Updates from the Upper Rio Grande
I’m sorry – I’m unable to respond to everyone who has written to check in with us as in depth as I would like. I know you care. I hope this helps answer some of your questions, relieve some of your concerns.
I’m overwhelmed with the current situation and still understand everyone’s interest in what’s going on. I especially appreciate your concern, your compassion. I do not mean to be impersonal by writing one post and sharing it with you all. It is written for you. Each of you. All of you. Anyone who cares enough to ask and then to read.
I can’t tell you what’s happening. I can only tell you what I see. Here. On the mountain. My eyes. My words. From my home. Read them if you want. Don’t if you can’t. They’re not always pretty. But they will be real.
What do I see? Morning smoke rolling up from the Reservoir like a heavy fog. Afternoon plumes like mushroom clouds over Finger Mesa. This morning I see clouds. Real clouds. I see hope.
I’ve seen other things. Like a dead calf on the outside of fence line. Mother on the inside. A fence weak enough to let in a bunch of free range cows. Tight enough to keep in an abandoned horse. Things like a horse trailer half full ride right by the pasture where that horse has been left. Things like a woman more concerned with the contents of her fridge spoiling than the well being of her fellow man (and another so quick to think of us up here, and offer us those contents). Or a guy hauling out four truck loads and two trailers worth of “stuff” from his summer home (and another showing us the keys to his and the vehicles he left behind “just in case” we need them).
What matters most? Stuff? I think of people who built here, people who live here, people with no other place to go. I think of how many have their homes threatened, places they built or built onto, their livelihood threatened, their back yard and within feet from their doorstep charred. Stuff doesn’t matter. The three of us each packed a backpack with what we thought we’d really need, still hanging by the door, just in case. That was evacuation day.
The mountain has been evacuated. The fire is below us. We are still here.
If you want an update with facts and figure on the Papoose Fire, now included in the West Fork Complex, there are some good web sites. These are a few: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3436/ ,http://www.hinsdalecountysheriff.com/Emergency_Incident_Info.php, http://www.acemergency.org/. Look at them. Don’t listen to Facebook rants and e-mail gossip, please. Or if you choose to, take it with a grain of salt. Some of it may be right. Much of it is wrong. And trust me, it will be emotional. This whole deal is. It’s frightening, humbling, sickening, sad, and confusing.
Suddenly you realize how little you are. How little control you have. This Mother Earth is far stronger than you or I will ever be. That should give you hope. No matter what we do to mess up this beautiful place, She will heal and be OK, long after we are gone. I take comfort in believing that. Everyone has their own beliefs.
Anyway, let me tell you where I’m at. Lost Trail Ranch. Our home. Our guest ranch. At least it was. I mean, it’s still here, standing, untouched and rather unaffected by the massive fires and smoke. Except we have no guests, and it may be a while before they are allowed to be here. So the “guest ranch business” currently isn’t. It’s like winter – the half the year here on the high mountain that we’re used to blocked access, closed roads, and no people around for miles. Only it’s warm. The horses are on green grass and the chickens are laying eggs. And people are supposed to be here. This is how we make our living. Or not this year. But that’s just a minor detail. Money. What matters most, you find, is your family. And we’re fine, here, together.
Yes, I’ve seen a lot from up here this week, and much of what I have seen has been glimpses into the best and worst of human nature. Once again, I’ll stick with Mother Nature.
But I’ve also seen the best of human beings. I’ve seen bravery. Kindness. Reaching out. Generosity. I’ve seen compassion. So much compassion. This makes eyes swell hot and full with tears, because this is really beautiful, and this is really what matters, and this, compassion, is what at the end of day allows us to remember everything else around us – from the minor unpleasantries of our fellow human beings to the huge, overwhelming destructive fire we watch rip up an acre of dead standing timber in a matter of minutes as we sit back against at rock and watch. And for all this we send prayers to those brave and strong, dedicated and determined enough to be out there, in there, doing what they can to help. And because of that we can still sleep at night.
And that is what you need to remember when you think about your back yard burning up, a forest once lush and green that will never be again in your lifetime or your children’s lifetime, homes and lives threatened, businesses blown away in the ashes, wildlife fleeing or worse, remaining. You do have to think about it all. The good and the bad. But make sure you end by thinking about the good. No matter how hard you have to look to find it.
There are brave people, good people, great people. I’ve seen a few. I don’t want to name names. They know who they are. I’ve got a lot of thank you letters to write when this is done.
I also must put in here a special word to our guests and to all those reading this who may be scheduled guests for other places nearby: This road is closed and the area evacuated. Today. (Who knows about tomorrow? I’m not going to try to guess.) Lost Trail Ranch is too currently closed, though we are living here, watching, waiting.
We understand how this affects your vacation plans. This is currently the case for scheduled guests for resorts in South Fork, Creede and up in these mountains. The losses are tremendous and continuing. This is a natural disaster and emergency unlike anything we have ever experienced here. We cannot predict nor assume how or when the fires will subside and the road will open. We thank you for your patience, your understanding, and so often, your kind words and your compassion.
There are no answers we can provide at this time. We ask that you please follow the links provided and other official sources to keep up to date with current conditions in the area. We are inundated with trying to communicate with county, Forest Service, guests, summer home neighbors, family and friends during this terrible time.
There is much more to say, to share, but you only have so much time to read, and I only so much time to write. So, that’s all she wrote for now. Until next time.
Sending love and light from these high wild mountains,