For a while, I’ve wanted to show some side-by-side photos of the wet and dry seasons here in Sonoma County. Folks who haven’t been to California, or who grew up in temperate zones where rain can fall any month in the year find it hard to imagine how huge is the difference between our usual April, and our usual October. This year, it’s unusually start because we had frighteningly little rain this past rainy season. So little rain that our hills are already going brown, weeks or months before they would in a usual year. The image just above was taken less than six weeks after the top left shot – and in case you can’t tell, this is the same hill from pretty much the same angle. The other two photos above are also from roughly the same place, taken less than six weeks apart. The dry ones were shot on May 14; the wetter ones the first weekend in April. And it’s in an area that’s burned twice since 2017. And, um, rain is extremely unlikely between now and at least October. Draw your own conclusions, and wish us luck getting through to the next rainy season without too much new fire stress….
If you’re curious, scan some past entries from last autumn (October-December or so) to see photos I took looking up at the Maycamas Ridge, when it had been freshly burned (again) by the Glass Fire last year. This fresh spring layer of grass is the seasonal green of late wet season. Most of what you see here was charred by the Glass Fire last year.
Pardon the clunkiness of this gallery. This site’s host has forced a new editor on me, and I really don’t much like it. If anyone has recommendations of other, very simple and non-flashy basic blog-site hosts, I’d welcome suggestions.
If you’ve visited our pages in the past, you’ll have seen many photos taken in and from Annadel State Park. All of these photos fall into that category, most taken on a lovely, long, meandering solo hike with which I greeted this new year. Some of these were taken on later visits. Many are taken in the southerastern quadrant of the park, an area I’ve not visited since it was badly burned during the Nuns Fire in late 2017. This is partly because trails were closed for many months and then I was out of the country; partly because I was worried about what I’d see; partly because I usually bike into the park, and try to avoid the smaller trails during mud season, to help reduce erosion. Be that as it may: herewith a sense of what we see when we explore our closest park here, three years after this part of the park burned. To be clear – the shot above here shows you Mt St Helena and the Mayacmas range, north of Annadel, all of which were affected by two different fires: the Tubbs, also in 2017; and the Glass, just last year. I’ve put plenty of photos up which show you the ridges of the Mayacamas which have now been twice burned in three years. The charred trees you’ll see further down were burned in the Nuns, not those other two fires. If any of my readers are still acting as though one can doubt or question the science of climate change…hello?
Although trees around where I stood when I took this shot *did* burn in the Nuns fire in 2017, the “burn” part of this photo is on the Mayacamas ridge in the distance – which, when I took this photo late last year, had just been burned again in the Glass Fire, after experiencing the Tubbs fire in 2017 at the same time as the south side of the valley, from which I took this photo, was burning in the Nuns fire. I remind us again that Santa Rosa hadn’t seen major immediately close forest fires for a few decades prior to 2017. Now we realize that with climate change, this is our life, and we rather desperately hope that both public and private policy and behaviors will speed their pace of change while we can still reduce the longer-term impacts on future generations and livability on the planet…
A bunch of photos taken in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park not long after a few of its trails reopened after the Glass Fire. I showed you the first of my photos from this hike in post just before Thanksgiving (https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2020/11/23/beauty-and-the-burn-2/), but now I’m putting the rest up because we’re having more rain this weekend, so I can feel a bit more hopeful that the earth’s healing processes will get to work. And maybe, here on the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Accords when many other major nations of the world are facing up to the urgent need to cut carbon emissions, there is hope that federal policy in 2021 will return to an acknowledgment of scientific reality rather than pandering to those who choose to live in denial at the expense of all fellow living beings on the planet…
Yes, those two photos were taken only six days apart: on the left, after six days in
which more than an inch of rain fell on the rocks in that gully. Yes, it’s the exact same gully and the rocks are the exact same rocks. It was right on the fire line three years ago when the Nuns fire burned up from the south, and threatened to meet the Tubbs fire which was burning down from the north. I’ve been chronicling this gully, and the specific rock below, since this portion of Annadel reopened a few weeks after the fire’s forward progress was halted here. You can see these rocks and their various dry and wet season states in many previous posts, including this post with sequential study of the rock shown just below https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2018/02/07/marred-scarred-marvelous-mountains-of-sonoma-county/
So we’re getting a bit more rain yesterday & today: Santa Rosa itself may reach the magic inch of rainfall before today is out. Thus, I’ve decided it may be safe for me to post these remaining photos I took in the days and weeks after the Glass Fire exploded into Santa Rosa over the Mayacamas Mountains. (Safe, in the sense that it’s less likely yet another fire will explode over the mountains. Though one really never knows, these days…) Somewhere in each of these photos you can see the burned ridges and eastern slopes of the range that separates us from Napa county, the view I see from my home, from my bike rides and hikes around most of this central part of the county. Most of it’s what I called twiced-burned, in a post not long ago.
I’ve recently been on many a hike, alone or with friends, where I know how to detect the marks from the Nuns and Tubbs fires three years ago. Things can grow back, so long as there’s time and enough rain to regrow. This landscape and ecosystem evolved with fire, but it did that evolving before our human pollution started tipping the balance and changing the atmosphere so very much. I wonder how much of this beauty our current childrens’ great-grandchildren will be able to see still. I wonder how many of our fellow citizens actually even care to ask themselves these questions and consider changing their habits and patterns to help preserve more for our future generations.