Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mountains in the Stream

You know what it looks like when you dump an overflowing ashtray into the toilet? Multiply that by about a bazillion and you'll get an idea of what the water looked like coursing down the Arroyo yesterday. No, an oil tanker didn't somehow overturn in the Hahamongna Watershed. This black water is the result of heavy rain pouring down the San Gabriel Mountains, bringing along ash and debris left from August's devastating Station Fire.

I never thought I'd see the charred remnants of a forest floating downstream.

More rain is expected today.

Update, January 23: Check out our friend Pasadena Adjacent's incredible post on the subject. Be sure to follow her links, too.

22 comments:

Eternally Distracted said...

The same kind of thing happend here when it rains... Last year it rained three times and each time a public holiday was declared... so people could dance in the street!!

alex said...

amazing shot! it would have taken me awhile to figure out the culprit behind the dark waters.

Virginia said...

On my screen it looks purplish, so I thought there was wine flowing in the streets of South Pas!!! My kinda place!:)

Judy Williams said...

I was watching the national weather map and they said it was storms that are not the usual kind for California. There are three storms rushing across the country from West to East right now.

Ashtray contents in the toilet. Eeeeeeuwwwww!!

wv: roccurd - what you might see floating atop that rushing water in the Arroyo.

Linda Dove said...

Hey, neither here nor there, but congratulations to Libba on her huge award!! Great news.

Laurie said...

Good morning, everyone!

Linda mentioned that my friend Libba Bray just won the Printz Award for her latest novel Going Bovine. I raved about the novel here. It's always great when a brilliant work gets recognized, even more when it's one of your buds.

Alex, I would probably have had to think about why the water was black too -- but Dbdubya tipped me off to the photo op and mentioned that it was because of the fire debris and ash. I wish I could have gotten out and taken the shot without that fence but it was pouring and Little Bit was with me, so I pulled over and leaned out of the car with my umbrella.

Virg, it did have a little purplish color to it. I like your idea much better.

Eternally Distracted, I want to visit YOU. Rain dancing in the streets? Cool!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

After the last rain, I crossed over the wrong side of a muddy trail in Tujunga and had to have Mr V pull me out.

Congratulations to Libba

altadenahiker said...

Good for your friend -- wonderful news!

The hillside is cleaning itself, but I'm guessing this ashtray lands in the ocean? How sad.

TheChieftess said...

Now, now...let's not all assume that the black gunk is bad...after all, fires are important in SoCal as some plants can't even reproduce without the heat from the fire...and it clears the area for regrowth...and isn't that ash rich in some kind of nutrients??? Or maybe it's alkaline and will balance the acidity??? Soooo, maybe...just maybe...the gunk has a useful purpose!!! (Or not!!!)

Wow...just heard a really loud roll of thunder!!! And here comes the rain!!!!

Mr. E. your you tube the other day was priceless!!!

Laurie said...

I like your attitude, CHieftess.

ANyone know where I can find one of those magic carpetbags like Mary Poppins had? Day Two of Storm-induced House Arrest has Little Bit (and me) going a little bit stir crazy.

TheChieftess said...

How about a little dancin' and singin' in the rain???

wv: sanar....like sonar, only a device to detect sanity... especially when it's raining

Bellis said...

I like the way you put it in your final sentence - it's truly sad that our mountains are washing away, and such a waste of good topsoil. Laurie, jump into your car and get to Devil's Gate dam bridge while the sun's out. You can see all the mud that's filled the area behind the dam, and the water rushing through the dam into Devil's Gate gorge is like a black gusher of oil!

Laurie said...

Wow, Bellis, I wish I could have seen the oil Dam! Little Bit and I drove past the Arroyo again today and the water was normal. It really was surreal to look at that sludge and think of all the trees that burned.

Nature, humans, cycles, death, destruction, rebirth, hope, wonder. Rainy days make me pensive...

...I think I'm going to open a bottle of wine when Jon gets home.

dbdubya said...

The Chieftess is correct. Our chaparral covered hills are healthiest when they burn every few years. The remaining ash provides nutrients that are needed. Fire removes the dead brush and allows for new growth which provides better forage for the wild critters. Same with the forests in the Sierra Nevadas where fires burn out the undergrowth and make for a healthier forest. Sequoia groves need fire for the cones to release their seeds. No fire, no regeneration.

This has provided a conundrum for fire officials who have an obligation to protect private property, while forestry folks are equally concerned with maintaining a healthy eco-system.

Laurie said...

DB, have you heard the environmental scientists who have said that these huge fires are actually bad for the ecology, that they burn too hot and destroy the seeds that ordinary brushfires would germinate? I haven't studied the issue, but I've read a lot of scary prognotications about megafires. I know nothing about the science of controlled burns and all of the back and forth on the issue that has caused arguments regarding our San Gabriels. In fact, I don't know anything about this subject, so I don't have an opinion other than a gut reaction or sadness about all arson-based fires.

dbdubya said...

I don't have a strong position one way or the other, Laurie. I know there is a big debate. The facts are that fire is good for the eco-system. But, the hotter the fire, the more ecological damage. The mountains above La Crescenta, Tujunga, and La Canada burned in 1974. I know because I spent the night on the roof while the family was evacuated. That was not a particularly hot fire and the chaparral returned fairly quickly. The Station Fire was much hotter, burning everything almost to the ground. No doubt it will take much longer to recover and there's more damage and less benefit I'm sure.

I know the US Forest Service has changed their position on allowing forest fires to burn themselves out naturally after the huge Yellowstone fire in about 1988. I was there a couple of years ago and you can still see the damage, and yet the forest are coming back very well.

What we can all agree on is the pure evilness of anyone who intentionally starts a fire.

Laurie said...

Thanks, DB.

Bellis said...

The chaparral can only cope with a fire every 30 years or so - more frequent, and the regeneration fails, and grasses take over. I'm sad that an area by Clear Creek Ranger Station has burnt again in the Station fire - it was recovering nicely after a previous fire 3 years ago. How will it recover now? The natural fires caused by lightning that the plants are adapted to are relatively infrequent - but the intensifying drought combined with the pressure of too many humans has increased the frequency and heat of fires. Let's hope for more normal rain levels over the next 20 years to bring back the beautiful forest that we all enjoyed until this huge, destructive fire.

Laurie said...

I was wondering about that sort of thing, Bellis. Thanks.

And thanks, all of you! Until tomorrow...

Laurie said...

I updated the post with Pasadena Adjacent's brilliant post on the subject of that black water.

http://pasadenaadjacent.com/2010/01/19/trash-tuesday-where-debris-and-carbon-turn-the-rivers-black-56/

Check it out!

Laurie said...

Try this link since I broke the one above

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Thanks for the hook-up


Pasadena Adjacen't Field Reporter came over for a visit and made off with Bellis's comment. It's now comment #28.