Monday, March 16, 2009

Prometheus Can Suck It

Remember back in January when I posted about taking K on a backpacking trip to the Juniper Prairie Wilderness? Well, that won't be happening again anytime soon as it's currently going up in flames.

Sure, the place has burned before and fire is perfectly natural and a part of the way many ecosystems work, but this place had only just begun to get a good start on recovering from last time.

I understand that nature is resilient and eventually all signs of fire will have been obliterated by life, but my perceptions don't work on biological time. My perceptions are built around the brief blips of human existence. By the time these burned sections return to their full glory, I'll be in my 60s at best. I just hope the patches of forest that had survived the 2006 fire survive this fire as well. It'd be heartbreaking to know that views like this



or this

are gone for the rest of my prime.

It is reassuring, at least, that there are other great places of natural beauty that I will visit now because of the short-term loss of this beautiful place, but I don't have the sentimental attachment to those locations, at least not yet. This was my first trip where I was in the lead. Until that trip, all of my backpacking had been done with the more experienced Mickey picking the trail and telling me what I needed to do when I didn't already know. I only hope the oaks that shaded me in that last photo survive the flames. That site, Hidden Pond, has been pegged as the likely spot where the fire began. Oaks that size usually don't struggle too much with fires, so maybe Hidden Pond will be just as beautiful as soon as the quick-growing grasses and undergrowth have time to return.

Also, the fire seems to have been started by the campfire of a group of backpackers. Honestly, the idiots had to have been extremely careless to have let that happen. You'll notice that on my photo, the fire is in the center of a square of logs about 15 feet across, and our tiny fire is in the center of that. I could have stretched out between the logs and the fire on the cleared ground without even singeing my hair. You don't need a bonfire when camping and the pine that makes up most of the available dead wood in the area doesn't leave much in the way of coals. You let the fire die out and within an hour you could stand in the ashes safely.

Besides, what were they doing with a campfire last week? It would have been almost 90 degrees in that part of Florida at times last week. Even at night it wouldn't have gotten below the mid 50s. Some people just don't deserve the knowledge of fire.


Mickey said...

Yeah, that kind of sucks.

When, in my former job, I had to patrol a campground, we always brought along a bucket of water and a shovel to extinguish any fires left burning. All it takes is a couple of left-over smoldering embers and a good gust of wind to set off a human-caused fire.

Jacob said...

Yeah, but from the description I read earlier, it sounds more like a case of a group letting their fire get out of control and not a case of an improperly quenched fire having blown embers start the fire. We watered our fire. I was just using the comment about the pine=no coals to kind of emphasize how careless these people probably were.

I'm kind of imagining that one guy we knew in college who set the boulder on fire getting loose in the back country.

Honestly, I've got a feeling a lot more fires are started by gross negligence than are started by incidental embers. That doesn't mean campers shouldn't take the proper precautions, it's just safe to assume that people being charged with starting the fire were being jackasses and not just forgetting a properly douse the embers.

Julie said...

Those jerkholes. I'm sorry about the destruction of your memory lane.

A Free Man said...

It is, as you recognize, a biological necessity for many healthy ecosystems. And the rejuvenation is beautiful in and of itself. On our recent trip we went for a walk through a forest that had burned just over a year ago and it was amazing to see how quickly it was springing back to life.

The arson (or moron) aspect is a strange one. We (non-arsonists and non-morons) spend so much time trying to keep places from burning that we're actually doing the ecosystems harm. In a twisted way, the morons are doing nature's work.

Jacob said...

True. In fact, I commented on the beauty of that rejuvenation on my trip report back in January. Part of what made that hike so interesting was seeing life reclaim the damage from the 2006 fire.

Still doesn't make me like the idea of Hidden Pond burning.