Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shake and Bake

We thought that last Wednesday's little earthquake here was exciting, then we had the Motor Fire come to El Portal on Thursday. The fire started on the highway, on the south side of the Merced River, jumped across to the north and quickly shot to the canyon rim. It moved east toward Incline and El Portal, but a heavy application of brute force firefighting in steep terrain (including use of the mighty DC-10 Supertanker) has contained this in a few days.
Now outside the Conservancy office in El Portal there is fresh handline, just a hint of smoke, and no helicopter traffic. Ground squirrels bark, acorn woodpeckers laugh their maniacal cackles, scrub jays squawk. A tanager was 'br-dip'-ing earlier, and a phoebe 'p-chew'-ing. Grindelia remains in bloom in El Portal and the pale turkey mullein is having a good year. The river is more refreshing than ever as canyon temperatures will remain near 100 for the week.
The Motor Fire is nearly out, but the Avalanche Fire near Badger Pass continues to smolder. Though the park was open and not too smoky, visitation plummeted during the Motor Fire excitement; people may have misunderstood the location/impact of the blaze. Maybe it'll be a somewhat quieter holiday weekend.

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