I got to the trailhead at 10 am and there was still plenty of parking. The day was perfect - blue sky, sunny, gold aspen leaves, warm. Perfect! I started hiking and was a little surprised at how few people I saw on the trail. I was mesmerized by the yellow, orange and red Fall colors. And, as you all know, I take LOTS of photos. I was so excited, because I was alone, and could stop and take as many pictures as I wanted. ( Steve wasn't saying/thinking "oh my gosh, she is stopping AGAIN to take another picture"!) So as I was hiking, alone, I had lots of time to think, meditate, pray.....whatever you would call it..... and I decided I wanted to start writing my blog AGAIN! This has been a real start/stop blog. When we traveled SO much this summer, I really decided I wanted to start doing my blog, again.
So, as I was thinking all of these thoughts and deciding what and how I wanted to write when I came home today, I really had it all figured out. And, since I am not really a writer and would much rather just post pictures to my Facebook page, I was pretty excited that I had come up with an interesting blog post.
By now, I have walked at least 5 miles and I was trying to figure out how much further it was to Red Deer Lake. I was hungry, so I ate a granola bar and continued up the trail. I passed the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary sign and glanced at it. (and took a picture, of course). I continued to hike and take pictures. When I was almost to the place where the trail leaves the Middle St. Vrain Creek and continues up to Red Deer Lake and Buchanan Pass, I heard this guy yelling. He was really yelling. But, I couldn't hear what he was saying, so I stopped. I saw him and then his dog came running towards me. By now, I could see and smell smoke! At about the same time I hear the guy yelling, another guy came up behind me with his dog. This guy had started hiking about the same time I had. He got really upset and wanted to know why "guy #1" has a campfire! And he was really upset! By then, I realize that the first guy is yelling, because there is a fire, and he needs help trying to put it out! I throw my pack and my camera off and go running over to him with my little 23.7 oz Arrowhead water bottle! I am sure the guy is thinking that I am crazy! Well????? Meanwhile, "guy #2" is convinced that the fire was started by "guy # 1". Wow, was that weird! So they are yelling at each other and I am thinking, "come on guys/ we need to get this fire out, NOW". Oh, and they both had dogs. We had to calm the dogs down and then we madly started pouring water on the fire, which was spreading! Luckily, the fire was close to the creek, so we just kept running over to the creek and filling our bottles and then running back to the fire to try to get it out. Many trips to the creek and back! Finally, "guy #2" gets me his nalgene bottle out of his pack and hands it to me and tells me to use that, too! So, Now I have two small bottles! Then, here come more backpackers, a couple, and we yell at them to help us. I stayed for about an hour, throwing water on the fire. There was a small pine tree that had caught on fire, and we were trying to get that out. We were all amazed at how hot and how quickly, the fire was spreading. Finally, I realized that I was the only one of us that was doing a day hike. They all had backpacks and were spending the night. I finally said, "I think I need to go back and report this."..... oh yes, that would be a good idea.
I said "goodbye' to all my new friends and started jogging/ running back down the trail. But, I had 6 miles to get back. All the way back down the trail, I kept thinking...... Cell phones don't work, we have NO way to report this fire, Steve isn't with me, so we don't have the DeLorme inreach, etc. SO, I finally get back to Camp DIck and both campground hosts are off duty! I still don't have cell phone service, so then I have to decide - "do I drive all the way down Highway 7 until I get service, or do I drive toward Nederland? So, I drove to Nederland. Oh my gosh! I could not believe how many people were on the to Peak to Peak highway taking pictures of aspen leaves!!!!! I called Roosevelt National Forest, but the are not OPEN on the weekend. I finally called the Boulder Sheriff and talked to a very nice dispatcher, who relayed the message on. As I got to Lyons, I had a voicemail on my phone from the Allenspark Fire Department. I had to tell them where the fire was, my name, when we found it, etc.
SO...what I learned from all of this -
Always have the Delorme OR Steve with me. :-) !
Don't build a fire in the wilderness, especially when the fire danger is SO high!
It really is bad, that our cell phones don't work "out there"!!!!
I really do believe that if it weren't for the five of us, running and throwing water on the fire, the outcome could have been really bad!!
The other thing I kept thinking, over and over- I was truly mad at the people who had built a fire, illegally, and how careless they were. I kept thinking they were "stupid", but then kept thinking what we say to the grandkids. "People aren't stupid, but people can do really stupid things!" And these people did something really stupid, and the results could have been much worse, if we hikers/backpackers had not been there to put their fire out.
So, I will end this now.... I never made it to Red Deer Lake and that made me a little sad! But..... I took lots of pictures on the way up the trail, before all the excitement began....
And, tomorrow, I am headed back with my sister to view and see and take pictures of all the beautiful aspen on the Peak to Peak highway. Maybe, we will see some of you out there!
And.... for those of you on Facebook, I will probably post some of today's pictures! :-) !
PLEASE NO fires!