160Los Alamos Fire
- May 24, 2000I want to thank all those who expressed concern for us folks in Los Alamos
during the fire. The depth of feeling was enormous. It's great to know
the running community cares.
I also want to thank the folks in Northern New Mexico and indeed the entire
state for their outpouring of emotional and material support. It is
incredible to see the tons of supplies flow into the community and the
thousands of volunteers who kept most things calm and functioning during
the crisis. Los Alamos enjoys a reputation of being the "pointy head
capitol of New Mexico" (read coneheads). However, the people of New Mexico
showed a deep spirit of neighborly love.
Finally, I want to thank Ginny LaForme for keeping the running community
informed about our situation. She knew what was going on a lot better than
some of us did and reading her messages now, shows how much she was
involved in our help.
Los Alamos is now trying to get back to normal. I can stand in the street
in front of my house and not see a standing house on the other side - just
chimneys and ashes. Our neighbors and friends are sifting through the
ashes to find some trinket or keepsake from their life before the fire. My
family was just lucky that we are unharmed and undamaged. But the sadness
shared with our neighbors is almost too much.
Steve Pattillo and I hiked about 10 miles on the running trails west of
town on Monday. We hiked up Los Alamos Canyon to the reservoir. The
canyon bottom looks very good because the fire there was a cool surface
burn. But about 100 feet up the slopes, there are only black toothpicks.
A crane helicopter reloaded for another airdrop while we were at the
reservoir, sucking up, in half a minute, maybe 1000 or 2000 gallons through
its suspended elephant trunk. The unplanned shower, like you get from a
wet dog shaking it out, was refreshing but not cold enough to be good
The trails used for Pajarito Mountain and Guaje Ridge runs are lifeless for
miles. There were still smoldering stumps Monday in a surreal black
landscape of stick figures. From town, the hillsides seem to have great
dark cloud shadows but the clouds are missing and the shadows don't move
with the wind. Huge gnarled holes that used to be ponderosa tree root
systems pockmark the slopes. A fine black ash convers the ground. By the
time we got back, our legs and arms were covered with charcoal from moving
in and over the dead trees.
The Forest Service is just beginning to think about how to deal with our
watershed and any plan is sketchy. The running community will do what we
can to stabilize the trails and replant the hills but it will take time.
Thanks again to everyone who was offering support and following our plight.
Los Alamos, NM