This fire season in California has been epic in the worst possible way. Not only did we have the state’s largest recorded wildfire, the Ranch Fire, but we’ve had the most destructive fire, the Camp Fire. During any prior year the Carr fire would have been the most destructive fire in California, but this year has been exceptionally bad for wildfires.
I was out checking in on one of our salvage logging contractors on the Carr Fire last week. The timber salvage operations are well under way. Click on the gallery of images to read about it.
This view is from the Highland Ridge Road looking down at the Community of French Gulch. Over the course of a couple weeks the fire made a run at the town three separate times. Many homes were destroyed.
The Carr Fire left hundreds of millions of board feet of dead timber in it’s wake.
It’s like a ghost forest.
Bark beetles immediately invaded the fire killed trees. In the spring they will spread the many of the surviving trees.
This is one of many of our salvage loggers. It is imperative to get the wood to the mills as fast as we can. It begins to deteriorate as soon as it’s dead. The tractor is skidding trees to the processor,. The processor cuts the trees into logs, while the loader sorts the logs into decks.
Here the processor manufactures trees into logs.
A couple of big logs waiting to be skidded into the landing.
On steeper ground we use track laying skid cats to move the trees to the landing. The land around Redding that burned is very steep.
The logs get sorted by size and species while waiting to be delivered to the mill.
The trees don’t always burn completely during the fire, but the heat alone is enough to kill them.
This part of the forest had been thinned before the fire. By spacing out the remaining trees the fire burned at a lower intensity. The fire wasn’t as hot, the flames were smaller, and the remaining trees were resilient enough to survive the fire. Thinning these trees in a logging operation saved them.
Even now, weeks after the fire was contained there are still hot spots out in the burn. We may still find some hot spots in the spring.
Since I wrote this post the rains began in earnest. Our fire season has come to brutal end.
I drew this pen and ink while Mary and I were sitting in a ground hunting blind two deer seasons ago. It’s of a female downy woodpecker that I photographed earlier that season. I took it when we were in another blind. If you consider that I completed the drawing while waiting for deer you can probably deduce that no deer were harmed during the drawing of that picture. We always do most of our shooting with a camera.
I was out in the Carr Fire burn area today. It’s quite devastating to see the thousands of burned acres of forest. This fire destroyed over 1600 structures, but it also killed millions of trees. We are faced with an epic fire salvage operation that will take years to complete. That will be followed by an equally epic reforestation program
This hunting season has been postponed for us. The Carr Fire has resulted in the area we hunt being closed due to the fire danger. So we wait. I prepared this post months ago and this seems like a good time to post it. There are a couple pictures of some of the game we harvested, but mostly it’s images from our season.
When we hunt big game we immerse ourselves into the experience, always. We don’t just experience nature we participate in it. We hunt to for food. Each meal we prepare we reminisce over our experience and appreciate where that food came from. We observe things that time of year we don’t always see the same way during the rest of the year. As a result we take a lot of pictures. This gallery is a small sample of the sights and sounds we enjoy each season.
Our bow hunting season started mid August and rifle season ended in late October. It was grueling and difficult hunting in rugged country. The weather was hot much of the time and we had to contend with constant smoke from the wildfires during bow season. We cover a lot of ground on foot and spent hours in ground blinds. One of the benefits is we never know what might show up near our blinds. The cameras are always handy.
Phanny joined us for some pre-season scouting.
A painted lady landed on my arrow tip while we sat in the hunting blind.
The fence lizards cruise our hunting blinds searching for ants.
A Pacific fisher unknowingly visited us.
The fisher investigates our wildlife camera. Come on little buddy just a little farther. Darn, we didn’t get his picture.
The gray squirrels didn’t detect us most of the time, but when they did we heard all about it.
Yellow jackets and hornets are always a risk in the woods. This bald-faced hornet isn’t to be trifled with.
Tiny birds like this brown creeper were around nearly all the time.
Fungus growing on a black oak snag.
Big ferns grow in the stream zones.
Butterflies would land on us while we sat in our blind. They were drinking sweat from our skin.
Canyon live oak
A steller’s jay in for a drink.
Smoke was a constant nuisance in the early season.
This acorn woodpecker was panting because is was so hot.
You can’t beat the view when the smoke is gone.
Sugar pine cones
A doe in my bow sites. We don’t take does in California.
Doe close up.
A California Sisters butterfly.
This bigleaf maple is just beginning to change.
A large black bear cruises through.
Tanoak acorns blanket the road. Acorns are a very important food source for all manner of wildlife.
A bigleaf maple leaf gets more yellow. They are our reminder of the seasons passing.
My hunting partner.
The steller’s jays were like little bits of sky.
The red tail hawks were always cruising about. We weren’t the only hunters out there.
It’s rugged country. We work hard for everything we get.
Big sugar pine.
Our camp is a swarming ground for the local ladybugs. Did you know that ladybugs bite!
I was watching a bear down in the thicket of live oak trees.
Old growth sugar pine.
Fall color from the black oaks and bigleaf maples.
A golden bigleaf maple leaf has seen better days.
Calk boots in an oak tree?
Those are timber faller’s boots. There is a story wanting to be told here.
An early snow warns us that the season is winding down.
Leaves changing one at a time.
If you wait long enough someone’s trash becomes an artifact.
Mary worked hard for this fine buck. It was harvested on a high remote ridge. We had a long steep pack out.
A view from one of our blinds.
I love the change of the season.
Fall color and snow.
What a view!
The dogs love to investigate our bounty when we get home.
“I see you!”
No the camera isn’t tilted. We hunt some steep country.
Just look at this late summer flower. I took this picture near our home and happen to find it beautiful. What I would like to know is who came up with this name, yellow tarweed. That’s a terrible name and it just doesn’t do this flower justice. My favorite flower name of all time is indian paintbrush. That’s a name. It cries out ART! Tarweed cries out stick pest plant. Yuck! It needs another name. How about starburst or golden glory! What do you folks think? Give me some names.
I’ve taken so many picture of the sunsets during the Carr Fire. Here is another set. I took these about ten days ago. We are still getting the surreal sunsets. The fire is contained and the burnout operations are done. Other fires are burning in the area. We won’t be without the smoke anytime soon.