Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Deadwood not dead nearly ten years after Grizzly Gulch

Observers of regenerating vegetation after a series of fires in the Rapid City area are marveling at the Earth's resiliency.

The anniversary of the Grizzly Gulch Fire is coming this July: watching it for 24 hours was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. The heat was so intense whole trees were lifted then sent downwind for nearly a mile setting spot fires on Pillar Peak.

Using Mt. Moriah as a gauge I estimated the flames rising to 800 feet above my vantage point near where The Lodge at Deadwood is today. Had the wind not switched and sent the fire toward Galena, it could have very quickly marched into Whitewood or Sturgis or both.

I watched as officials sent evacuees fleeing the Gulch.

It felt like one could reach up and touch the bellies of the slurry bombers that deployed their cargo over south Deadwood at an elevation far below my position.

Using my cell phone I gave live updates to Jack Daniels at the head-banger radio station. His home was just one of hundreds threatened by the blaze. His family returned to a near-miss now a place where oak is returning to those canyons at the foot of Pillar Peak.

In two hours during the following Spring I picked over 200 pounds of morels which carpeted the skidder trails. A hard rain made another 1000 pounds unusable.

Ten years later aspen is exploding into the hills where pine once infested these draws and buttes.

The following photos were taken above Whistler Gulch:





Update, 9 May: Cory penned a very sweet review of this post at Madville Times.

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