Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fire and Ice: The Rockies

Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. 

Robert Frost

The fires in CO are no longer local news. I can see the blazes, the white clouds of smoke, from over the mountain. Listening to satellite radio, I hear my local morning radio show talk about another fire in Colorado Springs. There are pictures in online forums of at least seven fires in the area, and my Red Cross Disaster Action Team sent out an email. 

Where I am, it reaches high 80s and 90s. I trek around camp laden with 14 or so children, forcing them to drink and sit in the shade from time-to-time. Trees are down everywhere, dead from pine beetles and overcrowding. There hasn't been a proper, natural wildfire to weed out the weak and the sick for years.

Then something starts only five miles away from my room. A tourist has burnt trash outside, or welded metal, or some other rumor. 

People are talking about hiking above the fires, above tree-line, to Longs where I've never been. I sit in the foyer because my room has no A/C and hear roads are shut down.

It feels like the whole world is on fire. A giant storm hits my hometown and they have no power. The next day temperatures soar to the 100s. The news is saying it may be up to a week before it can be fixed.

So I reach out and up, and I climb. I go past the falls and rivers and lakes. I climb higher with the sun beating down on my green tank-top, burning me pink and brown, until I see snow. It'll be gone soon, but it's here now. 

My friend falls into a snow-trap up to her waist and we rush to slide down the rest. There's a glacier in the distance but we don't have the proper tools to slide it yet so we head down below tree-line, where the wind can't reach us lest we be blown off the mountain or struck down by lightening because surely we'll fall into the blaze.

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