Friday, August 10, 2018


It is a little early for fire season in Southern California. I know. I was born in Southern California, and thus have 53 years experience. I have seen many seasons of fires and landslides. The destruction can be immense, it often brutally takes homes and lives. Gosh, there was one year back in the early 1990s when after a particularly tough fire season (hundreds of homes lost in Laguna Beach and elsewhere), we got it bad again when the rains came with landslides that destroyed more homes locally, and killed a few people as well. Usually, our peak of the fire season comes around October, occasionally September. Though, we can have fires any time of the year. And we do indeed.

Yearly fire stats for California (from Wikipedia for the last 18 years):

yearly stats

This past Monday, a fire broke out around my stomping grounds in Trabuco Canyon. The news media first called it the Holy Jim Canyon Fire, which was quickly renamed the Holy Fire (#HolyFire). Best I can tell however, Holy Jim Canyon was not the canyon that took the terrible destruction of the fire (yet). The fire seems to have originated somewhere near the Holy Jim Canyon parking lot. From there it travelled up Trabuco Canyon (not Holy Jim Canyon). The fire continued all the way up Trabuco to the Main Divide, and also travelled up West Horsethief (which I have written about many times in my blog).


This is the Trabuco Canyon Trail that I have experienced (Ah, lovely!):

trabuco canyon

trabuco trail

Gosh, the boundaries of the fire are enormous now. The fire has travelled all along the canyons in and around The Main Divide, nearly to Santiago Peak, and in the opposite direction to Los Pinos Trail (perhaps peak). From there it has also traveled down into Corona and Lake Elsinore (of course taking Indian Truck Trail along with it). Tonight, Friday night, the fire still burns. This morning, the number of acres neared 20,000, with I believe 5% contained.

As far as I can tell, the fire has not touched Holy Jim Trail. But the fire has burned Upper Holy Jim, which is a shrubbery forest of Manzanita (or was, rather). Of course, the social media world that I mainly identify with (trail runners, hikers, off-roaders by any means) are in a sad panic. We all know that we will never have it like it was – ever again – on those trails. It will grow back yes, but it will be different. And because I know that it will never be like it was again, I have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I’m very grateful that I got to spend countless miles and hours on the beautiful trails that #HolyFire has ravished. But I am also confident that those trails will turn beautiful again. It will be a different beautiful, and it will take some time. That is nature.

When a fire attacked Wood Canyon earlier this year, I couldn’t help but feel terribly sad. This time around, with fire attacking lands even more meaningful to me than the coastal hills, all I can feel is gratitude. Any sadness that I feel now is sadness for the 12 households that lost their rustic mountain cabins and possibly all of their belongings in Trabuco Canyon. At the same time that I feel this gratitude, I suppose as a defense mechanism, I’m glancing around the corner looking forward to the regrowth, the rebirth.

Fire is horrible, it is horrifying. Yet, it warms us, it keeps us alive, it is strikingly beautiful. Fire is a destruction that brings with it, a rebirth. I find that considerably odd. I should note that an arsonist, it appears may have started this fire. So terrible! I want to also state that this fire would have eventually happened -- a piece of glass in the dry vegetation, a spark from a car, lightning . . .  Fire is nature. It happens with our without us. It is sad that the state of California does not come up with a comprehensive plan to attack the natural disaster that occurs to us most often. I have big problem with how the “wild” lands are managed. But that’s for another post that I will most likely never post because land management seems to be a political topic, and that is not my intent.

Hopefully, the weather will turn, and the firefighters will gain the upper hand on #HolyFire.

From before (why I am grateful):

Prancing down West Horsethief in a skirt (Twin Peaks Ultra):taken-by-greg-h4Chomping my gum while marching up West Horsethief:chomping gumAfraid that I’m going to fall while running down a rocky West Horsethief:afraidHow I love thee:trailheadtop of westwest horsethiefanother w htAnd just a few more from West Horsethief:restingwhtht2

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