Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flame on

I have been feeling a little snakebit lately covering grass fires.  We have had some pretty good size fire near us but by the time I get there the fire is knocked down or it is too far away to get any visible flames.  Late this afternoon I headed to Corral Hollow for a report of a grass fire near I-580.  And yes there were flames.

No I'm not a pyromaniac but if you are covering a grass fire you really should have flames in your pictures.  it sort of makes sense.  Usually it is an access issue, how close can I get to where the fire is burning.  As luck would have it this fire was burning in a field close to the roadway near an abandoned landfill.

I remembered to grab my wildlands jacket and followed Engine 97 into the fire.  The flames were edging close to the access road but not too bad.  I could feel the heat as the flames crackled next to me.  Then as luck would have it a change in the wind pressed the flames closer to the access road.  The view started to gray in the smoke and I said screw it and sprinted to the truck.  Looking back I could see flames lap and roll up against the access road.  I did say I wanted flames didn't I?

The fire crews knocked the fire down in about a half an hour I walked intom the blackened field for a couple of more shots.  The slightest step sent a small ash cloud swirling around me.  With enough pictures of flames and the cleanup I headed back to the office where I was mocked for the slightly smokey smell from being so close to the action.

It wasn't the biggest fire of the season but I did manage to squeeze off some decent fire action.  It's all about getting close and getting the shot.  Driving back to the office I downed the last of my afternoon coffee.  Coffee and flames.  Yep, it was a good day after all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer colors

This week's hike took us to the Bay Area for cooler temperatures and scenic views as we took in the sight from San Bruno Mountain State Park.

We had tried to do this hike two years ago but a wildfire swept through the park the day before our hike.  We kept this hike on our list of places to go and this morning we arrived at the park with a layer of thin clouds and a steady breeze for our hike.

We picked the Summit Trail which is slated as a 3-mile loop with a gentle grade up the mountain.  We didn't see much evidence of the fire of two years ago but we did find a variety of colorful plants lining the trail even into late July.

It must be the cooler Bay Area temperatures or those brisk ocean breezes but wildflowers still clung to the trail, refusing to surrender to the summer season.  Wild berries mixed alongside monkey head and  collections of ferns.  Eucalyptus trees and their colorful leaves marked our path up the mountainside which gave us stunning views of San Francisco and the bay.

Macro photography was a challenge with the breeze that kept the vegetation moving but it also provided for a cool climb.  We reached the top but a trail closed sign prompted a different route for the return to the parking lot so we left the loop for a service road.

It was a great hike in the cool breezes as we forget about the valley heat for a awhile.  We will continue our coastal excursions until the weather cools and we can return to Mount Diablo and our other valley hiking trails.  Although I do have a doozie of a hike planned for mid September when I plan to tackle a challenging solo hike.