Lunchtime and Fires

A couple of snaps from a long day working on and hiking trail.  Longer than anyone expected, as the 7.5′ maps didn’t show quite a bit of trail detail (e.g., switchbacks) that we needed to know.

Once the fires started, the trail we were sent to work on, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), was closed to the public so that firefighters could move freely on it.  Not to mention, parts of the trail passed close to the rapidly growing fires.  Since that trail was closed, we shifted gears and tackled a few local trails that had been sorely neglected for quite a few years.

The first was the Long Gulch Trail.  Quite a bit of clearing brush and rebuilding trail that morning, but we were lucky enough to make it to Long Gulch Lake for lunch.  A few folks jumped into the water while most of us just enjoyed the scenery.  Those that swam regretted it later as the chafing set in on a long loop hike back to camp.

Long Gulch Lake

This is the view of the lake a couple of hours later as we worked the trail up to the ridge line.

Here is a map that some folks built of their three day hike of the same loop that we worked and covered in 10 hours.  But to be fair, we only worked the uphill portion of the Long Gulch Trail, then moved quickly through the rest of the loop to get back down into the valley.

Long Gulch Lakes Loop

We moved quickly through the hike portion once we reached the top of the Long Gulch Trail.  We received word from the Forest Service that we were not to dilly dally, as the Coffee Fire was just a few miles away and blowing up in the dry, hot, windy afternoon conditions.  We could see a bit of the smoke plume from the top of the summit, but had a chance to really get a look at it less than 1/2 mile later as we hiked under the south side of the ridge line.

Coffee Fire

The picture makes it look quite a bit further than it really was.

As we dropped down the switchbacks towards Trail Gulch Lake, we had a front row view of the helicopters dropping down over the lake and scooping up water to drop on the surrounding fires.  That made for a complete experience.

Over a week later, the Coffee Fire is still going, having burnt over 6,000 acres, but is 60% contained this morning.  However, our entire area is in a Red Flag Warning for the next 48 hours as another round of thunderstorms, with little rain, spread over the forests.

It’s just that time of year out west.

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