East Fork, Four Years Later

The Las Conchas wildfire, at that time the largest in New Mexico’s history, was four years ago. There were a couple of weeks where we heard about the fire on the news, could see the smoke plume, but couldn’t get anywhere near it. Finally, Highway 4 opened up and I drove up to see what the damage was.

I took a photo that day of the area where the fire had started — immediately across the road from the Las Conchas walk along the East Fork of the Jemez River (one of my all-time favorites). There was a fire engine sitting smack in the middle of the meadow. I remember being really freaked out that year. It seemed like the whole state was going up in flames, and the talking heads said parts of the Las Conchas wildfire had been so hot that there’d be no new growth in those areas for decades, i.e., in my lifetime.

Yet here’s the same meadow as it looked yesterday. It’s a wider angle, taken at a different time of the day, but still…. I almost wept when I saw all that green undergrowth in the mountains. I could never have imagined that the Jemez (and much of the rest of the state) could possibly be so green just four years later. (Yet another reminder that we really can’t imagine the future very well.)

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