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I took my kids for a typical Sunday afternoon hike today. Drive up as high as possible but by driving as little as possible. Got out, walked. Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

Winds were just tearing it up above 10.000 feet. Kids put on their parkas. Must have been gusting over 50. Crossed the bike/ATV trail and looked for some shelter from the wind to cook up hot chocolate and some tea for me. Hey it's a day hike with the kids, we're just out for fun. Set up my little butane stove in the shelter of some thick trees, blocked the wind with our packs and carefully heated some water. While sitting there my son remarked how hard and dry the grass was. Should have been succulent and new. I stuck my fingers in the ground and it was dry in the duff. If I'd started a spark it would have taken off forever.

A little later a lady walked right up on us without seeing us. The wind was so loud. She was looking for a fellow mushroom hunter she was with. No mushrooms, too dry. When I remarked on the danger of fire she said there was one burning above Fort Collins.

On the way home I could see it pushing high up into the sky then streaming out across  Kansas and Nebraska. I just read it was 22 square miles. Tankers all used up on all the fires and the aircraft are old and many grounded anyway.

Sure is dry.

New Mexico has a big one that's been going all week. All that beetle kill. Even if they could get permission to log it the wood isn't rated for structural, just ponderosa and lodgepole.

Long summer coming up. Bet a lot of houses went up with this one. The Colorado Front Range is often suburb like in housing density. Winds are down now.

If you're out this way it would be a good time to use that ash tray in the car for it's intended use.

Feel free to comment of add photos. I didn't take any.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please don't smoke in the western forests (9+ / 0-)

    A very dry winter has set the stage for huge fires. The hot, dry and windy weather weather makes for extreme danger of fire.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:21:45 PM PDT

  •  My neighbor in Breck is a firefighter. I asked (11+ / 0-)

    him back in April what the summer would be like.  Dangerous he said.  You are right to be worried about the butane stove.  The hiker in last months fire had his butane stove flip in high winds.  It was a definite accident - his tab for the ensuing fire is now 2.9m.  It may be an accident, but the hiker is responsible.  

  •  What I was seeing but I was on the other side (12+ / 0-)

    The theory that nature is permanently in balance has been largely discredited

    by ban nock on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:40:56 PM PDT

  •  I sure hope they can get a handle on this one (6+ / 0-)

    From what I've read, these have been started by lightening strikes, but there was a small fire in Eastern CO that they suspect was caused by a flicked cig....

    It's going to be a tough summer in the Mountain West...between the heat and all of the dead trees out there already from the beetle infestation.

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:45:05 PM PDT

  •  You know I hate to get all global warming (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jdld, mightymouse, greengemini, skohayes

    but the slight increases in temps have led to beetle mania and lots of dead trees.

    Elk can't fatten up on dry grass, even if there isn't a lot of snow this might be a bad winter. Many elk might not make it to spring.

    Saw a young elk calf while hunkered down under the trees. Couldn't tell what the heck it was at first, deer sized but with a funny face, coat pattern was different. Very nervous, probably the wind, or maybe the bear that prey on the young ones though this one was big enough to run. Head swiveling in all directions, then a quick nibble of grass, then head all around again. Mom must have gone first and we missed it. We play this game, first one to spot game animal or big predator. I won today.

    The theory that nature is permanently in balance has been largely discredited

    by ban nock on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:06:44 PM PDT

  •  It's A Good Thing Mitt Romney Isn't President..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jdld, greengemini, ban nock

    We don't need any more firemen according to him.  The US Forest Service would be a thing of the past under a Romney Presidency.

    Too much gubbermint.  

  •  Ponderosa and lodgepole (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Margd, emmasnacker, ban nock, skohayes

    When our neighborhood was logged after a windstorm knocked over hundreds of trees, ponderosa brought better prices than Douglas fir.

    It's in demand for things like windows or mouldings (millwork), and the ceiling over my head and floor under my feet are both 2x6 tongue and groove pond pine, the floors on the first floor are 1x6 T&G pond pine over 7/8 inch plywood. You can tell it's ponderosa by the smell when you cut it - smells almost like Juicy Fruit gum. I split some today (beetle-killed) for firewood and it smelled great.

    Lodgepole has one useful property - it has almost no taper compared to other coniferous trees. So of the four houses on my road, three are log homes and all three log homes are lodgepole pine.

    My neighbor to the west got a flatbed load of lodgepole logs delivered. He and his wife built a beautiful 900 sq ft home and 600 sq ft guest cabin. Both are Swedish cope, which means they set every log, scribed it, took it down and cut it to sit tight on the log below it, and then put it back in place.

    My house is nominal 10 inch lodgepole logs factory machined for Swedish cope with all the corner joints factory made as well. The logs were fire-salvaged in MT and turned on huge lathes to be uniform in size.

    Up in BC, before the housing crash killed the lumber market, they were heavily set up to harvest beetle-killed lodgepole (they have as much as CO) both for lumber and veneer/plywood.

    From a diary I wrote 3 years ago about CO forests:

    In the 1970s, Colorado produced over 100 million board feet of lumber annually from lodgepole pine. By the 1980s that was down by 80%, and is probably less today.
    Apparently it's better to let trees burn and force thousands to evacuate and possibly lose their homes than to cut dead trees or even worse, prevent them from dying in the first place. No one could have predicted that 2 million acres of dead trees and drought could lead to massive forest fires.

    And lumber and logs sequester carbon - burned up trees don't.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood - Tom Robbins

    by badger on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 10:07:22 PM PDT

    •  I buy 1x and 2x from the mill regularly for all my (0+ / 0-)

      home projects and just keep it stacked in the garage, it's all rough but pretty cheap, yet good straight wood. Lodgepole mostly, the wider is ponderosa. I like working with it, as you say the smell also I'm so sick of cedar which I deal with every day.

      A friend who is the foreman at a post and beam company built himself a log house with the logs fit on top of each other cut to fit like that. I was out of the state when he did it but it must have been work. Probably 2500 ft plus, two stories. Lot of the logs are 18".

      Lot of houses here were sided with big wide rough cut ponderosa. It actually works fine, so dry that if the roof has a good over hang they don't rot. I know logging looks like hell in the woods and it makes for roads that are then used by ATVs and what not but I don't think it does much harm long term especially down in lodgepole type forests. The other side of the divide has forests that would be much larger fires, when they burn it's really going to be something. Many more square miles, thicker forests, less access.

      The theory that nature is permanently in balance has been largely discredited

      by ban nock on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 04:17:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I flew home from NN12 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    yesterday, and my last leg was from Denver to my tiny little commuter airport in western Kansas.
    Once we got about 50 miles east of Denver, you lost sight of the mountains because of the smoke. I'm not sure if this was from the mountain fire or the New Mexico fire, but the smoke covered the entire eastern plain of Colorado (as far as you could see from the plane, anyway).
    Depressing, to say the least.
    We've gotten more rain this year than the last 2 or 3, so the fire danger (grass fires) is not as bad as it was last year.

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 04:28:19 AM PDT

  •  The bill is coming due. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    a century of misguided forest management.

    misguided cuts to essential undergrowth clearing and burning projects.

    misguided people thinking how good an idea it would be to "put up wooden frame houses in the forest" - log houses with metal roofs would have been a much better idea but still a huge risk which is underwritten by public tax dollars, much the same as people building in floodplains.

    oops - worst drought in 700-800 years just happens to be coincident with more people "living in the forest".

    but don't worry, unlike the last time this type of burning happened a hundred years ago, I'm absolutely confident that the right decisions will be made this time....

    unless, of course, it's too expensive....

    OK. And now we begin the part of the show where we pull out individual words and phrases of the commenter to try to determine the "real" meaning of the comment.... let the games begin.

    by hillbrook green on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 09:42:15 AM PDT

    •  There hasn't been forest management here for (0+ / 0-)

      30 years or more, no cutting. No young forests.

      But the bottom line is the earth is getting hotter and beetles are living through the winters. Look at the comment above yours. Net roots nation is no doubt attended by lots of greenies who have no wish to destroy western forests,,,, but they are.

      All that flying around is some of the worst CO2 to be had.

      The theory that nature is permanently in balance has been largely discredited

      by ban nock on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 07:31:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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