The "Rim Fire" was started in a remote canyon in the Stanislaus National Forest. The fire started on August 17, 2013, it was the third largest wildfire in California's history, having burned 257,314 acres. It was also the largest wildfire on record in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. More than one year passed before it was declared completely out on November 4th, 2014.
My mom lives in the Sierra Foothills , so I do a lot of camping in the area where the fire was concentrated. This past week I finally had a chance to go visit the fire zone to see what actually happened. To say the forest was devastated is an understatement. I've never seen something that made me truly understand the power of natural forces. What was once a dense forest had been reduced to a moonscape.
But as I walked through the stumps and piles of debris, I began to notice an odd sense of beauty. The contrast of thousands of stark blackened trees reduced to poles standing tall against the bright blue sky. The long cast shadows and now open expanses gave way to a new, unfamiliar abstract landscape that was captivating. I spent a few hours photographing and started to feel guilty for feeling that way, like I was a paparazzo taking images of a car wreck for TMZ. So it was a relief that at one point as I was walking back to my truck, I noticed something on the ground, something that was now oddly out of place in this new world...it was something green. One lush, little leafy plant. Actually, once I started looking around, lots of little green leafy plants. All doing quit well as a matter of fact. Oblivious to their surroundings, they were taking full advantage of all the new sunlight the fire had inadvertently created for them and were making the most of it. So, of course, while it looks pretty bleak at the moment, I was reminded that over time, the forest will come back. And probably better than before...as it has done time and time again.