Although the ski area has been closed for six weeks now, the conditions have been ideal for mountain biking for those of us living in Salida. I have gotten in a few rides from town (following the COVID-19 recreational guidelines of “Treat your driveway as your trailhead”) up the Bear Creek drainage to the Columbine Trail and on up to the Rainbow Trail. This ride travels right into the heart of the Decker Fire that burned above Salida last fall and was mentioned in my blog on this post. Things look a lot different up there now. While most of the climb through the Gambel Oak and Ponderosa Pines appears as it always has, as the ride continues upward, it turns into a strange moonscape. The Decker Fire burned up and over numerous ridge-lines and gullies consuming all in its path. This included vast amounts of forest killed by the beetle infestation. While it is sad to see one of my favorite areas affected this way, it is a natural process that has been going on for millions of years. We just happen to be here for this phase of it.