Update on the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire – June 26, 2022

The fire is out.

Maybe not by strict definition, but it’s out enough to say that. The monsoons arrived early this year. The rain started falling last week, about 10 days ago. I was in New Hampshire helping my mom recover from a broken hip and got to talk to my husband, who was in Santa Fe, when the rain started. He went outside and held the phone out so I could hear it falling.

As the Santa Fe New Mexican reported yesterday, “Infrared flights over the 341,735-acre Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire ‘had a difficult time picking up any heat,’ an operations section chief on the blaze said in a Friday evening briefing.'”

There are still pockets of fire burning, and they may burn for a very long time. But the sweeping spreading, most destructive part of this is over.

Now, unfortunately, comes the flooding and the landslides and the water sources getting screwed up. We’ve gotten rain, and it put out the fire, but we’ve gotten more than enough rain to cause different types of trouble. Most of the people on the East Side of the mountains are still under evacuation alerts now due to flooding.

All that, but I’m still so relieved it’s “over.” It won’t be over for years, really, but I’ve said that already.

The fire is currently at 85% containment. Up from 78% just yesterday.

Here’s the map:

Here’s a closer view of it:

For my own tiny part of this, almost all of the thru-hike has been spared. Even the headwaters of the Pecos survived, though a sizeable section of the Pecos further downstream did burn. The fire stopped just 0.8 miles from the headwaters.

The only part of the thru-hike that’s burned is what I showed you last month – a section near Angostura (this has an easy workaround through Cordova Canyon):

And barely a nip around Romero Lake:

But half of Hamilton Mesa is gone. The northern and eastern edge of it is burned through. This is not part of the through hike; it’s a massive field just north and east of Iron Gate trailhead and campground. It had the most wonderful wild irises. Huge swathes of them.

A few people have reminded me that it is the nature of the landscape here to burn. And it is. Over the centuries the fires have probably swept through over and over. The irises probably burned, too. And then they came back.

If my ankle will let me even drive up (I messed up a tendon in my right foot; I’ve been injured for twelve months now), I would like to drive up to Sipapu and Route 518. Just to see what I can.

The woods are still closed, of course. They should be. And they may be closed until next year, despite a good monsoon. Burned woods are dangerous – it’s possible to be walking through them and step on a burned-down stump, still burning underground. But maybe by spring my foot will be strong enough to go through again.

It’s still there.

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