No treatments or anything done for this photo — I took it on the fly and somehow it came out like this. I like it.
I’ve been through massive fires around here before. The Laguna Beach fire of 1993 crested the tallest hill I could see from my old campus housing; we fled for north Irvine just in case. The 2003 fires were no cakewalk — I still remember being shocked to realize that the smoke was so thick I could clearly see a massive sunspot eruption on the sun, there being no impediment to looking at it directly. There will be more in the future, and as long as people live so close to the fire zones — whether for reasons of beauty, affordability, family roots or whatever else — risks will be run. I live in an earthquake zone, I’m hardly excusing myself on this front.
Still, walking around today — a much better day than the immediately previous ones, by all accounts — was still a bit surreal, ash blowing everywhere, a brown cloud turning the sunlight red, and above all else the smell of smoke everywhere, inescapable. A couple of coworkers aren’t here today; they live down in north San Diego County, where conditions make here seem pristene. They’re all right by all accounts, I hope the best for them.
But there is unavoidable loss. I’ve had a few people contacting me asking if I’m okay, having heard news reports about Irvine fire damage. No worries — I don’t live in Irvine but Costa Mesa, which is nowhere near the fire zones (or any real wildfire zones; we’re firmly ensconced in developed areas), while Irvine itself is so huge that its southern end, where UCI is, is well away from its northern boundaries and the start of the local fires. Good friend Stripey, though, lives in an area not far from where the fires were burning, and I did contact her while I was away to see if all was well — she’s fine, though the bad air kept her at home for a day.
However, just now she followed up with some sad news — her favorite hiking area, Limestone Canyons and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, has been burnt out. Some months ago she asked me to join her on a hike; she strongly felt I had to get out there at some point, and I’m certainly glad she insisted. Here’s my photoset from the hike, so you can get a sense of what it was like, as far as we went. When it will be like that again who knows.
One photo I took from the start of the hike, in retrospect, is the clear warning: