Garrapata State Park and The Carelessness of Selfish Hikers / Campers

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert of a hiker crossing Soberanes Creek on the Soberanes Creek Trail in Garrapata State Park, CA.

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert of a hiker crossing Soberanes Creek on the Soberanes Canyon Trail in Garrapata State Park, CA.

My daughter is getting married in Carmel, CA in October, so we have been watching the Soberanes Fire closely, ever since it started and her soon-to-be in-laws were evacuated from their Carmel Highlands home, which sits very close to the wedding venue. Luckily they are safe and have another home to go back to in Chicago and thus far, their Carmel home has been spared, as the fire has moved southeast of them.
Many forest fires start by lightning strikes, but yesterday investigators determined that this fire is the result of an unattended campfire. This discovery makes me sick. We hiked in Garrapata State Park (where the fire originated) in February – along the Soberanes Canyon Trail, crisscrossing the Soberanes Creek and walking among beautiful redwood trees that are now charred. I’m saddened that I can not take that hike and enjoy the beauty of that place again when we are there in October. My photographs are cherished memories of a pristine landscape that no longer exists.
On our annual 2-3 week camping trip last month I put out an abandoned fire in Colorado. I saw the car drive away, then looked over and saw their fire pit billowing smoke. They blatantly left it smoldering. Last year I had to do the same thing in another part of Colorado. Why do people think that if it’s within a fire ring it’s OK to leave smoldering wood? No flames, does NOT mean no fire! Not only can a wind spread sparks and start a forest fire, but if the bed of a fire pit is hot enough, underlying roots can smolder for weeks before erupting in a fire. If you don’t make sure a campfire is dead out, you may unknowingly be the cause of a forest fire! Seriously – drench your fires when done. You should be able to put your hand in the fire pit before you walk away.
In the case of the Soberanes Fire, the campfire was started in an area where fires are not even allowed, but selfishly, whoever started it, ignored the notice and chose to have a fire at a scenic spot by a waterfall, because they wanted to! Now 132,127 acres (44,300 at the time of my original post) are charred, 57 homes are destroyed, one man is dead and an exquisite landscape is ruined for the next several decades.
Image copyrighted. No use granted without licensing from Martha Lochert.

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