Updated: Prescribed Burn

Continuing with catching up, it’s onto late October when we ventured up to a county open space park not far from our house to check out the aftermath of a prescribed burn completed for forest maintenance.

The prescribed burn at Hall Ranch, coincidentally, occurred the same day we were at Chasm Lake.  You could see some of the smoke in the air, but thankfully it wasn’t nearly as windy at that park as it was on our hike.  They were able to complete the burn as planned, and as crazy as this sounds, they did a really nice job.

Burn Area
Burn Area

Wildfires are a scary thing, but they’re nature’s way of maintaining balance.  For too long, many forests across the US have not burned, putting them at higher risk of being utterly ferocious fires when lightning strikes or – God forbid – a human starts a fire either on purpose or out of sheer ignorance.  (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught my breath each time I see someone flick a lit cigarette butt out the car window on the highway – just that little ember can put so many people and the forest at risk of a fire!)  Prescribed burns like this one are carefully controlled to kill the overgrowth and let nature hit its own reset button.

The burn covered a fairly large area.  I was particularly impressed with the lines of control.  They were so clearly defined that the park and forest personnel involved clearly knew what they wanted to burn and kept the rest from catching fire.

A Meeker View Among the Burn
A Meeker View Among the Burn

In its wake, the fire left a black landscape that was oddly pretty.  It’s certainly not something you see everyday, and there were already glimpses of the forest floor regenerating itself even only 2 weeks after the burn.

Already Coming Back
Already Coming Back

Whether it was cactus or yucca plants surviving the fire or little blades of grass popping through the blackened soil, it was more proof that nature is a pretty astounding and resilient thing.

-JC

May 2016 Update:  During our hike a few weeks ago at Hall Ranch, we went through this same exact area and it’s simply astonishing how it’s bounced back and is thriving.  This is exactly why prescribed burns – when done correctly and controlled – are so good for nature so it can regenerate itself!!

After the Burn
Hall Ranch – Prescribed Burn Area May 2016

Mmmm… Green Chile Beer

(Originally posted September 26, 2012)

Green Chile Beer San Luis Valley Brewing
Green Chile Beer San Luis Valley Brewing

One of the many things my husband misses most about Colorado is the beer.  While more Colorado craft beers are becoming available on the East Coast, there’s one style that has yet to arrive – green chile beer.

I’m sure you’re probably thinking to yourself, “What!?  Chile pepper in a beer!?!  Ewwww…”  I know that was my first reaction years ago, but I’ve come to learn that there’s a chile beer out there to fit most tastes because each brewery has their own take on it.

In Denver, Wynkoop has Patty’s Chile beer – light, but sort of spicy.  In Fort Collins, Coopersmith’s has their Sigda’s Green Chile beer – another light style with some zing.  Durango brings us Steamworks’ Prescribed Burn – medium color with tons of chile heat.  And Alamosa has San Luis Valley Brewing Company’s Valle Caliente – a light color beer with minimal heat and all of the flavor of the green chile.

My husband is a connoisseur of all of these chile beers, but I’ll always be partial to SLV’s version.  It’s simply a fantastic beer that tastes even better after a long morning of hiking in massive piles of sand at Great Sand Dunes National Park (located about 45 minutes from the brewery).

The day that this picture was taken, SLV Brewing was our oasis.  Situated in an old bank building in downtown Alamosa, Colorado, the pub gave us warmth, shelter, food, and drink as a a sunny morning in the Valley gave way to a showery afternoon.  We had a fantastic morning of hiking at Dunes before the skies opened, so we topped it off with a trip to town for lunch while we waited for the storms to move through.  By the time we were done, the rain was nearly over and it was time for some late day hiking.

The chile beer never tasted as good as it did that day, especially when paired with a basket of sausage and other snacks!

 

-JC