On a brief weekend break, I was able to escape the heat of our desert and head up to Mt. Lemmon. I stayed with a friend at his cabin. It had been over a year since I last went up to Summerhaven. It's surprising really since there are a lot of birds and critters up there. You'd think I go up more frequently but it often comes down to the time and energy. I like to have several days in a row so that I can get up early and do my photography.
|Yellow Eyed Junco|
There was lots to see in the early morning hours plus it was nice and cool. You can't go wrong with that:) Here's my first picture with a yellow eyed Junco and a bug in the beak:)
The wildflowers are wonderful right now and can be found all over the hillsides of the mountain. The picture below is the Common Evening Primrose. I also took snapshots of the Hartweg's Primrose. Both are beautiful with their delicate yellow flowers. In a day or so I'll have an art series of Colombines. Yellow was the theme and I guess it's appropriate since Le
mons are yellow as well:)
|Common Evening Primrose|
All of these pictures were taken below a canopy of trees and this is significant because it tells the tale of how powerful the regenerative powers of a fire can be for a forest. I remember this place before, during and after the fires. Before it was dark and overcrowded with trees. Most people loved this about Summerhaven. During the fires, we were horrified that everything would burn. It would be a hard afternoon to forget as the fires reached a gas container on Summerhaven and exploded. And with it the livelihood of many people. From the city, we watched in horror as a mushroom size cloud burst into the sky. It was a sad day and we knew that from that point on, Mt. Lemmon would be transformed.
And it did transform. Going back up to the mountain right after the fire to check on my friend's strangely unscathed cabin was a very sad experience. Most cabins were burned to the ground. Stone chimneys were all that remained. And oddly enough, there were pieces of forest still intact.
|A Broad Tailed Female Hummingbird|
Fast forward 10 years into the future and you'll find a thriving ecosystem. Dare I say it's healthy? The animal life is abundant. The scars are still ever present, but new growth can be found everywhere. For people affected in Colorado Springs and elsewhere, it will come back. But it will be different for quite awhile. There is pain and loss when these things happen. I remember when the fire came close to my apartment in the Foothills. I now ask myself, "What would I do if there was a fire?" Save my cats. Save Pat. And grab my camera and portable disk drive with all the family memories on it.
The happy side of this fire has been the undeniable comeback of the Aspen trees. They have become the dominant tree form in the landscape. The tree canopy is once again forming....taller this time than from last year. And what lies beneath?
Life. Hope. A Cycle. This has happened before and it will happen again.
Today if you head up. Things will be different. Perhaps more open, but things have come back again. They never really left. I remember after the fire, I saw an ash covered deer on a trail and it made me think that nature is quite resilient. Of course, the pie place up on Mt. Lemmon isn't there anymore. Strangely, the place didn't burn down, but the owner that made the pies passed away a few years ago. Another restaurant is in that location now. It's not the same, but not everything can last forever.
You'll still find the observatory and forest around it intact. The ski lift and the Iron Lodge is still there. The hummingbird show is amazing. I have another Chuparosa challenge coming up. I'm very excited to share these pics with you.
So for now, I leave you with the delicate balance below the newly established canopy on Mt. Lemmon. The birds are absolutely loving it.....and I myself enjoyed the cool shade:) They must be doing a bird study because this Junco has bands around the leg. I love the look I'm getting:) More tomorrow....