The FS invited me along on a recon hike with trail crew representatives and FS folks. The temps were worrisome but turned out to be remarkably decent. We hiked in from Mormon Grove TH to the Potato Patch and back. The trail crew will go in any day now to assess trail conditions, remove hazard trees, and do some drainage work. There is expected be rehab money for 3 years.
It is pretty clear that the trail and surrounding area is only in the middle of an "event," the fire being the first half, to be followed shortly by the flood, which will be equally devastating. Of the 17k acres that burned, 650 are less than 40% slope. There is no effective treatment for land over 40% slope, so it's a wait and see situation. The crews can do some work to mitigate the damage, but not much. And what the rains will do in the area is a big unknown, all dependent upon how much and how fast. Sycamore Creek is expected to crest as high as 22K cfs. For comparison, the Colorado River averages 9K cfs. We learned that the slurry coming down the drainages will weigh 12 lbs per gallon, compared to water at 8. So it could be bad.
I was impressed with the sprouts coming up through the ash. See photos. We saw a field of catclaw that is not wasting any time, it's 4-6 inches high and coming on strong--fire just encourages it.
I was expecting a gut-kick reaction to the fire, but it didn't happen. Yes it's horrible, but there are fingers of un-burned areas, not all of the trail is nuked, and a couple years from now it will be much different. Potato Patch did not burn, nor did Cross F TH, which I had heard was destroyed.
Seeing how clear the ground is made me think of GPSJoe, now is the time for some more searching. The Peeley TH won't be open for awhile but hopefully before too long.