Remembering the Angeles National Forest
As many of you already know, the Angeles National Forest is on fire
and has been for days. So far, about
200 230 square miles have burned, including the area where I took this
picture a couple of years ago. The forest is about 1,000 square miles
total, meaning 1/5th 1/4th of it has already burned up and the fire is expected to
continue for at least another week. The portions that are burning are
the places that I am most familiar with.
Even though I have been photographing the Mojave Desert a lot the past few months, the bulk of my photographs were taken here, in this forest, on long hikes with my dog Cooper. In the last several years I have spent almost all my free time up here, including working as a volunteer fire lookout at a Forest Service fire lookout. I wanted to help protect this sacred place. I've watched over this part of the forest for hours upon hours with a pair of binoculars and a topographic map, and I've hiked along streams in the rain here, I've weathered fierce electrical storms in the lookout here, and I've made up songs here and done stupid little dances here where no one could see me. And I have always hoped and prayed that if the forest were to burn, please let it be some other part. Because this is my special realm.
Homes are being lost, people killed and injured, and I know this is terrible. But strangely what really hurts to me is losing this important anchor--this place that taught me how to admire the world again.
I'm sure many other Angelinos feel the same way.
UPDATE: THE FIRE LOOKOUT AT VETTER MOUNTAIN, DISCUSSED BELOW, HAS BEEN CONFIRMED LOST TO THE FIRE. I HAVE NO WORDS AT THE MOMENT BUT IT IS A HUGE LOSS. Of course, it's nothing compared to the loss of two firefighters and many homes; the terribleness of this goes without saying here.