The West Fork, burned and already healing. New video here.

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The Forest Service opened the West Fork of the San Juan River yesterday with strict warnings of safety problems in the burned area. I posted the article and prepared for a hike.

See a new video of the West Fork fire here. Matt Johnson spins an epic tale of the beauty of Pagosa Country at first and then the fire explodes to life. Thanks Matt, this is awesome.

024On the way up the road one passes the small and delightful community near Borns Lake and…

025it is obvious fire mitigation is going on as piles of dry wood have been removed from the area near the cabins. A new surface for the road has also been installed.

015 copy500See the photo in expanded format here.

On the trail it is clear the fire burned down the drainage and to the edge of Borns Lake. The firefighters did an amazing job of stopping the fire before structures were involved.

004It ain’t pretty, but in a way it is still magnificent. There is a combination of fallen dead, standing dead and ash. Many trees didn’t burn but the fire baked them dry and are now dead. This area could easly burn again!

006 copy500It will take a monumental effort to clear and make the trail safe again.

009Amazingly, this huge spruce burned with little damage to the aspen nearby.

Look at the ground. Areas like this can be very dangerous as the fire smoulders underground burning roots and buried wood. Some areas have no support and a hiker can fall into a still burning pit.

 

 008Here the ground burned to the edge of the trail. Dakota cast a weary eye.

002One must be very careful along the trail as fallen trees cover the walkway. This one was splintered by huge forces but did not burn.

005Just beyond this point the trail becomes impassable without large effort climbing over and around fallen and charred trees with attendent danger.

010 copyRejoice, the meadows are lush and…

011there is plenty of evidence of wildlife still using the area.

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Abby and Kathy, your tree made it!

020After this hike on a humid day I felt like jumping in also.

Right now it is not safe to hike in more than a couple of miles. This is just the edge of the fire area and it is sure to be more drastic on up the trail.

026Bless the West Fork. It will return to its former lovely state and it will be interesting watching the forest rejuvenate in the coming years.