The Hayden Pass wildfire went from a lightning strike, quietly smoldering to over 5,000 acres in one day to over 12,000 acres that night. Many people evacuated from the small community of Coaldale, directly below the fire. Huge amount of beetle killed pines (winter is no longer cold enough to kill off most of the beetle larvae, thank you, climate change) are the fuel, high, hot winds blast it across the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Far enough away (could be 5 or 6 miles as the raven flies) to be of no concern for our safety, near enough to set our nerves on edge, wildfire is our new reality.
The Church of Saint Aloysius (the Saint is the patron of those beset by plagues) overlooks the ruins of Morley. Just to the north of the New Mexico-Colorado line, below the crest of Raton Pass sits the ruins of the old coal town. Scattered foundations and mounds of rock mark the townsite. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s coal was king and the area around Raton Pass had plenty of it.
It was morning and I was out setting up my gear to photograph hummingbirds when I heard a strange sharp, growling bark. Certainly nothing that I could recognize, a Grey Fox maybe. (more…)