While the Fourmile Fire was still burning, I started hunting through my photos. The fire was advancing toward—maybe had already passed through—Bald Mountain. Where were my photos of the ancient tree on its western slope? Just the day before the fire started (September 5), I’d hiked to the tree, feeling its smooth-rough bark and sniffing its aroma of butterscotch.
The ponderosa pine was old—eight hundred years old, said one naturalist. If true, the tree was a sapling while across the state the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde were being built by Ancestral Puebloans, and across the ocean Francis of Assissi was wandering the hills of Umbria.