (as I've touched on at the beginning of the story) due to excessive amounts of dead wood - both standing and fallen. For all their destruction, fires also do a lot of good to forests - in addition to cleaning out much of the dead wood and fertilizing the soil, certain flora even rely on fires for propagation - and have been around just as long as the forests have been.

      Perhaps there is some way of both preventing fires and maintaining healthy natural environments, but simply preventing fires isn't - in my opinion - the way to do it. And, the forest stewardship is probably orders of magnitude more expensive than the lightning poles.

      I'm sure that there are ways that US government money could be better spent than it is today, but - again in my opinion - this isn't it. There are a lot of people - both in the US and the world at large - that need help in one way or another. That are starving or homeless or living in conditions that those of us talking about the aftermath of forest fires likely don't have to deal with. They might be better recipients of the funds in many cases.

      Anyway, just my thoughts for now. I hope you continue to enjoy and I always appreciate the comments!

  5. Verlan Stephens
    Verlan Stephens October 18, 2021

    I often think about the recreational value of these areas and how they influence people. I live in Colorado and the Cameron Peak fire destroyed a large area that my family had enjoyed for four generations. I'm saddened by the fact that my grandchildren will not have the same enjoyment of these areas for many years to come.
    I agree that better forest management and the clearing of dead and diseased trees is key to helping preserve our forests. My grandfather was a career forest ranger and worked in the 1940s in Colorado to mitigate the beatle kill damage to our forests. We need to work to fund the protection of our forests.

  6. Keith
    Keith November 4, 2021

    Thats such a bummer! I found your camp earlier this summer on google it def took me some time. I still look forward to heading up there but what a bummer to see it all burnt. The dixie fire is my back yard and pains me to see it the way it is now.

  7. John F.
    John F. January 29, 2022

    Hey Dan, your dad alerted me to this posting when he recently sent me his journal from the same trip. I read both his notes and your account with a mixture of sadness and joy. Thank you for this wonderful description and the fantastic photos. Of course I recognize every scene and am intimately acquainted with every step and turn you wrote about. So glad to learn of the relative intact nature of the campsite and Lost Knife Knoll. Tears came with the sight of the burned Juniper at the turning point, joy with seeing the "lunch" tree on the knoll, and other trees I know so well around the campsite.
    I hope that I may be able to join you again as "dad's buddy" on a trip up there before too long.
    Cheers!

    • turbodb
      turbodb February 1, 2022

      Hi John! (sorry for the slow reply, I've been down in Death Valley for the last 5 days!) Glad you got by to read the story, I'd assumed that dad sent it to you when I'd originally posted it. Of course, I know all the feelings you mention as I have the same even as I re-read it this evening. Pretty cool place, and I think it'd be awesome to see you there again any time!

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