Friday, March 15, 2013

Fire and Ice

Last weekend I missed a USDAA trial that I was really really looking forward to.  But with predictions of 10-15" of snow and 50 mph winds, blizzard conditions down in Castle Rock/Douglas County where the trial was being held I decided to stay home.  The storm wasn't so bad in Boulder and the roads in general were fine for driving on Saturday morning but I'd have to spend the night down in Castle Rock, drive 4 miles to get to the hotel as well as drive around to get food and I didn't feel like driving around in a blizzard.  The next morning was sunny but cold and the roads had iced over so I didn't want to drive 60 miles on a skating rink.  We ended up having a good weekend, went out in the snow plenty, but I was still disappointed at missing the trial.

Fast forward to this Friday and temps. were predicted to hit the 70's so Jonny and I decided to take the afternoon off and head up to Lory State Park for an early season bike ride.  The day started off nicely enough, a typical sunny blue sky day in the Soderburg Open Space parking lot.  I figured I'd have lots of nice, uneventful blue sky/red rock photos to post.

We climbed the small hill up from the parking lot to the trail where the view opened up to this.

And I knew right away it could be nothing else but a wildfire.  Sure enough the smoke got thicker and darker the closer we got to Lory.

And the view at the entrance to the park?  Crap.

Still it was hard to say where the fire was.  The winds were very strong, 35 mph or so, and smoke carries a long way in winds like that.  The fire could have been well north of the park for all we knew.  We kept going for about a mile or so into the park, turned a corner and saw this.

It's hard to tell from the photo but the line of flames extends down to the right for as long as I could see.  At that point the ranger was turning people around but I didn't need a ranger to tell me to turn tail.  My general rule of thumb is that if I can see flames I'm too close.  I snapped 2 photos and skedadled back to the car.  Thankfully I had the wind at my back and mostly downhill so even though the fire was moving quickly in the strong winds I was never in any serious danger.

There were no firefighters and the rangers still hadn't closed the trails so we had no way of knowing how close we were.  The rangers did close the trails as we were leaving and we had to hoist our bike over several crime scene tape closures to get back to the car.  We probably could have ridden on the Blue Sky trail further to the south but my legs were a bit shaky at that point and the ranger told us we could but strongly advised against it.  So once again denied by the weather.

The fire is at 800 acres and no containment as of about 5:00 this evening.  The winds are too strong to bring in air support.  Scary to think what July is going to be like.

1 comment:

  1. I can't quite imagine what it would be like to just happen upon a fire like that, but it seems over there it's a fairly regular occurrence. Scary stuff.