Last weekend we took a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park and discovered that a recently burned forest is actually quite beautiful.
We did about a 6 1/2 mile loop to Cub Lake and then around to The Pool on the Fern Lake trail, and back to the Cub Lake trail head. At first I was sad about the fire, but the burned trees allowed us to see the lay of the land much better than usual, and I saw a lot of fresh green shoots coming up already. It was really kind of pretty.
This area burned late last summer. In fact, we were camping nearby in Moraine Park while the fire was burning, and we could see if from our campsite in the distance. The second night we camped, the fire seemed closer. The very next night (after we were gone), rangers evacuated the campground in the middle of the night as the fire exploded with high winds and rushed across the grassy valley toward the campground. Firefighters protected the campground and a nearby museum, but they let the fire burn in the forest because there was a lot of fuel since it had not burned in a very long time. One casualty of the fire was a bridge over Wuh Creek on the Cub Lake Trail, just past the lake itself.
Perhaps the firefighters protected the trail head because of a bridge there, the trail head sign, and other improvements. Or perhaps the fire simply did not move in that direction. But for whatever reason, the Cub Lake trail head area was not burned. And in the open valley around it, most of the grass has recovered so well that the elk are enjoying the tasty spring growth.