After the Fire

Hennicksons Ridge in 2005, six years after the 1999 fire. Photo: Bill Davidow

Hennicksons Ridge in 2005, six years after the 1999 fire. Photo: Bill Davidow

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.

Oak forests on Hennicksons Ridge. Photo: Bill Davidow

Oak forests on Hennicksons Ridge. Photo: Bill Davidow

I’m amazed at how quickly the property has recovered from the fires. In 1990, I had difficulty finding evidence of the 1977 fire.

The south slopes of Hennicksons Ridge blaze with poppies. Photo: Bill David

The south slopes of Hennicksons Ridge blaze with poppies. Photo: Bill David

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.

Widespread damage on Hennicksons Ridge after the 2008 Basin Complex fire. Photo: Bill David

Widespread damage on Hennicksons Ridge after the 2008 Basin Complex fire. Photo: Bill Davidow

The devastated landscape on Hennicksons Ridge after the 2008 Basin Complex fire. Photo: Bill Davidow

The devastated landscape on Hennicksons Ridge after the 2008 Basin Complex fire. Photo: Bill Davidow

Nature celebrates spring in 2017 after the Soberanes of 2016 and a wet winter. Photo: Bill David

Nature celebrates spring in 2017 after the Soberanes of 2016 and a wet winter. Photo: Bill David