Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fire in the hills

Around 10am, I went out for a tour around Conway Ranch. Some entity with bulldozers--the County, I assume--has widened what was a perfect jeep trail. Now, the road is roughly graded, and the sage has been torn up and crushed along the edges and pushed into isolated pyres that will probably go unburned for years. Seems like a quintessential case of work for the sake of work--there's absolutely no reason, to my mind, why this road needed to be "improved." It might see a car, or two, on a good day. In any case, as you can probably tell, my aesthetic and environmental self (and economic, such as it is) found the change irritating. Pretty strange to see orange Slow, Work Ahead signs in the middle of nowhere. I did not slow, but I wasn't going fast, either.

Had thought about going for a moonlit double, but it didn't pan out after my South Tufa tour and store shift, which ended at 9:30pm. Too late. But the basin just started "pop'n" with rainbows and brilliant light before dusk after scattered thunderstorms much of the afternoon. People were pulling over on the side of the highway to snap pictures of the 'bows, and the Mono Craters were going on and off like Chinese lanterns strung toward Mammoth. Also, a lightning strike kindled a sizable fire in the Bodie Hills, which mushroomed a spectacular, billowing cloud high into the air (allowing me to imagine what a volcanic eruption might look like beside the lake). Added further drama to an already unbelievable landscape. We'll see how long it continues to burn ...

9 mi, 63 minutes; Conway Ranch Loop, without the Goat Ranch Cutoff ext.

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