Mt. Charleston Fire – One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor

I was in my back yard and staring at the clouds the other day when I realized that it wasn’t just any cloud, but it was a huge fire over by Red Rock Canyon. I watched in fascination as it became larger over the next day, and then on July 4th, I saw the sunset behind it and the subsequent evil orange glow that looked like a huge cauldron and I was itching to run out with my camera, but we were with family and it’d still be there tomorrow. Tomorrow came and went, things happen, and then was on my way to the store at 10:00 at night and saw the evil glow of Mt. Doom once again and tiredness be damned, it was game on. I packed iced coffee (Trader Joe’s Bay Blend, Ultra Dark roast for night ops), a lawn chair, some PB & J sandwiches, my trusty head lamp, and headed out in search of the glow.

The thing about fire is it’s never what you expect, and in both good and bad ways. It’s unpredictable, it’s dangerous, it’s fire. The seriousness of the situation was underscored by the yowling of about a dozen coyotes who were watching their burrows burn, a stark reminder that we really don’t control diddly squat.

Watching a mountainside burn is an amazing experience in itself, it’s an ever changing symphony of violent change, a cacophony of energy being released in a malevolent manner. I sat there for two hours, and would have stayed longer but my coffee was drained, batteries were depleted, I was out of sandwiches, most importantly is the fire was marching towards where I was sitting, and having watched the Chelan Butte burn, with the fire spotting two miles at a shot, I’ve been to the burn ward before, and felt no need to return. I had a long drive back at 2:30 in the morning, it was time to go home.

Before leaving, I stood there, transfixed on the burning forest for one last minute and my last thought was “One does not simply walk into Mordor”







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