california, Hiking, Opinion, outdoors, writing

The Fires Around Us

It has been a sad week here in the San Gabriel Valley. Since Labor Day weekend, amidst a record-breaking, infernal heat wave, the mountains above us have been scorched by fire. A persistent brown-grey cloud has hovered over the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and the valley below, causing extremely poor air quality, yet another reason to stay indoors.

The Bobcat Fire burning above Duarte, California on September 10

The high fire danger prompted the closure of all national forests in the state of California on September 9. The abundance of dry vegetation and intense heat have created some of the worst conditions for fire management. At time of writing the forests remain closed to the public, lending even more to the sense of apocalypse that has characterized 2020.

My favorite hiking spots have been impacted by these fires. Sadly, the Bobcat Fire, which started on Sunday, September 6 near Cogswell Dam in the mountains above Azusa, has spread to over 40,000 acres, and has burned parts of Monrovia Canyon and Big Santa Anita Canyon near Chantry Flats. It got within 500 feet of Mt. Wilson and its famed observatory and valuable radio and television transmission towers. Fortunately fire crews have been able to spare the historic structures, but we’re not out of the woods yet, literally and figuratively.

As sad as it is to have to stay inside as the fires rage, our hope is that containment lines can be drawn, that homes and livelihoods are spared, and that we can feel peace in the midst of what has been an extraordinary year. We are extremely thankful for the work of fire crews as they try to get a handle on this blaze, and really impressed by the skilled pilots making their water and Phos-check drops with incredible precision.

Be safe and well out there. Hopefully we’ll be able to take some happy trails soon.

The hills above Monrovia and Arcadia. Photo by Sami

For more information, the City of Monrovia has been great about updates on fire progress.

You may also visit the U.S. Forest Service for updates on closures.

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