Back in January, when we were climbing outside every weekend, there was a lingering thought in the back of our minds. Basking in the sun on a warm winter day, it was hard to think of much besides the route at hand, but we all knew the weather we were enjoying could have dire consequences for the rest of the year. What if it never snowed? No, it’ll come in the spring like it always does. Except it didn’t this year, and we had the lowest snowpack in years. And now it hasn’t rained in months, and Colorado is burning down.
Conditions are extreme, as the slightest spark can start a blaze, and it feels like every day there’s news of a new fire wrecking havoc on the local population. I wake each morning and walk out onto the porch, scanning the horizon for tell tale plumes of smoke, almost surprised not to see any. A couple weeks ago, we were climbing at the Grotto Wall, and as I was cleaning an anchor, I saw a big plume of smoke and flames leaping into the sky! It appeared to be coming from the day use area, and thankfully the fire department was on the scene quick and nothing came of it. But it was a startling reminder of how fragile the situation is right now. It’s so dry, in fact, that all it takes is one misplaced cigarette butt, some target shooting gone awry, or maybe even sparks from trundled rocks.
While the truth is that much of the standing dead trees in the state do need to burn for the health of the forest, it’s unfortunate when so many people’s lives get caught in the path of the fury. Hopefully everyone will continue to respect the fire/fireworks bans, and the rain will eventually come and restore the land. Until then, be mindful of your actions, and if you see someone being stupid with fire, don’t hesitate to speak up and stop the situation. Stay safe out there!