Hiking a recently reopened trail in Rocky Mountain National Park devastated by the East Troublesome fire yields stunning surprise – The Denver Post

Hikers arriving at the recently reopened Green Mountain trail on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park know they can expect to see vast swaths of devastation wreaked by the East Troublesome wildfire two years ago. There’s certainly an enormity of that.

But there are wonderful, mindboggling surprises as well: Spectacular stretches of wildflowers along the trail that cover the ground with vibrant green and riotous eruptions of pink, yellow and white flowers, telling a story of new life and renewal against an apocalyptic backdrop of blackened and charred timber.

Hundreds of lodgepole pines lie where they were toppled in the conflagration that occurred on Oct. 21, 2020, when 100-mph winds drove the fire into the park near the Grand Lake entrance. Other lodgepoles remain standing, mostly stripped of their branches. Most of those are charcoal black, but some are a light tan color, having been denuded of their bark when Colorado’s second-worst wildfire blew up from 18,550 acres to 187,964 in less than 24 hours.

Among the burned-out stumps and fallen trees with exposed root systems that were violently yanked out of the ground by hurricane-force winds when they blew down, vibrant colors proliferate along the trail. Stems of enchanting pink fireweed bloom among bushes festooned with yellow and white blossoms. In some places, mosses grow in hues of orange, yellow and green where there is moist ground.

The contrast of death and new life is sure to stir the emotions of all who come.

“This is the first place we brought our kids backpacking, back in ’92 or ’93,” said Denise Bretting of Loveland, who hiked the trail with her husband on Tuesday. “This is a special place. Seeing it different, I’m sad, but this is what forests do.”

Before the fire, the trail was densely forested. Mark Bretting was struck by the scale of the destruction, sensing that full recovery will be a long time in coming. “It’s unbelievable,” he said.

Laura Graefe was visiting from Cedarburg, Wis., with her husband, Jim, and two daughters in their 20s.

“It’s sad, because of the burn, but it’s also beautiful because of the wildflowers coming back,” Laura said. “The flowers against the burned, charred trees are beautiful.”

RJ Sangostti, The Denver Post.

The Green Mountain Trail in Rocky Mountain …….

Source: https://www.denverpost.com/2022/07/21/green-mountain-trail-rocky-mountain-national-park-open/

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