On the 4th of July the family and I went back to Eklutna Lake to go four-wheeling. We got rained out of camping the week before that so we made the trip back when it was a bit nicer out. My brother-in-law changed his mind about going so that meant we got to borrow his four-wheeler and I got to go too. Yay!
I used to ride a four-wheeler around the farm all the time growing up, but it had been many, many moons since I had done that. It's pretty much like riding a bike. It all comes back pretty quickly. Plus our four-wheeler is an automatic so I didn't even have to shift. All I had to do was push the gas and the brakes. A monkey could do it, so I really shouldn't feel so impressed with myself right now. But I am.
The kids hopped on the back of mine and away we went. We drove past Lake Eklutna which is incredble, and I'll show you more pictures of that tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it).
Just as we came to the end of the lake I noticed that all the leaves had changed color.
It looked like autumn because all the foliage was orange.
We drove in a bit further and I finally figured out why.
We were driving through the aftermath of a forest fire.
I had seen this area that burned up the side of the mountain from a few miles back and I thought that it was a rock slide.
There had been a forest fire here almost exactly one month before our visit.
This area burned just the ground and the heat killed the leaves, but the trees are still alive.
Other areas were completely devastated.
It was strangely beautiful to me. I was completely mesmerized.
The colors. The smells. The contrast of bright green life and pitch black death. It was almost intoxicating.
It was otherworldly.
Every time I hear about a forest fire, I can't help but think about the cleansing attributes of the flames. I remember learning in elementary school about an evergreen tree that needed forest fires to proliferate. The heat from the fire was necessary for the pine cone to open and release it's seeds. Without fire, the species wouldn't survive.
And look at the pictures. It is just a month since the fire raged through, and there is already new green life bursting through that couldn't push its way out from all the underbrush before. Clear out the old and make room for the new.
Maybe that's why this scene of a forest fire didn't make me sad, but strangely hopeful.