A Reluctant Look at Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fire


On Sunday, July 24, an evening thunderstorm in El Valle did what I’d been expecting one to do during monsoon season: it sent the water and mud and debris down from my uphill neighbor’s driveway across the road onto my property, just like it did last year when it flooded my acequia laterals and orchard. But this time I’d had a trench dug that allowed the flood waters to reach the neighboring arroyo. The next day, friends in Dixon sent me photos of the “black Embudo,” filled with the ash from the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fire burn scar in the upper Rio Pueblo that flows into the Rio Embudo. And the next day, Adam Horowitz published a photo and essay on Albuquerque’s dry Rio Grande.

Rio Embudo in Dixon.    Photo by Robert Templeton

We are all experiencing these climate disasters—fire, flooding, and airidification—after decades of a climate crisis we’ve (you can decide for yourself who the “we” is) known was occurring yet failed to address in any substantive—or life affirming—way.

On Monday, I drove from El Valle to Santa Fe through the burn scar on the east side of the Sangre de Cristos. I’d been putting off the drive to avoid interfering with ongoing work, first with the fire, then with the floods, but also to avoid the pain it would elicit. Looking at these photos is indeed painful, but they also reveal pockets of green and regrowth that hopefully bring some relief.

Looking from SH 518 towards the Rito Angostura where the fire crossed over into the Rio Pueblo watershed.
Heading up Holman Hill looking back at the Sangre peaks.
Several cabins just on the other side of this burned area on Holman Hill survived. Pockets of green intersperse everywhere.
Looking down into the valley on Holman Hill.
The worst of it on Holman Hill.

Little patches of regrowth.
The beautiful Mora Valley.


The village of Holman.
Sand bagging.
Hermits Peak from LeDoux.
The view from Pendaries Resort on SH 105. The residences survived but the “view-shed” didn’t.
Near Sapello on SH 94.
One lane highway while crew works on the damaged bridge over Manuelitas Creek.


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