In 1990, I bought wilderness property in the Carmel Valley. Fire has been a frequent visitor.
In 1977, the Marble Cone fire, started by a lightening strike, burned brush on most of the southern slopes. There have been three other fires since then—1999, 2008, and in 2016, the Soberanes fire. The Soberanes fire burned for 83 days and consumed 132,127 acres.
Our property spans the top of Hennicksons Ridge. The south slopes face the Carmel River and are covered with brush with a firebreak running along the top of the ridge. Oak forests growing on the north facing slopes have escaped much of the fire damage.
I’m amazed at how quickly the property has recovered from the fires. In 1990, I had difficulty finding evidence of the 1977 fire.
I have always enjoyed spring on Hennicksons Ridge. Lupine, ceanothus, century plants, sunflowers, and a few California poppies make my hikes a colorful experience. But none of my previous trips prepared me for what graced my eyes on April 20. The Soberanes fire cleared the brush and heavy winter rains watered the slopes. In response, poppies exploded in all their glory—acres and hillsides covered in orange.