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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Stunningly Devastating

I've wanted to go back to Storm Mountain ever since we hiked it in the spring of 2020. It was such a gorgeous hike with decent views (particularly on the drive to the trailhead), it's in a secluded area where we wouldn't be around too many people, and not too far of a drive from our home. But with the Camerons Peak fire engulfing that area shortly after we hiked it in 2020, we weren't able to get back there until now. This area was just starting to recover from the South Canyon Fire in 1994 before getting scorched again in 2020 from the Cameron Peak fire. Although I don't know how bad the area burned in 1994, it seemed like the Cameron Peak fire did much more damage to this area.

The weather was a little more cooperative this time compared to when we hiked it in 2020. With less snowfall in the area this spring the trail was almost completely dry with just a few areas with a small amount of snow on the trail. I would have rather had the snow and gone snowshoeing, but when we hiked this last, we were underprepared without snowshoes even though we were in desperate need of them. So being able to hike on the muddy ground made it a much more pleasant hike that allowed me to focus on the devastated burned area.

We were hiking along the steepest section when we finally rounded a corner and the elevation gain flattened out for a little bit. It was only after we were able to catch our breath and actually look up instead of starting at the ground that we realized we hiked into the first burned section along the trail. We could see some of the fire damage in the distance from the beginning of the hike, but we weren't anywhere near it until almost a mile into the hike. I remember this hike being covered in dense trees at almost every point during the hike, but now we had almost wide-open views except for the slender burnt trees that were once covered in pine needles. It was truly a surreal experience none like I've ever experienced before. I hope this area gets a little more time than 16 years before its next fire.

Patchy ColorBurntBurned Trees EverywhereThe MeadowHoly and SpottyOverlookingHeading BackPokeyBurn Line

April 2022

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